Return to Church Plan for St. John’s UCC, Mokena as of August 12, 2020
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
We find ourselves facing a unique matter under heaven. This is a time to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan is the product of Pastor Rocky working with church council to work out the most appropriate plan for St. John’s. The phases in this plan correspond to the phases of the Restore Illinois plan that was presented on May 5th. We have also incorporated some best practices for churches gathered from recommendations from the Illinois Conference of the UCC. Many of those recommendations come from research done by the Missouri Mid-South Conference Minister, Rev Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel, who consulted, among other sources, the Center for Disease Control, State Departments of Health, and a comprehensive plan proposed by the Wisconsin Council of Churches. We have also had conversation with our church’s insurance carrier to make sure we aren’t overlooking anything.
Our approach to creating this plan was to be compliant with Illinois State Governor’s executive orders and plan to reopen, to consider best practices among churches, and take the safety of those we love very seriously.
Please note that it may be necessary to go back one or more phases if there is a second wave of infections. This plan may also need to be adjusted to reflect changes in the Restore Illinois plan or new recommendations for churches.
• Online Worship only
• Online Meetings only
• Church Office and Building Closed completely
• Limited in-person gatherings of 10 people maximum (such as for funerals)
• Online worship
• Online Meetings only
• Church Office closed
• Everyone wears a face mask.
1 All children, youth, and adults are included in this maximum number.
• In-Person gatherings of ten people or fewer. 1A Sanctuary can be open for small gatherings with the pastor.
• Everyone wears a face mask.
• Encourage those at high-risk to worship online. 2
• In-person worship should have space large enough to allow for physical distancing of 6 feet between family units with the following suggestions
• One family per pew/row with an empty pew/row separating every family unit.
• Every other pew/row is blocked off in order to create 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
• Assess worship space in advance in order to ensure physical distancing requirements can be met before, during, and after worship.
•In-person council and committee meetings should be held in the fellowship hall, which offers more space for social distancing than the lounge.
•No Sunday School, youth gatherings
•Remove pew bibles, hymnals, and cushions to facilitate easier cleaning of the sanctuary.
• Fellowship before and after service should be limited.
1 & 1A These numbers include children and youth. No more than 10 individuals
2 High Risk includes those age 60 or older, those with auto-immune challenges, those identified as high risk by your county’s Department of Health. Join in-person meetings via GoToMeeting.
Same as Phase Three, except that, in light of a new statement by Governor Pritzker allowing churches to open sooner, we allow up to 25 on June 14, then 50 people beginning June 21 to gather for Sunday worship.
• In-Person Worship (no more than 50 people worshiping in-person)
➢ Continue holding online worship along with in-person worship of no more than 50 people.
➢ Everyone wears a face mask.
➢ Encourage those at high risk to worship online.
High Risk includes those age 60 or older, those with other health issues,
➢ One family per pew/row with an empty pew/row separating every family unit.
➢ Every other pew/row is blocked off in order to create 6-foot physical distancing requirement.
➢ Limited singing at In-Person Worship
o Singing should be done while everyone wears their masks.
➢ No Personal Touch Rituals of In-Person Worship (including the following)
o No Passing of the Peace of Christ
o No Passing of Fellowship pad
o No Time with the Children (where children come forward)
o No Passing of Offering Plate (see below for alternatives)
o No Communion plate passing or intinction (see below for alternatives)
➢ All ushers must maintain physical distance of 6 feet.
➢ Fellowship before and after service should be limited.
➢ Youth and children's gatherings must keep activities no-contact and offer no food or snacks indoors at St.
John’s. Older youth may bring their own food and snacks to outdoor gatherings.
• All in-person church activities can be observed after a vaccine for COVID-19 has been developed, OR a treatment option has been developed that ensure health care capacity is no longer a concern, OR there are no new cases over a sustained period.
St. John’s COVID Case Increase Plan
If COVID-19 infections increase and the State of Illinois returns to a previous phase, St John’s will observe those recommendations.
If a member of St. John’s tests positive for COVID-19, and they have attended worship or a small group gathering at St. John’s in the previous fourteen days, St. John’s will suspend worship for at least two weeks, and other members who have attended worship or attended small group gatherings are encouraged to self-quarantine during the same period.
If someone becomes ill while in the building and showing symptoms of COVID-19 before phase five, the building will be evacuated and cleaned according to CDC guidelines. If the person with symptoms needs to be isolated while others leave the building, they will be isolated in the lounge.
Multiple Worship Recommendations for Cleaning
If St. John’s decides to have multiple worship services in the same space, the following suggestions should be considered:
• Allow time for people from the first service to leave so that we can fully clean worship space according to CDC guidelines before allowing worship attenders of next service to enter.
• Develop a plan to clean all areas between services including sanctuary, bathrooms, choir room, entry area/narthex.
• Close off all rooms not needed for worship such as Sunday School rooms, nursery, kitchens, closets.
Alternatives to Personal Touch Worship Rituals
1. Peace of Christ
a. Wave to people from their seats. Bow to each other. Air Fist Bump. Do not touch.
b. People are asked not to move around during the Passing of the Peace of Christ.
2. Time with the Children
a. Have Children remain in their seats with their families while the leader speaks from the front.
a. Provide online giving options.
b. After the service, the ushers (with gloves and mask) will pick up all envelopes.
c. Place an offering plate at the entrance of the worship space so that envelops can be dropped in before or after the worship service. The offering plate should not be left unattended.
a. Have worship attenders bring their own bread and juice.
b. If prepared by church leaders (wearing gloves and a mask), place bread and juice at the
entrance to the worship space.
c. In the CCC, have two council members present, not pass, communion trays to each
communicant. Cups of juice and cups with bread should space out on tray to prevent touching multiple cups. The council members wear mask and gloves. Communion trays remain covered until the time of distribution.
5. Pew Hymnals/Pew Bibles
a. Hymnals are only used during the first service.