To Pastors and Congregational Leaders:
We greet you in this Lenten time with the hope that you and your family, and members of your congregation, are safe and well. We are pleased that the opportunity for vaccination has greatly increased and are hopeful that you and each of the members of your church will soon be fully vaccinated.
While most of the counties in Ohio remain in the red zone, we are seeing infection trends moving in a positive direction. With that good news, many have asked for our counsel on when and how to resume in-person indoor worship. Some churches have already taken that step. The CDC continues to discourage medium and large gatherings of people at this time. As infection rates continue downward, we are hopeful that recommendation will change.
As we anticipate resuming in-person worship, we should plan with caution. If your congregation is contemplating resuming worship, or has already done so, we would recommend the following:
- If your county is still in the red zone, don't hold in-person indoor services. If you are currently holding indoor services and your county returns to the red zone, pause your in-person gatherings. Consider waiting until your county is yellow before resuming in-person services. (current map shown below and linked with more details at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/public-health-advisory-system)
- During in-person gatherings, continue to wear face coverings.
- Maintain social distancing, providing at least six feet of separation between worshippers not of the same household.
- Avoid passing things to one another, such as communion trays, offering plates, and bulletins.
- Congregational singing indoors is still not recommended.
- Clean and sanitize frequently touched surfaces.
- Refrain from touching, hugging, and shaking hands.
- Suspend social and fellowship time and the sharing of food.
- We may be called on for contact tracing. Keep a record of those present for in-person services.
That is not the way that we prefer or are accustomed to being together. We are hopeful as the months go by that some of these precautions will be able to be relaxed. As the weather warms some of our congregations may have the option of worshipping together, more naturally, outside on their property.
Thank you for your faithful service among God’s people in this challenging time. Know that we continue to pray with and for you. We believe in the resurrection of our Lord, and the power of God demonstrated in that event to infuse our church with life and opportunity as we emerge from the pandemic.
May God’s blessing be on you,
Thad Allen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene James - email@example.com
Dean Phelps - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rick Spleth - email@example.com
Visiting Regional Ministers for the Christian Church in Ohio