Guidance and Protocols from the BHUMC Re-opening Task Force
The pastors have convened a team of leaders to address the steps needed toward re-opening the building for meetings and gatherings. This task force is meeting regularly, and carefully studying recommendations and practices from our denominational authorities, as well as from county and state health agencies.
The team affirms that the life of this church has been accessible and responsive during this pandemic, with worship, study, prayer and fellowship continuing and growing. We are grateful that congregation members are reaching out to care for one another in many ways.
The team intends our building to be truly a sanctuary, a place where soul and body are respected, nurtured, and kept safe. Therefore, in order to guard the health of church staff and church members, the re-opening task force has put in place some protocols for use of the building. Thank you for your cooperation. Let us work together to remain welcoming and supportive to one another while guarding the health of all.
March 5, 2022 - Masks are OPTIONAL As of March 3, the ReOpening team recommends that masks be optional in the building, for preschool, Sunday School, group meetings, staff offices, and worship. There is one EXCEPTION for the time being: we request people bring and put on a mask, if they wish to sing. The team will re-evaluate this exception in the upcoming weeks until we see that transmission rates continue to improve, according to the data sources that we consistently use. In addition: Group gatherings may include food (BUT, we are not yet at the point of serving meals or gathering the public for food-related events.)
2/28/22 The ReOpening Team finds encouragement in the decreasing number of infections. (County by county data can be found at: Positive Tests Over Time, by Region and County | Department of Health (ny.gov)) As we stated last week, we will continue to use masks in the building at least as long as masking is required in schools. This is for two reasons: we want families to have a similar experience in participating in church activities that they would in interacting with school, and: we ARE a school. Our ministry extends to the vulnerable pre-schoolers whom we welcome every weekday. There are some changes:
Sign in sheets have been removed – no need to sign in upon entry on Sunday, or on weekdays.
Fellowship time! Knight Hall will be open and heated after the 10:30 worship service, for catching up with church friends. (We cannot offer this after the first service at the moment; Knight Hall is used for children’s ministries in the time between the two services – but please take time to catch up with others in the sanctuary.)
Ushers are available to help you find a seat in the sanctuary that suits your comfort level. While we don’t see a need to enforce strict distancing, we do ask that you please allow some “breathing space” around you, and be aware of others’ comfort.
The offering, and offertory music, have returned, and we are standing for hymns. Worship is a time to celebrate with heart, hands, voices and feet!
As of 3/4/22, masks are now optional, except while singing during worship.
Meetings onsite still need to be scheduled with the church office. The limitation to one group meeting at a time is lifted; there may be more than one meeting, so long as each is properly scheduled and uses the space reserved for them. Food may be shared in small-group meetings.
Entering the building: The rear doors are now unlocked during office hours.
Zoom will continue to be available for any group that wishes to use it for a meeting or study, or to create hybrid gatherings including remote and on-site participants. The church will maintain the Zoom subscription for the coming year.
Cleaning – building will be regularly cleaned by custodian. Disinfectant spray will continue to be supplied in bathrooms and kitchen. Chairs and tables do not need to be disinfected after meetings. Air cleaning equipment will be used during gatherings in sanctuary or Knight Hall.
Food service possibilities are improving, though care is still needed – watch for further news about Community Lunch, LAF and other opportunities. If you’d like to read what our Annual Conference leadership recommends, their guidelines are online at: Church COVID 19 Guidelines | The Upper NY Conference (unyumc.org) . You will note that particular caution is still urged around in-person singing.