Apostles Church Family, on Sunday November 15th we held our first indoor gathering since March! It was a joy to get to see many of you and to worship in person. As we look toward our next gathering on December 13th, here are the safety protocols for our Sunday Worship Gatherings at Regis High School. Our plan meets or exceeds all requirements for religious gatherings outlined by the New York State Department of Health.
WHAT WILL GATHERINGS BE LIKE?
The content of our liturgy (singing, Scripture reading, preaching, Communion) will not change, but the obvious changes will be our measures to abide by all NYS DOH Phase 4 guidelines for church gatherings:
- Masks - Masks will be required for all attenders and volunteers throughout the service, except children under 2, and anyone with a documented medical exemption.
- Preregistration - Attenders will be required to preregister their households online. The online registration will also ask standard COVID-19 screening questions regarding recent symptoms, infection, exposure, and travel.
- On-site Screening – Upon arrival, each attender will have his or her temperature taken and be asked if there have been any changes to their preregistration screening responses. Anyone not cleared at screening will be asked to return home.
- Distancing - Attenders will be asked to maintain 6 ft. of distance from people outside their household at all times in the building. During the service, households will be spaced 12 ft. apart to meet NYS protocols for indoor gatherings with singing, and masks will remain on even during singing. Additionally, there will be directional signage throughout the space seeking to promote distancing.
- Personal Greetings – As difficult as it will be, we ask you to please avoid shaking hands or hugging people outside your household. Instead, please just wave.
- No Kids Ministry - There will not be in-person Kids Ministry, so children will remain with their families. As weather permits families with small children can utilize the courtyard during the service to free up some members of their household to continue worshipping if a little one needs a break. As restrictions lift across the city, we plan to gradually reintroduce Kids Ministry.
- Vulnerable Population Seating – Seating in the balcony will be reserved for vulnerable populations (e.g. those over 70, who have underlying health conditions, or those how are immunocompromised).
- Communion - Communion will be offered in self-serve pre-packaged individual containers. One member from each household will be directed during the service to collect enough for their household before the congregation takes the elements together.
- Capacity Restrictions - Restrooms, elevators and smaller common spaces will have posted capacity restriction signage in accordance with NYS protocols.
- Ventilation – As long as weather permits, the auditorium doors to the courtyard will be open throughout the gathering.
- Digital Giving – We will not be receiving physical checks or cash during the offering for the time being. Instead, please take advantage of our app or text to give options instead. And if anyone needs help at all related to giving a gift, they can ask a Connections Team member wearing a blue lanyard who will be glad to help.
- Live-streaming – The service will continue to be live-streamed through our website for all those unable or uncomfortable to gather in person.
- Phased Regathering – Mindful of the increased complexity needed to adapt to all the above protocols, we are planning a phased-in regathering approach to allow for operational issues to be resolved before we return to meeting on a weekly basis. At present we plan to meet indoors at Regis High School again on December 13th. We will reevaluate our capacity to conduct more frequent services at the beginning of 2021.
- Cleaning & Disinfection – We plan to adhere to hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health (DOH) and the Regis custodian plans to maintain cleaning logs on site that document date, time, and scope of cleaning.
- Hand Sanitizer Stations – Hand sanitizer will also be made available at stations at the entrance and exit, throughout the lobby, restrooms, and auditorium to encourage attendees to maintain hygiene.
free to choose
It is good for the saints to gather and it is our desire to make that possible even with unusual but temporary safety protocols aimed at honoring our authorities and loving our neighbors. Yet, we recognize not everyone may feel comfortable gathering yet and that's OK. Gathering in person is not a test of righteousness for any of us, so choose freely as God leads you. To accommodate whatever you choose, live-streaming will be provided for each indoor gathering so no one is prevented from worshipping.