"The building may be closed but the church is open!"
A Regathering Committee was appointed by the Moderator to help determine when and how our congregation might safely consider returning to our church building.
April 14, 2021
The Safe Regathering Committee has been collecting information and data about the issues we face in opening our church spaces after the shutdown. A survey of church members finds that 94% of us will be fully vaccinated by May 15.
We recommend a phased reopening starting in May with small church groups. We are hoping to be able to resume worship in our sanctuary in July.
Our recommendation is that small church groups be the priority during a phased reopening. The reasons for this include:
1) we believe it is wise to open in phases to ensure we can meet the cleaning/disinfecting necessary with known groups first.
2) by starting with small church group meetings, such as “Meet the Pastor” gatherings, our Bible study, or a prayer group, etc. we will be able to monitor the impact of small groups before opening to Sunday morning worship services etc. After a month or so, we can make a more informed decision about allowing outside groups to use the building for small gatherings. Additionally, protocols for outside groups need to be established, especially surrounding bathroom use, cleaning, etc.
3) Church groups also afford us an opportunity to re-enter our church spaces gradually. This has been a long season of missing our sanctuary and church building.
4) It is important that when we first regather, church members will be present to let our team know how it is going and what ideas or needs surface.
Our committee is researching state and county guidelines for the Orange Tier which we are now in. We are also checking with other churches to find out how they are approaching the reopening of worship. In addition, we will be seeking important information about eventually having live music in worship using safe protocols.
The committee plans to meet more frequently as we gather more information to help us make recommendations about a phased reopening. We expect to learn more as we gather research, watch the Covid-19 rates in Sonoma County and see the outcome of small groups of members gathering in our church.
Our priority is safe regathering, following all CDC, CADPH and local Health Department recommendations, and considering how other churches are planning to resume gatherings. Information will be forthcoming regarding the use of the kitchen, but until then we recommend the kitchen not be used. Individuals will need to bring their own water. Social distancing and wearing of masks will be required during all events.
We recommend all meetings have a process of approval to be determined by the Church Council.
Judy Adams, Mark Brumbaugh, Marcia Murray, Hannah Wallstrum
March 10, 2021 Report of the Safe Regathering Committee
The Safe Regathering Committee continues to review the guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the state Department of Public Health and Sonoma County Public Health Department. Sonoma County remains in the most restrictive Purple Tier, which limits public gatherings.
In considering how we will regather, we recognize a lot of thought and preparation will be required. It will take many weeks to accomplish. Issues we have discussed include: how we will begin, what accommodations we will need, what the capacity will be and how we will manage the flow of people. We will want to balance the needs of the fully vaccinated members with the not-yet-vaccinated members and our staff.
We believe a priority at this time should be a focus on vaccination and the support of people who need help accessing vaccinations. We recognize the systems used to schedule vaccine appointments have been confusing. Listed below are several websites, including the link to Sonoma County vaccine information. If you need information or support with navigating the system, contact the church office. A volunteer may be able to work with you to access the appropriate information for eligibility, clinics, registration etc.
The committee will continue to assess the data, weigh the risks and be mindful of the well-being of everyone of all ages and situations. We include a website and phone number for the County’s Warm Line. This is a free and private resource for anyone experiencing emotional stress and anxiety.
Currently Sonoma County Public Health recommends utilizing this website for vaccination information:
Sonoma County Mental Health Support During Covid Warm Line - (707) 565-2652
CDC - https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home
Submitted by the Safe Regathering Committee,
February Report from the Safe Regathering Committee
Sonoma County remains in the purple tier, so the Safe Regathering committee is not relaxing the guidelines for worship and building use. However, the trends seem to be positive: Covid case rates and hospitalizations have been declining, and people are getting vaccinated. The committee continues to monitor the changing guidelines put forth by state and local public health departments.
There are many older people who qualify for the vaccine shots, but don’t know how to access the information they need to get them. We encourage church members to reach out to people they know who may have difficulties navigating the websites. It is important that the most vulnerable get their shots as quickly as possible. Below is the site to get information and register for shots at the Fairgrounds, Safeway stores and Rohnert Park. There is also a list of other sites that are providing shots.
Report from Safe Regathering Committee
The County of Sonoma continues to be in the most restrictive purple tier. As of November 15, there were 15.2 new cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 4.3%. (https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/#county-status.)
We recommend that no changes be made at this time regarding reopening the sanctuary to use.
We will continue to monitor the State and County guidelines for churches; at the present time only outdoor worship with modifications are allowed.
Submitted by members of the Safe Regathering Committee on November 16, 2020.
Judy Adams Mark Brumbaugh Hannah Wallstrum
June 2020 - November 2020
“We are a group of 4 members who have been studying the issues to consider when we reopen the church to worship and other activities. We have learned about public health and safety concerns, government guidelines and how other churches are approaching this issue. Information on COVID is changing daily as more discoveries are made. Much of what we now know may become outdated by the time we can seriously consider moving forward with reopening. We're monitoring the COVID situation and information as it unfolds. For now, we're taking a carefully considered approach: the Task Force recommends continuing online worship and meetings for all our gatherings. As we learn more, we will provide updates to Council and members on plans for a safe return to the church building.”