Reopening of Churches and Synagogues
By Brad Shrum
As houses of worship look to reopen to the public, I thought this might be a good time to address safety issues that a church should consider implementing, regardless of the size and area of the country.
Here are several steps that can help a congregation reopen:
Since a house of worship is a public venue, the church should always follow state guidelines and the different phases given by the local and state authorities.
A church may or may not have a COVID-19 team that is an off-shoot of the safety team. If so, let them set the precedence for the congregation on returning, along with the staff members.
With medium to larger churches these steps could be helpful: a. Consider adding additional service times to spread out the attendees. b. Consider limiting and staggering the number of attendees. One way of doing this is having members register when they will be attending and start with perhaps fifty, then seven-five next week, then one hundred, etc. c. Consider having groups meet in different areas of the building on a rotating basis. 1/3 in the sanctuary, 1/3 in the fellowship hall, 1/3 in the gymnasium, and so on.
Social distancing should be practiced both outside the church walls and inside the sanctuary and the building itself. What this will typically look like is families sitting together, but with empty pews or chairs both behind and in front.
Limit the entryways to no more than two doors, and allow the attendees to social distance while they are waiting to enter.
A quality spray wash should be available at the entrances for hand washing before entering the building.
Restrooms should be monitored with no more than two people at one time.
Masks may or may not be required but should be considered at least while arriving and departing. With inside social distancing measures, they can be removed for the worship time.
Offering plates should not be passed at the regular service time. Baskets or buckets should be placed in strategic areas where attendees can drop their offerings. At least two members from the finance team or designated offering folks can retrieve.
Communion services are best followed in this manner: Both the bread and juice can be purchased already pre-packaged. Either the staff or deacon body can put these in baggies and hand them out to members as they enter the church, and disposed after usage back in the baggie and picked up with sanitary gloves.
Sunday School gatherings may want to be suspended until later in the year, especially ones with predominant older adults.
Baptisms should continue but limit the number of family members and friends in the waiting area. Baptismal safety issues are of utmost importance and were addressed in this blog post.
Leave the worship center the same way as entering or perhaps with the exit closest to where you are sitting.
While the times are different and we all hope to get back to normal, following these loss control measures will help ensure that congregations’ return to worship will be a safe and meaningful blessed experience.
Attention Overland Park Area Churches: Are you a member of your congregation’s team that is responsible for choosing insurance for your church? I would love to help you. Contact me direct at 913-754-3823 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I am located in our Overland Park, KS office location and would be happy to meet at your congregation.
Goose hunter, father of two sons, and insurance agent!
Direct Phone: 913-754-3823
Brad has worked at MAX for the past 17 years and has over 30 years of experience in the insurance industry doing underwriting, field management work, and sales. Outside of the office, Brad is an ordained Southern Baptist Deacon and a Sunday School teacher of 30 years. In addition, Brad is a long-time Vacation Bible School teacher and has an ongoing 20+ year Nursing Home Ministry. Since he was a young teenager, Brad has been an avid goose hunter, traveling across North America while pursuing this noble bird and enjoying the outdoor world.