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REQUIRED Church Opening PROCESs

Every church is required to present a plan to the District Superintendent and receive approval for any in-person activity. Scroll down to review the three Phases for Re-Opening to understand the process.  The Bishop will announce advancement into each Phase.

Re-Opening Documents

Find the re-opening guide; sample waivers, facility requests, and documents to apply for an exception.

COVID-19 Information

Bishop Updates, CDC, Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, the DSC FAQ, and COVID-19 Webinars.

Worship & Ministry

How-to guidance for online worship including copyright, grant application, and shared resources and discounts.

Phases for Re-Opening

The churches of the Desert Southwest Conference will follow the guidelines of the re-opening document, “Ministry in the Season of COVID-19 & Beyond,” which requires permission from the Bishop, in concert with the state and local guidelines.

Phase 1 Requirements

Your church may implement Phase 1 guidelines after Bishop Hoshibata declares your area is in Phase 1 based on the following conditions as gathered by church leadership. The Pastor consults with church leadership and the District Superintendent to confirm all requirements have been met.

  1. The 14-day downward trend of daily new cases per 100K population is reported in credibly sourced COVID-19 information sites such as covidactnow.org, and sources specific to your city/town.
  2. Hospitals are reporting ICU Headroom bed use below 60% (or 40% of beds are available).
  3. The Pastor and church leaders have confidence that implementing Phase 1 is in the spiritual and physical well-being of the community.
  4. The church has completed its comprehensive Re-Opening Plan (with covenant and waiver options) and it has been accepted by the District Superintendent.

Worship Guidelines

In-person, indoor worship continues to be suspended. Only those essential people needed for recording or live streaming the service may gather (no more than 10 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.

  • Outdoor worship of less than 50 persons, following all safety and sanitizing guidelines, may be considered through the District Superintendent.

Church Office and Small Groups

Churches may continue to encourage all employees and volunteers to continue to work from home. 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, 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.
  • Small-Groups such as for study, fellowship, and other ministries may gather in groups of no more than 10 people. Safety and sanitizing practices must be practiced along with distancing and wearing face masks.
  • If personnel or volunteers must do in-person work or ministry, no more than 10 people can gather 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 with the exception of permitted groups and other renters that have a contract with the church and where appropriate have signed a waiver. Weddings should continue to be postponed or conducted virtually. Outdoor memorial services of 10 or less people are allowed.

Preparation for Phase 2

Church leaders should start:

  • Organize sanitizing 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

Your church may implement Phase 2 guidelines after Bishop Hoshibata declares your area is in Phase 2 based on the following conditions as gathered by church leadership. The Pastor consults with church leadership and the District Superintendent to confirm all requirements have been met.

  1. All parts of Phase 1 continue to hold true.
  2. There is no evidence of rebounding COVID-19 case numbers in your local area and a 28-day downward trend in credibly sourced COVID-19 statistics is reported.
  3. Hospitals are reporting ICU Headroom bed use below 50% (or 50% of beds are available).
  4. Pastors and church leaders have confidence that implementing Phase 2 is in the spiritual and physical well-being of the community.

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 (click here to learn more about how the CDC classifies vulnerable individuals on the CDC website) 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 Small Groups

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.

  • 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.
  • Small groups such as for study, fellowship, and other ministries may gather. Safety and sanitizing practices must be practiced along with distancing and wearing of face masks. 

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

Your church may implement Phase 3 guidelines after Bishop Hoshibata declares your area is in Phase 3 based on the following conditions as gathered by church leadership. The Pastor consults with church leadership and the District Superintendent to confirm all requirements have been met.

  1. CDC, State, or Local authorities indicate that restrictions of gatherings, face masks, and distancing are lifted.
  2. No evidence of rebounding case numbers in the local area.
  3. Pastors and church leaders have confidence that implementing Phase 3 is in the spiritual and physical well-being of the community.

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 Small Groups

    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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