Our Sunday morning gatherings become complicated during a time of pandemic. How we need to change our programs and practices depends on the level of vulnerability of our congregation's people and the level of concern articulated by our local health departments.
*Updated Monday, March 16, 2020
Suspending In-Person Worship
We strongly recommend that congregations avoid gatherings of more than 25 people, including worship and religious education for the time being.
We are collecting and providing resources for worship and age-specific programs through videoconferencing software or social media to enable the congregation to continue important ministry in this time of great need.
In these formats, the experience of Sunday morning certainly changes. But the core purpose stays the same: connecting with a spiritual community devoted to growing love in this world. We embody that love when we help keep one another physically safe and help the most vulnerable stay free of disease. Let us love our people, and this world, well.
Resources for When In-Person Gathering is Advisable
Gathering In-Person with Basic Prevention Strategies
Many of us will be able to run Sunday morning programs as usual, with some basic strategies in place to reduce the transmission of disease:
- Encouraging everyone, including staff and ministers, to stay home if sick.
- Promoting frequent and thorough hand washing, and providing adequate soap, paper towels/dryers, or hand sanitizer to make that possible.
- Reducing or eliminating social touch such as handshakes and hugs.
- Collecting the offering differently, so baskets are not passed hand-to-hand.
- Projecting song lyrics or photocopying sheet music so that hymnals don't spread germs.
- Careful cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
- Altering snack and coffee hour practices to offer individually-wrapped foods or food and drink handled by gloved servers.
Gathering In-Person When Many are Home
When many are home, you can use technology to bring the congregation to them.
- If your congregation does not already live-stream worship, you may wish to make that possible during this extraordinary time so that the sick, the vulnerable, and the quarantined have access to their community of faith at a time they might need it the most.
- You can also invite children and youth to gather in age cohorts using videoconferencing software on smartphones and computers.
- With a smaller attendance, you can practice social distancing even better: invite people to leave space around their seats, and to sit every-other-row.