COVID–19 Policy–Updated September 12, 2021

August 12, 2021

First United Methodist Church – The Coppertop

COVID Policy

Approved by the FUMC Administrative Council on 5/26/2021; revised 8/12/2021

COVID GOAL: To keep our congregation alive – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

From Our Minnesota Annual Conference/Bishop Bard:  Given Governor Walz’s order removing the indoor masking mandate, and the dropping numbers in Minnesota, our conference will move to the Blue Phase on May 28 when all social distancing and capacity restrictions are ended. What this means is that COVID is still with us, but the risk is less, and each congregation needs to discern what guidance to offer for their context. The good news is that 61.7% of Minnesotans have received at least one vaccine dose. Our case numbers are on the decline and there have been days with no deaths. The bad news: the global situation is still staggering and there will be new variants that will test the efficacy of our vaccines. We are still seeing outbreaks in restaurants, gyms, schools, sports and most recently prom. We are encouraged by the Minnesota Department of Health to meet as much outdoors as we can. It will help keep those numbers going down and protect those most vulnerable among us. Remember, our children under 12 cannot get a vaccine yet.

CURRENT POLICY FOR FUMC:

Worship & Other Gatherings in the Sanctuary (funerals, weddings …)

  • Starting Sunday, May 30, worship will be live in our Sanctuary and livestreamed into people’s homes (we will have worship onsite and online)
  • We will provide social distancing in the Sanctuary by having congregants sit every other row (that provides about 5 ½ feet distance). You need to choose seating that feels safe/comfortable for you. If you want additional space, please take it. Our Sanctuary is large and provides for the distance people need. If someone is sitting too close to you, please feel free to move. If someone moves away from you, please do not take offense and know that we are all working on the best ways to individually and corporately be/feel safe. Let’s be gracious with, and kind to, each other.
  • Masks are to be worn at all times inside the building.

Note: Some people have chosen to not be vaccinated (although the conference and our church strongly encourages vaccination, some people, for a variety of reasons, don’t make that choice). Some who are immunocompromised are not vaccinated… some with a significant history of allergic reactions are not vaccinated. Children under 12 don’t yet have the opportunity. Please respect each others’ choices about mask wearing—we all have different vulnerabilities. We are called to care for all.  

  • Masks are required for those participating in congregational singing
  • We will continue to offer hand sanitizer and masks as part of our hospitality
  • Hymn books are back in the pews and can be used, if chosen; words will also be projected (airborne transmission, rather than surface transmission, appears to be the primary means of spreading the disease).
  • The offering will not be collected by the passing of plates. Offering plates will be at the entrance of the Sanctuary and at the front (to limit the number of hands touching an object).
  • Communion will be served in individual cups and with pre-cut bread. People may bring their own communion elements.
  • Baptisms can take place with all people wearing masks.
  • Interior doors should be propped open as people are entering and exiting the church. Exterior doors should be cared for by one greeter per door.
  • Children will not gather up front for Children’s Messages but will remain with their families in their pew. Children’s Messages will be provided as well as worship activity bags.
  • As long as weather permits, Sunday fellowship time following worship will be outdoors in the East Parking Lot.

Children & Youth

  • We ask all children, youth and adult volunteers to wear masks during indoor activities, until more children and youth are able to be vaccinated.
  • The Nursery is open and staff will be masked. Parents are asked not to bring children who are not feeling well.

Church Office & Building

  • The church office and building is open.
  • Masks are required in the building.
  • Before an individual or group is present in the building, they must request space from the Director of Operations or a designee. They must be familiar with, and follow, our COVID-19 policy. We will ensure rooms are sanitized before and after gatherings.
  • Group and Outreach events, such as Ruby’s Pantry, will need to present their plan for safety to our Director of Operations and staff, and must follow our policies, if they wish to utilize indoor space.

Congregational Care 

  • In-person hospital, home, and care center visits by the pastor/parish nurse/lay pastors/staff will be available. Those visiting will wear masks.

Fellowship & Food

  • We encourage outdoor fellowship and eating.
  • Food may not be eaten inside the building. The exception is for church staff, who may eat alone at their desks and each person in a separate room.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our changing world.