PLC GUIDELINES FOR RETURN TO BUILDING USE
General: Following are the guidelines for the return and use of the Peace Lutheran Church (PLC), and are developed to assist the congregation with church services and other activities. In general we will follow not only the safety guidelines provided by Federal, State, and local government officials, but also the ELCA Synod leadership. Thank you very much for your response to our survey. It is most helpful in making this guideline. As we continue to move forward, we want this guide to provide as much freedom and responsibility to each of you and your family as possible.
Like the State of Texas guidelines, we propose a phased approach to returning to in-person services, depending on the appeal of these church services and conditions in our community at the time.
Each of us at any given time must determine our own comfort level and participate accordingly. In particular and of great importance is to stay home if you are sick or if you have fever, cough, or any other symptoms of infection.
Likewise, per CDC guidelines, we recommend continuing virtual worship only if you have any of the medical conditions that put you at higher risk for suffering a more severe course of COVID-19. This includes people over 65, and those with severe underlying medical conditions like heart, lung, chronic kidney, or liver disease, severe obesity, uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, and medical conditions that compromise the immune system.
PHASE 1 – STAY AT HOME, NO IN-PERSON WORSHIP, VIRTUAL GATHERINGS ONLY
We have been in this phase since mid-March. We have gathered using Zoom successfully, and are now also sharing the services through Facebook Live. The services are recorded for later viewing through either YouTube or Facebook Live.
PHASE II – SMALL GROUP MEETINGS AND GATHERINGS
This phase includes small groups meeting in-person while observing physical distancing (no less than 6 feet), wearing a mask, and emphasizing use of hand sanitizers and hand washing. Examples include weekly Thursday morning prayer service as well as the people involved with Hero Mask Makers. Groups that are not able to maintain recommended physical distancing continue to meet virtually. Worship services continue to be offered only through virtual means as in Phase I.
PHASE III – OUTDOOR IN-PERSON WORSHIP
On June 28, 2020, at 7:30PM, an outdoor service will be offered in a shady area of the church grounds. Participants are expected to bring their own chairs as well as water, fans, or other warm-weather comfort items, and disperse themselves across the grounds so as to maintain at least 6 ft. distance between family units. Wearing masks is further encouraged. Communion will be held at this service, but participants must bring their own elements with them; communion will not be centrally distributed. All participants will be required to register either prior to this service or upon arrival at service so as to facilitate contact tracing, should that become necessary.
During this phase, virtual worship services continue to be held at regular times on Sunday morning. This outdoor service is supplemental to the service conducted at 10:30 AM via Zoom. Depending on participation levels, participants’ responses, and conditions in the community, this service will continue to be offered weekly.
Indoor small group meetings will continue to follow the guidelines of Phase II. Larger group meetings can be held outdoors while maintaining prescribed physical distancing criteria.
PHASE IV – IN PERSON WORSHIP IN THE SANCTUARY
When new cases of COVID-19 in Brazos County are reduced to a perceived safe and stable level, limited participation church services will resume in the sanctuary. Larger group meetings may also occur in the fellowship hall or in the sanctuary, following the same guidelines as with worship services. While physical distancing, wearing masks, and shortened meeting duration will be required, other safety measures will be developed and communicated prior to the announcement of such worship services.
Because the broadcast of services through Zoom and Facebook Live has allowed participation in services by those distant from our community or otherwise not able to attend in person, the services will continue to be simulcast via Zoom and Facebook Live. A task force has been formed to develop the technical specifications and recommendations for purchasing the necessary video and audio equipment to make this possible.
This service, as with the service in Phase III, will require participants to register prior to the service so as to assure the sanctuary can accommodate the number of participants as well as to facilitate contact tracing, should that become necessary.