REQUIRED Church Opening PROCESs

Use the Ministry in the Season of COVID-19 & Beyond document linked to the orange button below to create a team and a plan for the re-opening of a church facility. Leadership are required to present a plan to the District Superintendent and receive approval for specific activity or ministry from the Bishop before re-opening.

Q&A Webinars:

Resources in response to the questions from the checklist webinar and the legal issues webinar will be available on this page as they are developed.

Current Recommendation

The Desert Southwest Conference is currently practicing suspension of all in person gatherings and worship.  For more detailed information about our current guidelines click here.

 

Looking and Planning Ahead

Before proceeding with the implementation of any of these phases, the Bishop’s office must have given permission to proceed with these phases.

 

Phase 1

Phase 1 begins when state and local officials have reported a 14 day downward trend of cases, hospitals are treating patients without crisis care, and there is a robust testing program in place, including antibody testing. 

Phase 2

State and local officials must have successfully met  the criteria of phase 1, and there must be evidence through case reporting, testing, and community monitoring that there is no evidence of a rebound.

Phase 3

State and local officials must have successfully met the criteria of phase 1 and 2, and there must be evidence through case reporting, testing, and community monitoring that there is no evidence of a rebound.

24 Questions

Ken Braddy offers questions to help churches think through reopening in their context.

First Sunday Back

Prepare your leaders and teams for all kinds of situations when you begin gathering again.

Think It Through!

Recommendations from churches in states that are re-opening for everything from tech teams to preschools.

Phase 1

The Desert Southwest Conference recommends all churches and ministries follow the state and local guidance regarding reopening churches.  Once all of the following conditions have been reported by local officials in your area:

  1.  A 14-day downward trend in COVID-19 cases reported in your area.
  2.  Providers are offering a robust testing response including antibody testing.
  3.  Hospitals are treating all patients without crisis care.
  4. Pastors and church leaders can ensure that implementing phase one is in the spiritual and physical well being of the community.

Your church may implement Phase 1 guidelines after the Pastor has consulted with church leadership and with the DS.

Worship Guidelines

In-person worship continues to be suspended. Only those essential people needed for recording or live streaming the service may gather (no more than 5 people) while maintaining personal protective measures and staying at least 6 feet apart. No singing in-person at this time. Choirs and other musical groups  should continue to meet virtually.

Church Office and Services

Churches should encourage all employees and volunteers to continue to work from home, and offices should continue to suspend in-person services. Pastors and personnel should meet only virtually or by phone.

  • Daycares and Church Schools should continue to follow state and local guidance regarding operation and if open must follow health department guidelines.
  • Food Pantries, church-based health clinics, and shelters or other essential services provided by the church should continue to follow state and local guidance regarding operation and must follow state and CDC guidelines.
  • If personnel or volunteers must do in person work, people should be on campus two or three at a time, follow  all personal protection guidelines, and keep six feet apart, and all surfaces touched must be sanitized.

Church Buildings

Church buildings and common areas should remain closed.  Community groups, support groups, and other renters should continue to meet virtually.  Weddings and memorial services should continue to be postponed or conducted virtually.

Preparation for Phase 2

Church leaders should start:

  • Organizing sanitation or cleaning teams, policies, and practices for all areas that will be used when churches resume in person work.
  • Mark off your worship space to ensure people are seated six feet from one another.
  • Discuss holding multiple services to reduce the number of people present.
  • Determine what practices will be used for offering collection, communion, baptism, and greeting to ensure the maximum protection of all members of the church.
  • Determine how to offer services for the vulnerable populations who will be encouraged to stay home until phase 3.

Phase 2

The Desert Southwest Conference recommends all churches and ministries follow the state and local guidance regarding reopening churches.  Once local officials in your area have:

  1.  Successfully implemented all parts of Phase 1
  2.  And there is no evidence of rebound in case numbers in your local area.
  3. Pastors and church leaders can ensure that implementing phase two is in the spiritual and physical well being of the community.

Your church may implement Phase 2 guidelines, after the Pastor has consulted with church leadership and with the DS.

Worship Guidelines

In person worship may be conducted for groups of 50 or fewer people, maximum social distancing and personal protection measures should be exercised.  All vulnerable individuals (learn more about how the CDC classifies vulnearble individuals at the CDC website, click here) should continue to worship from home and churches should make every effort to serve homebound individuals.  If maximum social distancing and item/surface sanitization is not possible, groups should continue to find alternative way of worshiping.

Food fellowship events should be avoided. 

All contact surfaces must be sanitized after use:

  • Backs and sides of pews and chairs (remove all books and materials from pew backs)
  • Piano, organ, choral equipment, other musical equipment and instruments
  • Pulpit, lectern, altar/table
  • Door knobs, push-plates, handles, and press bars
  • Railings
  • Counter tops
  • Churches should not be passing offering plates!
  • Equipment such as microphones and computers
  • Light and fan switches
  • Tables
  • Toys
  • Restroom surfaces

Church Office and Services

If possible, churches should encourage all employees and volunteers to continue to work from home.  Pastors and personnel should continue to meet virtually or by phone whenever possible.

If opened, offices must implement sanitation practices for all surfaces and ensure regular and consistent cleaning.

  • Day cares and Church Schools should continue to follow state and local guidance regarding operation and if open must follow health department guidelines.
  • Food Pantries, church based health clinics, and shelters or other essential services provided by the church should continue to follow state and local guidance regarding operation and must follow state and CDC guidelines.

Church Buildings

Church buildings and common areas that reopen must implement sanitizing and social distancing guidelines.  Community groups, support groups, and other renters that meet must operate under moderate physical distancing protocols.  Weddings and memorial services may be conducted for groups of less than 50 following the guidelines for sanitizing, and avoid food service.

Preparation for Phase 3

Church leaders should evaluate and continue:

  • Cleaning teams, policies, and practices are implemented for all areas are being used as churches resume in person work.
  • Keep worship space marked off to ensure people are seated six feet from one another.
  • Continue to pay attention to local guidance regarding case numbers and community spread.

Phase 3

The Desert Southwest Conference recommends all churches and ministries follow the state and local guidance regarding reopening churches.  Once local officials in your area have:

  1. No evidence of rebound in case numbers in the local area
  2. Pastors and church leaders can ensure that implementing phase three is in the spiritual and physical well being of the community.

Your church may implement Phase 3 guidelines, after the Pastor has consulted with church leadership and with the DS.

Worship Guidelines

Worship may resume and vulnerable populations may resume attending.  Food fellowship events may resume.  Sanitation practices must remain in place.

Church Office and Services

    Regular church office work other church-based services may resume, including in-person meetings.  Sanitation practices must remain in place.

    Church Buildings

    Church buildings and common areas may resume normal regular practices with good sanitation and cleaning being maintained.  Community groups, support groups, and other renters may resume regular meetings and events.  Weddings and memorial services may resume.

    Ongoing work

    Church leaders should continue:

    • Cleaning teams, policies, and practices are implemented for all areas are being used as churches resume regular activities.
    • Churches should take time to review COVID-19 crisis response and evaluate what worked, what didn’t, what can be learned, and practiced should another pandemic occur.
    • Churches should develop a financial backup plan should another crisis occur.
    • Continue to pay attention to local guidance regarding community health and outbreaks.

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