Wondering When Face to Face Activities at Nativity Might Resume?
Nativity staff and leaders long to come together, face to face, but only when it is safe to do so. Nativity Council and staff in cooperation with public health authorities have developed a plan on when and how we might return to face to face activities in the building.
The plan is not a linear plan, it is organic, adapting as needed between phases due to changes in pandemic infection rates and hotspots. Dr. Phil Hoversten, retired physician, with Public Health experience as an administrator for Allina Health, has agreed to serve as Nativity’s “Return to Face to Face Activities”, Operating Officer. This means that Phil will review plans in consultation with Dr. Melissa Brunsvold (academic surgeon and intensivist at the University of Minnesota hospitals), Dr Scott Bentz (Emergency Medicine Mercy Hospital) and other authorities, to ensure best practices in light of current conditions and recommendations. Phil, Melissa and Scott are all members of Nativity.
As followers of Jesus we are called to love and care for our neighbor, especially the marginalized, the powerless, the vulnerable (Mt 25:40). Preventing the spread of the virus is essential in our understanding of what it means to “love neighbor” (Mt 22:37-39). We will err on the side of caution in our decisions, minimizing risk of serious illness and deaths related to the pandemic is our highest priority.
To minimize the serious effects of COVID-19, we recommend continuing the strategies to prevent the spread of Covid -19. These are familiar and include:
- Frequent hand washing,
- minimizing exposure to the respiratory aerosols and droplets from infected individuals by wearing masks,
- minimizing or avoiding indoor settings to decrease the potential exposure to aerosol in the air from people with the COVID-19 disease possibly asymptomatic,
- reasonable house cleaning measures to avoid picking up the virus on hands,
- Modest expansion of individual sheltering in place bubbles (parents, children, grandchildren and small selected friendship groups). So far these have not shown to spike the cases in Minnesota.
- Personal protective equipment shortages persist especially for healthcare workers (the N 95 respirators are not universally available even in many healthcare settings and when widely available will be very helpful in significantly reducing aerosol exposure in indoor settings).
- Exploring additional ways to maintain shelter in place, physical distancing and use of masks, with small groups outdoors to minimize aerosol exposure.
Leadership recommends continuing phase 1 activities at Nativity Lutheran Church.
- 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.
- Explore possibilities for outside worship.