New COVID Policy

As of May 17, 2021, we are operating under Option 1 of the Bishop’s new COVID-19 plan, “Stepping Forward Safely in Love and Trust“.

Option 1: Basic Standard Practices for Churches and other Ministries

United Methodist churches or other ministries choosing to follow the Basic Standard Practices are responsible for observing the following guidelines in their life and ministry.

  • Every local church and ministry will take care to maintain reasonable compliance to these area standards. Each should have a team that meets to:
    • Discuss and assess the church or ministry capacity to safely meet in-person
    • Consider how to adapt to changes in public health requirements
    • Evaluate all gatherings and spaces for safe use with 6’ distancing between households and good ventilation
    • Plan how to sustain digital options for participation, especially for vulnerable persons, who may not be available to meet in-person
    • Prepare communication with members, constituents, and the public
  • A local church is not permitted to hold in-person worship without the approval of the pastor. For local churches, decisions about the use of church property for worship or other gatherings belong to the pastor without interference from the Board of Trustees (Book of Discipline, ¶ 2533).
  • Indoor gatherings (including worship, small groups, meetings, outside groups, and youth activities – middle school/jr. high and older) are permitted with up to 50 people, as allowed by state and local restrictions: with 6’ of physical distancing between households.
    • Masks always required by all participants
    • Solo or household vocal and wind instrument performances may be recorded indoors following Guidelines for Safe Singing (see appendix)
    • No congregational singing at this time
    • Events should be limited in length to no more than one hour
  • Outdoor worship/gatherings of any size are permitted; 6’ of physical distancing is required between households.
    • Masks always required by all participants
    • Singing allowed following Guidelines for Safe Singing (see appendix)
    • Ministries should explore local government permitting requirements for outdoorevents, particularly if using amplification or radio frequencies
  • Recognizing the essential nature of the sacraments to congregational life, and the inherent risks posed by each during a pandemic, follow the guidance outlined in each of the following documents.
  • Foodservice, coffee hours or potlucks require commitment to the Safe Local Practices option (Option 2).
  • Childcare, Sunday School, or children’s church require commitment to the Safe Local Practices option (Option 2).

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