First United Methodist Church – The Coppertop
Approved by the FUMC Administrative Council on 5/26/2021; revised on 9/12/2021, on 1/20/22, and again on 3/15/22
Covid-19 Protocol Update
Thank you for making decisions, during this season of covid, to ensure that everyone who participates in activities through our church are physically and emotionally safe. Your cooperation and love is a wonderful way of expressing your faith commitment.
Given the significant decline in positive COVID-19 rates in our area, your Church Council has decided to adopt the following approach as we transition to an endemic way of being together. We are doing this with real time monitoring, so protocols are subject to change if data changes. Here is the current plan:
Starting Sunday, March 20:
• Masks will be encouraged and available but not required on Sunday mornings except when singing (so please bring a mask). We will still sit every other row.
• Coffee and donuts will be available following worship in the fellowship hall if we can find people to do the set up and clean up.
• Masks will be optional in the church building unless the group, or group leader, decide to make a different choice. Please honor your group/group leader if it is deemed best for masks to be worn. (Note: Bell Choirs, RingJam, Nursery Attendants and Livestream Team will continue to wear masks while in those activities).
• Please wear masks while visiting the church office as it is a small space.
• Anytime there is singing masks must be worn
• For April communion we will still use the individually packaged elements.
• When appropriate for the children’s message, children can come up front. The giver of the message will ensure the message is also inclusive of children participating online.
• Wednesday dinner can take place for families in the fellowship hall. Only one family per table and the tables must be spaced.
• We will allow light catered receptions (not full meals) in the fellowship hall for funerals and other events with capacity not exceeding 75 people.
EASTER SUNDAY we want to see many people in person at 10am worship so we are requiring masks that Sunday, but will eliminate the every other row spacing (we will have one section that maintains every other row).
In order to make this work, and to continue keeping everyone safe, everyone is going to need to do good self-monitoring.
• If you are ill, please stay home and use online opportunities.
• Please feel comfortable worshipping on YouTube from your home and attending church meetings via zoom if that is safest and best for you.
• Please get vaccinations if you haven’t already done so.
The overall health and well-being of the congregation has been, and will continue to be, our utmost priority. Remember, we are doing this with real time monitoring, so protocols are subject to change if data changes. We greatly appreciate your ongoing patience and adherence to our pandemic protocol in this most unusual time.
Pastor Jeanine Alexander
Scott Hedlund & Ron Berkeland (church council chairs)
on behalf of your Church Council
Current COVID Surge Plan
We will continue to offer in-person and quality livestream worship on YouTube, encouraging people to participate online, and for those in-person, intentional social distancing and constant masking (we have a very large Sanctuary so are able to be safely spaced).
We will encourage adult team meetings and groups to meet online. When groups meet in person, intentional social distancing and constant masking should be maintained.
Our Confirmation Retreat was half outdoors, tubing, and half on Zoom, and planned with great creativity.
On Wednesday, January 26 and Wednesday, February 2, in-person children and youth programs will take a break. Individual leaders of groups will contact participants to let them know how continued engagement will occur. We will notify you when in-person groups will resume.
There was no Sunday School through the end of January. We will notify you when in-person groups will resume. Special activity bags will be provided to the kids in worship as well as the usual children’s message in worship.
There will be no Wednesday or Sunday nursery care through the first week of February. We will notify you when nursery care will resume.
We are continuing our “no eating in the building” policy (because masks need to be on at all times).
We are doing our best! Are we doing it perfectly? We surely are not. Are we trying to help contain the spread, care for the vulnerable, and care for those working in hospitals? Absolutely! Your continued patience is requested. Thank you for doing all you can to create a physically and emotionally safe church environment.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact our church council chairs Scott Hedlund and Ron Berkeland, or Pastor Jeanine.
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.
- 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.