COVID-19 Safety Team
Whittier Presbyterian, Salem Lutheran, and Scattering Seeds Fellowship)
Here are links and resources to help inform our discussions about safety plans for our building on Glengarry Ave.
Update as of 5/28/2020 As the building is owned by Salem Lutheran Church we are subject to the guidance of the Leadership of the Pacifica Synod of the ELCA. The Bishop will be making specific recommendations next week, but has indicated he may recommend keeping buildings closed through September First. (That does not mean the building would automatically reopen at that time, but we would keep that date in mind while preparing the building for safety)
Church Don’t Let the Corona Virus Divide you – Gospel Coalition
Gospel Coalition article on CDC guidelines
State of California guidelines for churches: Keep in mind that these guidelines refer frequently to they CDC’s guidelines which ask that those over 65 stay home. The majority of Whittier Presbyterian and Salem Lutheran is close to or over 65. So even if we followed all these rules few if any of our congregation should attend. It may be better to keep worship online and have very small outdoor, distanced fellowship gatherings instead.
The Plans of First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto While they will focus on other areas of ministry, they will no gather in-person for worship until 2021. I commend their plan, by doing away with the anxiety of when and how to meet safely they are now able to get serious about doing the work of the Gospel.
One church’s phased safety plan in Washington State (Pastor Josh is an old friend of Pastor Maggie)
Here is the Phased plan for St Mark Presbyterian church within our Presbytery This is a draft and I am told there are more edits to come. For instance this plan mentions small gatherings in homes. It is easier to sanitize a church classroom or office properly, than a home. So they are reconsidering that idea and these small groups may meet carefully spaced, with masks and sanitizing precautions in church spaces.
Recommendations from the Wisconsin Council of Churches on returning to buildings
The Wisconsin Council of Churches had a lot of resources that we may find useful here
These links are about the risks of singing (at least inside)
Resources for Choral Professionals During the Pandemic
We may want to get creative. Teach some songs in sign language, hold services in the parking lot when it’s sunny (still researching the safety of that), Have online singing services so we can still sing at home, etc.
During this time I have really emphasized the scripture (Matthew 4:6-7) during which Jesus is tempted in the wilderness and Satan asks Jesus to throw himself down and God will send his angels to save him and Jesus answers “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” God is most certainly our protector, but we are aware of the dangers and should not attempt to put God to the test without first taking all measures to keep ourselves and our congregations safe. I also believe that we offer the best witness to Christ in our communities by taking this seriously and loving our neighbors. If we become one more church linked to the spread we will offer a poor Christian witness that says our rights are more important than our neighbor’s health, which is not the message and love of Christ.
Here are some links from congregations where COVID-19 has spread.
“We Would Do Anything For Do Over” Calgary Church Hopes Others Learn from Their Tragic Experience
Another Church linked to spread
A Georgia Church reopened and then decided to close again after families were diagnosed with COVID-19
Virus Spread at a Church in Arkansas