When will things get back to normal? When will we be able to go back to church and worship God together in person and see our church family? Those are questions that the Lead Team (Church Council) of Normandy Church have been trying to determine for the last two months.
While we cannot give you a definitive answer to that question, we have decided to not to return to in person worship at least through the end of June or until Governor DeWine has declared that we have reached phase 3. We wanted you to know some of the information that has guided our decision.
While Governor DeWine has begun to open up the businesses in the state of Ohio, his guidelines for gathering in groups of more than 10 persons for extended periods of time (more than 10 minutes) are still in place. It is during those exposures that we are most vulnerable to being infected with the Coronavirus. That means worshipping together would be a prime time for people to transmit and be infected by COVID-19. The other factor that is guiding our decision is that a large number of our congregation would fall in the high-risk category of having serious complications should they contract the virus. Bishop Palmer has also assembled a group of medical professionals and leaders from around the West Ohio Conference to provide us with guidelines for returning to worship. We wanted to share a few of those with you but want you to know you can find the complete list on the West Ohio Conference webpage (westohioumc.org).
We should follow Governor DeWine’s recommendations for a phased return.
Phase 1 – no gathering in groups larger than 10 people, follow social distancing and cleaning recommendations.
Phase 2 – no gathering in groups larger than 50 people, follow social distancing and cleaning recommendations.
Phase 3 – no limits on group size, relaxed social distancing guidelines.
There are restrictions that must be observed if we were to return in phase 2.
Everyone must wear masks and sit 6 feet apart.
All surfaces, doorknob, pews must be sterilized between services.
No touching when greeting.
No choir, no singing, no responsive reading, or congregational prayers.
Bibles, hymnals, and all pew inserts should be removed.
No passing of the attendance pads, offering plates, or communion elements.
There can be no bulletins or printed materials.
Based on those guidelines, the Lead Team (Church Council) has voted not to return to in person worship until we reach phase 3 and the social restrictions are lifted. We believe that our online and televised services provide a better worship experience, than if we were to return in person under all the restrictions listed above. We considered coming back when we enter phase two. But determined we would have to limit each service to 40 worshippers in addition to those conducting the service. We felt trying to coordinate who could come to worship at each service would be almost impossible and very unwelcoming to new persons who might come to worship with us. We also have not been able to procure the needed cleaning supplies to sterilize between services and the cost of paying an outside company would be cost prohibited.
Please continue to pray for us as the leaders of the church and we want you to know that we are praying for all of you. If you have any needs, let us know how we can be of service to you. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we go through this difficult time in the life of the church.
Your Servants in Christ,
Normandy Church Lead Team