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Worship Relaunch Guidelines: A Plan From the Elders

May 22, 2020

Covenant Family,
While we are excited and thankful to return to our church building for Sunday morning worship, we recognize that we still need to take the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic seriously. It continues to be a season of experimentation and adaptation for our church. We are so thankful for your flexibility and support as we navigate this challenging time together.
In this spirit, we will be using the summer (beginning on June 7th) as a “transitional” period for worship. We encourage you to carefully read the attached guidelines for our first step in the transition for relaunching our in-person worship experience.\

We recognize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to this relaunch. This means that during our transition we will continue to offer two high-quality worship experiences:

  1. An excellent online worship experience for the large majority of our congregation who will continue to worship at home.
  2. A reverent in-person service on Sundays at 10AM that shows the highest concern for safety and cleanliness.

In response to a congregation-wide phone survey, we found that approximately one-third of respondents would return to in-person worship in June. Based on this feedback, we are preparing for 100 people for worship on Sunday, June 7th (this is a little more than one third of our ordinary worship attendance).
This smaller transitional worship experience will give us the opportunity to be back in our church building while simultaneously training several teams of volunteer ushers for their new responsibilities. 
While we welcome all those who choose to attend in-person worship, we realize that it is a personal choice on whether to attend in-person worship or to continue worshiping at home during this transitional period. However, for those who are included in the groups below, at-home worship is strongly recommended:

  1. Anyone who falls into the CDC’s guidelines as “Higher Risk for Severe Illness”. These guidelines are outlined here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html; and a video describing them is here: https://youtu.be/qb7shu_sdQ0.
  2. Anyone who prefers not to wear a facemask. We are requiring that everyone wear masks during this transitional period. The only exception is for children aged 3 and younger. We will be happy to provide you with a brand new mask with the Covenant logo at the door if you do not have a mask of your own.

We recognize that wearing masks is not always enjoyable. However, as elders we believe it is important that everyone wear one during the transition. Wearing masks is a practical step to take to protect ourselves and others when we gather in public. We will wear these masks together as a symbol of our love for our fellow Covenant family members. A helpful article on this topic is here: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/dont-wear-mask-yourself/610336/. A heartwarming message from our mayor, Tommy Battle. on why he wears a mask can also be watched here: https://www.huntsvilleal.gov/videos/mayor-battle-why-i-wear-a-face-cover/
We also request that you:

  1. please take your body temperature, and
  2. please use the restroom at your own home prior to attending worship during this transitional period.

These two steps are easy ways to reduce the likelihood of infecting a fellow Covenant family member. By staying home with an elevated temperature (or if you feel unwell), you lower the risk to your church family. Similarly, by using the restroom ahead of time and reducing the use of the public restrooms at Covenant, you also greatly reduce the spread of germs during the transition. Nevertheless, these bathrooms will be monitored and cleaned throughout the worship service for your safety.
As we look at our membership rolls, we recognize that there are many in the congregation who are either high-risk or would prefer not to attend under the limitations of masks and social distancing. That is okay! We are in a transition period and realize that many will continue to worship online. As we move forward, we will continue to seek new and effective ways to stay connected and be spiritually fed.
We also look forward to welcoming our full worship attendance in the future following this transitional period. Meanwhile, we are embracing this transition as an opportunity to train our ushers and prepare for the time when the public health outlook improves.
We fully anticipate learning a great deal from these first few weeks back in the sanctuary so we look forward to hearing ongoing feedback from you. We really want to hear your voice and encourage you to reach out to the pastors or to info@covhsv.org. In a time when information, guidance, and opinions change daily, we can nevertheless have confidence that our mission remains unchanged: We are a congregation of people who love God, love each other, and serve in the world.
Our present challenges have not stopped our mission, but they have caused us to innovate fresh ways to fulfill that mission. We recognize that every Covenant family member will be making a sacrifice for our community during this transition. Whether you are sacrificing by staying home, or whether you are sacrificing by attending under limitations, we are thankful for your patience and effort. Thank you for the support and love that you have shown us so far and will continue to show in the summer.
We request that you read the attached guidelines for the in-person worship experience in June. We look forward to hearing from you and are thankful for the opportunity to worship together, both in-person and online. We will continue to meet as a group of Elders leading up to the launch on June 7th and will carefully evaluate all the public health We may find ourselves in an uncomfortable place, but we remember that “wherever we go, God has sent us.”
Yours in Christ,
The Elders of Covenant Presbyterian Church

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