Important Notice on Re-Opening
Dear Oxford First United Methodist Church,
In this COVID-19 pandemic, we have been learning life lessons in totally different perspectives. What are you learning about life? What are you learning about who you are? What are you learning about what the church is all about? I pray that God will grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and wisdom to know the difference. May God’s peace continue to guard your heart and mind in Jesus Christ!
At this moment, we are cautiously excited about reopening our in-person worship service this Sunday June 21, 2020. To obtain more room for social distancing at the sanctuary, our church will provide two different Sunday morning worship services: 9 AM and 10:30 AM. We will honor and respect the decisions of those who choose to continue worshiping online in an effort to maintain health. As we expect almost half of our congregants to come back to our worship service in June (based upon the poll we took), it is mandatory to abide by the protocols below. Please don’t think COVID-19 has gone away just because restrictions have been loosened. Nobody can predict how it comes. Please do right things to protect you and others from this virus. Don’t think that you don’t have to wear masks or practice social distancing just because you think you are strong and healthy enough. Following guidelines is one of our Wesleyan spiritual disciplines called “Do No Harm,” which should be observed not only for you but also for others. Scientists and medical professionals suggest that wearing masks drastically decline the transmission probability of virus especially in the gathering of people like our in-person worship.
See below the steps we’re taking as a church. These protocols will not be in place forever, but we will use them as long as necessary to ensure we can worship God safely and healthily. Some protocols can be relaxed when the pandemic starts winding down, but there also is the potential the pandemic could get worse and we have to cancel physical services again. When we do start, it will not be like flipping a light switch. We will resume one step at a time. I care deeply about you, and we have developed a detailed plan for re-entry into the church building. We will continue to monitor the situation and will communicate any changes. Keep praying for God to bring healing to our world from this virus.
Sunday Morning Worship
- Is to resume this Sunday June 21st at 9 AM and 10:30 AM.
- If you are feeling sick, stay home, even if you are a staff person.
- We will continue live streaming the service via Facebook Live (at 10:30 AM) for those who stay home.
- Everyone will wear a mask in church. We encourage you to bring your own mask. You may have bought one, made one, or have a bandana or scarf that could work. Even though it may feel awkward, we will be singing with masks on. We will have a supply of extra masks for the person who comes to church without one.
- We are closing off every other row of pews to encourage social distancing. Every household should be 6 feet apart from another household. The number of people within each household varies, which makes determining our church’s seating capacity tricky. Our estimate is that the capacity of our sanctuary is around 42 people. The seats in the chancel choir will also be available for people to sit if we exceed capacity.
- Every worshiper will be entering the sanctuary through the propped open front door, guided by ushers to be seated to certain places.
- Ushers will dismiss us at the end of the service. As it would be impossible to maintain social distancing when leaving at the same time, we will be dismissed one row at a time at the end of the service. We’d like to encourage everyone to leave the sanctuary and foyer right after the service is over. You can visit and talk outside the church (make sure you maintain social distance and don’t clog up the pathway to the exit).
- We will have several alcohol-based hand sanitizers in obvious places.
- Per the recommendation of the bishop’s task force, all Bibles, hymnals, children’s busy bags, and pens will be removed from our pew racks and foyer to reduce the spread of germs. Lyrics, Bible passages, etc. will be on the screens.
- Don’t shake hands, hug, kiss, fist bump, spit, Chinese finger-lock, dance an Irish jig, or do anything involving physical contact in greeting others.
- There will be no bulletins handed out for the service during this phase.
- There will be no passing of the peace/meet and greet time in this phase.
- There will be no passing of the plates to collect an offering. Instead, there will be a box in an obvious place for you to drop off your donation to the church.
- There will be no nursery in this phase. Children are encouraged to worship with parents. You are welcome to bring your own coloring books, toys, or games to keep your kids occupied, as we will not be utilizing the shared children’s busy-bags.
- There will be no vocal or hand bell choir in this phase.
- There will be no Sunday School in this phase.
- We will not offer any food, coffee, or consumables in this phase.
- Children aged 2 and under are not required to wear a mask.
- For those who are age 65+, have a complicating condition, or are immunocompromised, we’re not going to say you can’t come to church, but we strongly encourage you to use caution in caring for your health. If you’re in doubt, stay home. This virus is extremely dangerous for you.
- We will have a cleaning team to disinfect the sanctuary and heavy touch areas in the foyer, office, sound booth, and bathrooms once the service is over. The cleaning team will use disposable gloves.
- Only one person will be allowed in each bathroom at a time to limit the possibility of transmission.