Re-Opening the Church Building

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you today to let you know that the leadership of Salem United Methodist Church has voted to allow our church building to be reopened on Sunday, October 4, 2020 for the 9 AM service.

After six months of attempting to contain of the spread of COVID-19 throughout our congregation and community, our planning and efforts toward meeting again are finally coming together. First, we took the time and effort of cleaning and sanitizing common surfaces of the church building. Second, we purchased boxes of surgical masks, gloves, and an automatic hand sanitizer station (located to the right of the front door). Third, we are placing bulletins and communion elements in plastic bags for sanitary distribution. Fourth, we posted flyers that request your help in keeping our building clean and orderly, while also mitigating the spread of possible contagion.  The flyers list a set of approved guidelines that will be followed when we re-open the church building for Worship. These guidelines are the same as you have seen in for restaurants, grocery stores and other business places that receive customers on their property.

They include:

Forehead Temperature checks will be taken at the door

Wearing a mask while on the property

Washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and/or using hand sanitizer

Maintaining six feet of spacing between family groups

One-way movement up and down the stairs (except for use of the chair lift)

Sitting every other pew in front or behind

Singing quietly or humming only with mask on

No sharing of open food or drinks

Limited speaking in groups indoors (please take prolonged conversations outside)

Shortened service times

With these precautions, Church Mutual (our property insurance company) and the United Methodist Church (our denomination) is requiring each household to fill out a Liability Covenant agreeing that you understand that meeting together while there is no vaccine is a risk; that you release, covenant not to sue, discharge, and hold harmless Salem United Methodist Church, its employees, agents, and representatives, of and from all liabilities, claims, actions, damages, costs or expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to your participation in our programs, services or activities.

This is to be signed before re-entry into the building, need only be signed once, and will be kept on file within the church building. This document is non-binding; it will not stop you from doing those actions mentioned above; however, you are making a covenant not to do so. Our covenants are held seriously in the sight of God and allow us to build trust together, as we participate together in relative safety.  There will be a basket in the entry of the church where you can leave the signed form.

Without some assurance of relative safety, who would risk joining with anyone in public activities?

You may not have to sign a liability waiver to use other business places, but when gathering with a group for a prolonged period of time (>30 minutes) in the same space, it does increase risk.

If the mitigations of risk provided here are unacceptable to you, or if you have some symptoms of COVID-19 (especially a fever, frequent coughing and sneezing), or have traveled anywhere where COVID-19 was known to be present, we would ask that you please refrain from joining with others and seek the advice of medical professional before doing so.

This is an uneasy time fraught with many inconveniences and worries. Frustration with the unexpected sometimes causes us to become angry and resentful as we try to cope. We are continually praying as a congregation on behalf of our friends and neighbors that God will have mercy on us by helping us find a vaccine soon. We also continue to pray for those who have lost someone close to them while COVID-19 complicates their grief. Until we receive a vaccine, we will need to do all that we can to help each other stay reasonably healthy and whole. Please let us know if there is any way that we can help you navigate these uncertain waters. May the Lord keep you and your family whole to the end.

Access the Liability Covenant here.

Thanks and Blessings for the days ahead,

Rev. Terry Lee Corpier

Pastor of Salem United Methodist Church of Springtown, PA