Church & Covid-19 Updates

We are committed to keeping you and your household safe! View our procedures below

Eastern PA Conference United Methodist Church

Re-opening Best Practices for Local Churches: Updated March 2021

The Eastern PA Conference places the health and welfare of our members and the surrounding community as the first priority in making decisions around occupancy.   Congregations that reopen must be committed to the goal of flattening the virus by following all state & city guidelines and have a reopening plan approved by their church council. Please continue to monitor both the PA.gov and the CDC website for up-to-date information.   

Overall Recommendations: General safety rules are still in place. 

  • Wear masks in public.
  • Keep physical distance of six feet or more.
  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often.
  • Limit group gatherings and crowds.

Worship Recommendations:

  • Capacity: We recommend following Gov. Wolf’s mitigation restrictions regarding capacity. Effective 3/1/2021, maximum occupancy is 15% for indoor events and 20% for outdoor events, regardless of venue size and only if attendees and staff are able to comply with the 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
  • Masks: Wear face masks while at church, as is recommended in public spaces. Please have masks available for people upon entry if they do not arrive with one. Have a designated leadership team prepared with a strategy to implement these recommendations.  Do not let the burden of this implementation fall on the Pastor.
  • Social Distance: Maintaining 6 feet between each person/family unit.
  • Singing:  Social distancing between members of the ensemble and the wider congregation should be followed.   Using bells or other instruments is a preferred option to singing, especially in high-risk, vulnerable populations.
  • No touch alternatives: Continue to use no-touch alternatives for passing the peace, collecting offering, and liturgical resources. We recommend screens over bulletins.  If you must use bulletins, do not reuse. 
  • Cleaning: Cleaning surfaces and all common areas: See CDC Guidelines.
  • Communion: Pre-packaged, sanitized communion packets continue to be the best option.
  • Small Groups/Bible study: Bible studies and small groups can meet in person, following distancing guidelines and wearing masks. We recommend maintaining some online options for high risk individuals and those who do not feel comfortable being in public. 
  • Office: Office functions could resume as normal, with attention to cleaning. Telework is still encouraged, where possible.
  • General Building:
    • Post signs indicating symptoms and urging people to stay home/seek medical attention if they have symptoms. 
    • Maintain a good stock of tissue, soap, hand sanitizer and disposable paper towels for drying hands.  
    • Clean the building regularly and between user groups, paying extra attention to hightouch surfaces. 
    • If you become aware of someone in the church or a building user infected with COVID-19, put your communication plan into action, and cooperate fully with contact tracers. 

CHURCH  COUNCIL UPDATE: 1/7/2021

Church Council met Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 to reevaluate our guidelines and procedures during COVID-19. Church Council came to the decision to continue to quarantine and postpone all in-person activities and worship. Salem Church will hold online-only worship now through January 14th, 2021. We will plan to go back to both in-person & online worship on Sunday, January 17th, 2021. Please keep these additional guidelines in mind when we do return to gathering in the church building 

  • Salem Church will continue to quarantine for worship through January 14th and go back to in-person worship on Sunday, January 17th.

  • Two Sunday worship services (8:45 am / 10: 45 am) will be held in person and will be live-streamed via Facebook Live starting January 17th, 2021.

  • All of the former requirements will be followed, including social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitizing, etc.

  • Speakers/singers may take off masks while speaking or singing, with the first 3 pews blocked off.  Masks will be worn when not speaking or singing.

  • There should be no more than 35 people present in the sanctuary during either worship service.

  • Groups / Meetings of 15 people (or less) only will be permitted to meet, after January 14th, if all the above requirements are followed.
  • Masks will be worn by everyone at all times when inside the building. This includes band, musicians, Pastor, liturgists. Come in the building wearing a mask.  If you do not have one we will try to supply you with a mask. Our supply is limited so please consider bringing your own.
  • We are to continue to try and social distance (6 feet apart) as much as is possible. We recognize that with limited space this isn’t always possible. So do the best you can.
  • Signing in is required for all people entering the building.
  • Hand sanitizer will be moved to the top of the steps where you enter the Sanctuary.
  • All church small groups, meetings, and activities are suspended until January 14th.
  • Nursery Services are postponed until January 14th.

Many people gathered with family and friends for Christmas and New Year’s.  So, the January 14th target date would cover a 14-day quarantine period where people may learn whether or not they have contracted Covid-19. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we continue to navigate these uncertain times.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ARRIVE FOR WORSHIP

Our County is currently under the GREEN PHASE of reopening in PA. The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home order. While this allows us to offer in-house worship, we are continuing to prioritize public health. For the safety of you and our church staff and congregation we ask that you please follow all our the guidelines listed below. Please remember to wear your mask, follow procedures and get ready to worship with us! Online Worship is also available for those who cannot attend in person worship. 

 SIGN-IN AND SANITIZE

a.) There is a hand soap dispenser at the door as well as sanitizer throughout the church to use coming in and going out of the church. Remember to sanitize your hands before and after coming into the church. Please wash your hands thoroughly and/or sanitize when touching any public spaces or items. 

b.) Please sign-in on the sheet provided in the lobby before heading up to the sanctuary. Everyone needs to sign in every Sunday they attend. This provides us with a contact list in case we discover someone who has been here contracts COVID-19. No personal information will be shared with any third parties. Contact information will only be used by the SUMC Church Office if/when folks need to be notified. 

c.) Please make sure to include the date that you are attending when you sign in. If a person should contract COVID-19 we will email those who have visited the church within the previous 2-weeks.

d.) If your contact information changes after visiting, please inform the office so we have an up-to-date email and phone number for you. Make sure to include all proper punctuation, capitalization or extra numbers and characters as emails are case sensitive. Emails might not arrive if written incorrectly.

e.) Email address is preferred. Email makes it much easier to get the word out to a group than by phone.  But please also include your daytime phone number if available. 

ALL VISITORS MUST WEAR MASKS

Masks are required when you come to church even as part of the GREEN PHASE. Please bring a face covering it with you. We realize masks have become controversial and some people prefer not to wear a mask.  Please remember that it is possible to have COVID-19 asymptomatically, feel fine, and pass it on to someone else.  While you may feel fine, you could unknowingly have and give the disease to someone else who may not be fine or who could pass it on to others. We wear masks to reduce the other person’s chances of getting it. Please observe the practice of wearing a mask out of respect for our congregation, staff, volunteers, and the people around us. If you do not have a mask we have a (limited) supply.

TECH & TOUCH-LESS WORSHIP

We are minimizing the amount of personal contact and the number of surfaces in the church to be touched to avoid any risk of “contact exposure”. Please do not touch any additional objects or surfaces you do not need to. Any materials that you need for in-house worship (bulletins, hymn sheets, etc) will be provided in a disposable format for you to keep and take home. 

a.) All churchgoers should enter through the ramp door, other church doors will remain locked to ensure one entrance in and out of the building.  We will have a volunteer Greeter stay at the door to wipe down the door handles and greet churchgoers. Please enter and exit through the same door to limit extra unnecessary touching of public surfaces.

b.) There will be an offering plate in the back of the sanctuary for you to place your offering in before or after worship. You can also continue dropping off/mailing your offering envelopes or give online. Please make all checks payable to Salem United Methodist Church. If you are interested in obtaining offering envelope giving packets, contact the church office ([email protected]). 

c.) All music and scripture will be projected.  We are also including traditional music and words from the hymnal.  Please refrain from touching and using the hymnals and Bibles in the pews. This will help limit any possibility of contact exposure. 

d.) Fellowship time before and after worship will not be offered to avoid congregating in closed areas. Please talk with folks outside the church building at an appropriate social distance.

e.) The infant/toddler nursery is on hold until September/October when we can reassess the situation.  It’s impossible to social distance with kids. Children and families are still welcome to attend in-house worship. Families must stay together at all times throughout worship. All children above 2 years old must wear a mask or facial covering. 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Please practice social distancing of about 6 feet between people other than your own family members when able. Keep a 6 ft. distance between yourself and others in gathering areas such as the Welcome Lobby, on the steps to the Sanctuary, in the Sanctuary when you sit in church and other places there may be groups. Please avoid handshaking, passing the peace, or hugging others to avoid spreading any possible germs. Consider a different form of greeting such as a wave air-hug or other forms of appropriate social distanced greetings. 

LIVESTREAMING WORSHIP

We will be livestreaming worship for people who are unable to attend in person. If you or a family member feel sick or were recently sick we are asking that you stay home and join the online livestream option. We are currently livestreaming during 8:45 am and 10:45 am via Facebook. This means you will be able to watch worship online on your smartphone or computer.

a.) Worship will be simultaneously broadcast on Facebook while we are worshiping in-person. You can go to the church Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/salemchurchorwigsburg/ and view worship while it is happening.  

b.) Worship will be recorded. We will upload a recording of service to YouTube later in the week so persons without Facebook can also view the service. You do not need an account to view these videos and its free.