News

Our Church's  Pandemic Reopening Plan

Stage One –

 

--    Weekly worship is online only, with a handful of pastors and lay people around the Mosaic entering church buildings to record a combined worship service.  Lay people help to make our worship joyful and engaging by submitting videos of songs, scriptures and praise reports.

--    Church gatherings, activities, meetings, and conversations are held over screens only.

--    Pastor Anna, Pastor Jongdeok and our Administrative Assistant, Cathy, reach out actively to make sure folks are healthy, cared for, and receiving any help they need.  Church office hours are reduced to Fridays 9:30-12 during the Food Pantry.  Staff work from home as much as possible.  Custodian, building monitor, financial secretary and treasurer continue to work in the building as needed in isolation.

--   Food Pantry operates with a skeleton crew with orders called in and pick-ups happening out of the garage.  Deliveries are made to those who cannot get out.

--   Thrift Store is closed.

 

 

Stage Two –

 

--  Weekly worship is online only created and executed with our specific church in mind.  Pastor Anna or Pastor Jongdeok (or a guest preacher) will preach each week.  Requests to attend the filming of sermons or readings will be considered as long as no more than 10 people are in the sanctuary at any given time and all keep socially distanced.  Requests from individuals who are isolated by lack of internet will be prioritized.

--  Church office opens to regular hours (Tuesday-Friday 8-1:30) with staff wearing masks when unable to maintain social distance. Visitors to the office will be asked to wear a face covering.  If that is not possible, a plan will be developed to help them in an appropriate way.

--  Food Pantry continues to operate with a skeleton crew with orders called in and pick-ups happening out of the garage.  Deliveries are made to those who cannot get out.

--   The Thrift Store opens on a modified schedule Saturdays only with all staff and shoppers wearing masks.  Everyone entering the thrift store will be required to use hand sanitizer.  Masks will be given out at no charge for those who need one.  No more than 10 people will be allowed in the store at any given point including volunteer staff.  For everyone's safety, parents will be asked to not bring their children with them while shopping if at all possible. Children of shoppers or staff who do come will be required to wear a facemask (two-year-olds and older) and stay with their parents at all times.

-- Signage about how to properly wear a face mask will be posted throughout the frequently-used parts of the church and staff and volunteers will be trained in how to wear face masks properly. 

--  Paid and volunteer staff keep a health log that records temperature and affirms that they are symptom free at the beginning of each “shift.”

 

 

Stage Three (where we are mostly now!) –

 

--    Weekly worship meets in-person with the following protocols in place.

--    Masks are required.  When worship is outside, masks can be removed once seated at socially distanced intervals. When worship is inside, masks are required the entire time people are in the building.  Anyone who cannot respect our mask rule will be asked to worship with us online.  If they refuse and try to enter the building without a mask, the worship service will be moved entirely online for that morning and everyone present will be asked to leave.

--  Everyone will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer at the entrance to building and to sign in so that contact tracing can be done if needed. 

--   If the weather is nice, our preference is to worship outside with chairs set up in family groupings amply spaced apart under the Catalpa. If we are in Stage Three and it is too cool to worship outside, we will worship in the Sanctuary with strict social distancing following maximum percentage capacity guidelines issued by New York State.  Pews will be marked so that households can be spaced at twelve-foot intervals from one another.

--  There will be no shared hymnals or Bibles.

--   Weekly worship will still be recorded and made available online.  High-risk persons are encouraged to remain at home.

--   When outside, worshippers will be encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.  Extra chairs will be available. 

--   Nursery will remain closed during this phase. 

--   There will also be no social hour.  Bring your own coffee, if needed.

--   Worshippers will be prepared by publishing safety/hygiene guidelines for the church and its yard, including pre-worship symptom check, mask-wearing when unable to maintain social distance, disinfecting high-touch surfaces, frequent hand-washing, neither arriving early nor lingering after, and maintaining social distance of 6 feet, etc.

--    Reimagine the practices of communion and congregational/choir singing, both of which we love, and both of which are opportunities for contagion. 

--    Youth will continue to meet online or outside only.  There will be no indoor children’s events.  Masks will be required at all outdoor youth and children gatherings.

--    Virtual gatherings, activities, meetings, and conversations continue as needed.  No in-person meetings on the church calendar of church committees or outside groups.  If individuals on church committees are unable to join virtual meetings, they can join the calls from the church conference room while wearing a mask and maintaining social distance.

--  Food Pantry continues to operate with a skeleton crew with orders called in and pick-ups happening out of the garage.  Deliveries are made to those who cannot get out.

--  The Thrift Store opens without appointments needed on Saturday only with staff and shoppers wearing masks and using hand sanitizer at the entrance.  A limit on people in the thrift store at any given time will be enforced at 10 people.  Children will still be asked to stay with their parents if they need to come at all.

-- Signage about how to properly wear a face mask will continue to be posted throughout the frequently-used parts of the church describing how to wear face masks properly. 

--  Parts of the building that are not in use will be marked off.

--  Paid and volunteer staff will continue to keep a health log that records temperature and affirms that they are symptom free at the beginning of each “shift.”

--  A cleaning log will be kept by our custodians to ensure safe and routine cleaning of high-traffic areas of our facility.

 

 

Stage Four—

 

--    Sunday worship is in-person and indoors with continued maximum capacity guidelines followed.  Social distancing and mask-wearing restrictions maintained.

--    Weekly worship continued to be recorded and made available to anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable attending in person.

--   Congregational and choir singing will still be reimagined.

--   Church meetings and gatherings resume in person with mask-wearing.  Meetings of more than 5-6 people will be held in the Social Hall or Sanctuary to allow for more distancing.

--    Nursery reopened following NY Forward protocols.

--    Sunday School and Youth meet in-person and indoor, with extra adults on hand to assist with hygiene habits.  We will modify children and youth activities based on evolving recommendations from the CDC.

--    Continue vigilant sanitizing/cleaning of the facility.

--  Food Pantry decides which pandemic practices to continue as the “new normal.”

--  Thrift Store opens for business on both Friday and Saturday while continuing to enforce a 10-person maximum, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing by volunteer staff and customers.

 

 

Stage Five: vaccine party!

--    That’s all we want to say about that.  It’ll be big.

 

 

             We are taking these stages week by week.  Transitions depend on data related to virus containment and guidance from New York State and our Upper New York Conference.  We are in this for the long haul.  We can imagine moving back to a prior stage if we sense (or know for sure) that we’ve moved ahead too fast. We’re not afraid to keep asking each other for more patience, more perseverance, more time.

             We’re not scientists. But we listen to some good ones.  We base our decisions on recommendations from our local Schoharie County Health Department, NY Forward guidelines and the CDC. 

107 Chapel Street, Cobleskill, NY 12043  |  518-234-3671

Rev. Anna Blinn Cole, Lead Pastor | pastor.anna.cole@gmail.com
Rev. Jongdeok Park, Associate Pastor | jong-deok.park@garrett.edu

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