A pandemic is a defining moment in history but let us not be defined by a virus but by how we loved each other during the virus.
Pastor Glenn Seefeldt May 2020
This Phased Model for resuming face to face activities is not a linear plan, it is organic, adapting as needed between phases due to changes in pandemic infection rates and hotspots.
The phased plan below was approved by Nativity Council on May 19, 2020. Dr. Phil Hoversten, retired physician, with Public Health experience as an administrator for Allina Health, is serving as Nativity’s public health advisor. This means that Phil will review plans with consultation from other authorities, to ensure best practices in light of current conditions and recommendations. Nativity will follow the recommendations of Minneapolis Area Synod, Minnesota Governor and Minnesota Department of Health:
STAY AT HOME PHASE
- Offer online worship only.
- Bible studies, small groups, etc. will meet online.
- Service ministries will use safety protocols focusing on essential needs.
- Minimal, drop-in staffing sufficient for essential operations
Phase One begins when: Minnesota records two weeks of declining case counts, has widespread availability of testing, contact tracing and no PPE shortages.
- Continue holding online worship only.
- Recording in the sanctuary, maintaining at least 6 ft of space between people – no singing
- Life rituals (weddings, funerals, baptisms) will be kept to less than 10 in attendance, consider inviting immediate family. Recommend publicizing the date and location to those who are on the approved list to prevent hurt feelings or awkward situations.
- Bible studies and small groups continue to meet online.
- Office functions as limited as possible to ensure essential operations.
- Church council and leadership teams of less than 10 may meet in person while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing but suggest continue meeting online.
- High risk individuals (people over 60 and those with underlying conditions), whether staff or volunteers, should continue to shelter in place.
- It is recommended that All Nativity Staff wear protective masks while in building.
- It is recommended that All NCFC Staff wear protective masks when in commons spaces i.e. Nativity Commons and Nativity staff offices.
- It is recommended that people on campus, meeting or working outside, wear protective masks and maintain social distancing when with others who are not part of their household.
The shift from Phase One to Phase Two is based on a re-evaluation of the situation using recommendations of Minnesota Governor and Minnesota Department of Health, we would look for several weeks of improving conditions/development of vaccine/etc to pass before this shift. This will require careful observance of physical/social distancing recommendations on an ongoing basis.
Worship, depending on size:
- We will continue holding online worship, recording from home or the sanctuary with participation from small groups of people.
- Explore small group worship with people masked and socially distanced but with no public singing, recorded music only. Current worship space would accommodate approximately 58 households with social distancing.
- Explore worship outside, careful to guard against gathering too close
- No hand shaking
- No shared communion
- No distribution of hardcopy newsletters, prayer pages and no use of pew bibles or hymnals everything will be on screen.
- No offering plates passed, collection plate available at the entrance of worship space and handlers will use gloves.
- No fellowship time coffee and cookies, encouraging people to leave the building rather than mingling.
- Life rituals (weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmations) could take place with careful attention to guest lists so as to keep under the 50 person limit, and physical distancing plans.
Small Groups and Faith Formation:
- Offer opportunities for Bible studies and small groups to meet in person or online. Recommend maintaining online options for people who do not feel comfortable.
- Faith Formation: Offer an online or no-touch drop-off activity.
- No service and learning trips. This is an ideal time for mission in the local area.
- Regular office functions could resume more or less safely while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. Public Health guidelines for sanitation mandated
- Church councils and leadership teams may meet in person if less than 10, might only with masks and maintaining social distancing. Meeting online is still preferred.
- Building users/renters may resume using building with a plan to address cleaning needs and agreement to observe gathering and distancing protocols.
- Signs will be posted indicating symptoms and urging people to stay home/seek medical attention if they have symptoms.
- Supplies of tissue, soap, hand sanitizer and disposable paper towels for drying hands.
- Building will be cleaned regularly and between user groups, paying extra attention to high-touch surfaces.
- If someone in the church or a building user is infected with COVID-19, we will communicate to all involved and communicate with larger congregation via webpage and broadcast email. We will cooperate fully with contact tracers.
-High risk individuals (people over 60 and those with underlying conditions), whether staff, volunteers, or program participants, should continue to shelter in place.
The shift from Phase Two to Phase Three is based on a re-evaluation of the situation using recommendations of Minnesota Governor and Minnesota Department of Health, You might expect several more weeks of improving conditions to pass before this shift.
There will be spikes and hotspots with the virus and if recommended we will return to stay at home or safe at home protocols. High risk individuals (people over 60 and those with underlying conditions), whether staff, volunteers, or program participants, should continue to shelter in place during Phase Three. Hospitals and care facilities are recommended to continue limiting visitors. This has implications for church program, pastoral care and business.
-Wear cloth face masks while at church and in community ministry, as is recommended in public spaces.
- We will continue to offer online worship.
- Limited Face to face worship will be offered with social distancing in place.
- Sacrament of Holy communion will be offered with restrictions yet to be determined. Will consult ELCA guidelines.
- Use no-touch alternatives for passing the peace, collecting offering, and liturgical resources. May need to remove books and Bibles, Use screens only.
- No fellowship/coffee hour. Continue encouraging people to leave the building rather than
-Bible studies and small groups may meet in person, maintaining some online options for high risk individuals and those who do not feel comfortable being in public.
-Office functions could resume as normal, with attention to cleaning.
-Groups, teams, and committees could meet in person.
We are aware that for some, wearing protective masks may provoke previous trauma and PTSD. These individuals will be encouraged to be safe at home.
We are also aware that some adults, considered vulnerable by state guidelines, may choose to participate in activities, if they do we will respect their decision to participate. It is our practice to trust individuals to make their own decisions it is not ours to make for them.
Questions to Consider:
-We will focus on Digital church but how will we need to adjust our in-person worship options?
-How will we manage the receiving line after church and/or congregating after worship services?
-How will we manage attendance at events so there is room for members of the community to join in and not go over guidelines?
-We will focus on small group development, how will we enhance the online experience for small groups
-How will we ensure sanitation and disinfection in common spaces?
- Hymnals and Bibles
- Areas where small groups gather during the week
- Nurseries and/or playgrounds
- Pews or chairs following worship
- Doorknobs, bathrooms, other areas that people touch when in your building
-How will we update our building use agreements to reflect the new realities of COVID-19?
-If someone contracts COVID-19, how will we communicate with our congregation and members who may have come into contact with that individual while maintaining privacy and pastoral care?