First United Methodist Church—The Coppertop
COVID Policy as of May 26, 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 outdoors as much 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 and Other Gatherings in the Sanctuary (funerals, weddings, etc.)
- Starting Sunday, May 30, worship will be live in our Sanctuary and live-streamed into people’s homes (we will have worship onsite and online).
- You no longer need to sign up in advance to attend church in person. Just come.
- We will provide social distancing in the Sanctuary by having congregants sit in 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.
- We strongly encourage mask wearing of all congregants for the well-being and comfort of all. We urge masks for those not fully vaccinated, immunocompromised, or feeling ill or uncomfortable.
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 (we recognize that 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 are welcome to 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.
- At the end of worship, our ushers will dismiss us row by row where we will go outdoors for our fellowship time.
- Sunday fellowship time following worship will be outdoors in the East Parking Lot where coffee, water, and donuts will be provided. On days when the weather is bad, we will have fellowship time in Lakeview Social Hall.
Children and 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.
- Upon initial reopening, the nursery will be unavailable. We will be continually revisiting this.
Church Office and Building
- The church office and building is open. Fully vaccinated staff may choose to not wear masks when working together, but will usually wear masks when interacting with congregational members.
- We ask that all unvaccinated members of the congregation wear masks when in the building for their safety, and encourage others to do so, especially when in larger groups.
- 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 and Food
- Outdoor fellowship and eating is encouraged as much as possible as the safest option.
- Food can be provided/consumed indoors and will include marked “social distance tables” for those who want to comfortably be a safe distance from others. All tables will be placed with distance between them.
- Food should be served by people wearing gloves and, preferably, masks.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our changing world.
As this document continues to be updated, we will continue to inform you.