Safe Regathering Committee (SRC)

Reports

 

 

 

  

 

 

A Regathering Committee was appointed by the Moderator to help determine when and how our congregation will be safely consider returning to our church building.

 

September 27, 2022

The Safe Regathering Committee (Judy Adams, Marcia Brumbaugh, Marcia Murray, and Hannah Wallstrum) continues to require that people wear masks during worship. Food is not allowed in the sanctuary. Beginning in October, masks will be optional for activities in Friendship Hall. For Sunday coffee hour or special events, we encourage people to gather and eat outside, weather permitting. This includes the Pastor’s installation on October 23. This guidance may change depending on the incidence of COVID in our county, in which case this committee will notify you of any changes in its recommendations.

 

September 6, 2022

First, we have a very exciting and important note to all our families and children:  Sunday School resumes on 9/11/22!!!  -  You may wonder what has been recommended regarding masks, etc.  Following CA Department of Public Health Policy, the good news is that masks are optional for teachers, helpers and children in Sunday School classroom(s). We do however request that when our children are in the sanctuary, Friendship Hall and other common areas, those over two years old, wear masks.  Teachers will have hand sanitizer, etc., at the ready. Parents are encouraged to have their children use the restroom before attending Sunday School.  

 

As stated in our August 4, 2022 report, there are some indications that we may be starting to pull out of the summer COVID surge but, as we usually say, the SRC continues to recommend the church keep its current mask protocol unchanged: Masks will continue to be worn in worship and singers will continue to mask while singing. Now that we are having Coffee Time again, the SRC adds a further mask mandate: when you leave the sanctuary to go into Friendship Hall, remain masked until you have gotten your food, your coffee or tea and taken it all outside. Once outside, you may remove your mask and enjoy food and conversation. The same protocol is to be followed at any future potlucks held at the church. We continue to strongly recommend everyone be masked whenever in hallways, kitchen, or bathrooms. Again, to reiterate, since transmission rates are still elevated, we are firm in our mask recommendations. We try to base our decisions based on what appears to support the safety of our congregants, especially babies, immunocompromised folks, and elders. To that end, we encourage everyone to be vaccinated and boosted, as vaccines are now readily available. If you would like help getting a vaccine/booster, please contact the church office. 

 

The SRC will continue to monitor infection numbers in our area and, as we’ve learned in the COVID world, things can change rapidly, so recommendations can change quickly. 

 

Judy Adams

Marcia Murray

Hannah Wallstrum

Marcia Brumbaugh (our new member replacing her dear late husband)

 

August 4, 2022

There are some indications that we may be starting to pull out of the summer COVID surge but, as we usually say, the SRC continues to recommend the church keep its current mask protocol unchanged: Masks will continue to be worn in worship and singers will continue to mask while singing. Now that we are having Coffee Time again, the SRC adds a further mask mandate: when you leave the sanctuary to go into Friendship Hall, remain masked until you have gotten your food, your coffee or tea and taken it all outside. Once outside, you may remove your mask and enjoy food and conversation. The same protocol is to be followed at any future potlucks held at the church. We continue to strongly recommend everyone be masked whenever in hallways, kitchen, or bathrooms. Again, to reiterate, since transmission rates are still elevated, we are firm in our mask recommendations. We try to base our decisions based on what appears to support the safety of our congregants, especially babies, immunocompromised folks, and elders. To that end, we encourage everyone to be vaccinated and boosted, as vaccines are now readily available. If you would like help getting a vaccine/booster, please contact the church office. The SRC will continue to monitor infection numbers in our area and, as we’ve learned in the COVID world, things can change rapidly, so recommendations can change quickly. Our next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, September 6, 1 p.m. Judy Adams

 

June 21, 2022

 

Yes, we all have probably reached the point of exhaustion with COVID. Though Dr. Fauci has now labeled COVID-19 endemic, meaning that it will probably always be present at a lower level, the SRC still recommends the church keep its current mask protocol unchanged: Masks will continue to be worn in worship and singers will continue to mask while singing.

 

When Sunday School begins again, the committee recommends masking be optional for both teachers and students, unless a parent requests that a teacher be masked. Also, any outside group using a room in our facility may decide for themselves whether to mask. However, we continue to strongly recommend everyone be masked whenever in hallways, kitchen, or bathrooms.

 

We try to make our decisions taking into consideration the safety of our congregants, esp. babies, immunocompromised folks, and elders. To that end, we encourage everyone to be vaccinated and boosted, as vaccines are now readily available. If you would like help getting a vaccine/booster, please contact the church office.

 

The SRC will continue to monitor infection numbers in our area and, as we’ve learned in the COVID world, things can change rapidly, so recommendations can change quickly. Our next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, August 2, 1 p.m.

 

May 17, 2022

 

 

After checking the recent Covid data for Sonoma County, the SRC agreed to continue our recommendation to wear masks during worship.  The exception to masking is mic’d leaders; singers will continue to wear masks. We also recommend wearing masks in the public areas of hallways, restrooms and the kitchen. 

 

The SRC will continue to monitor the Covid data and meet again as needed. If conditions change, we will adapt accordingly. 

 

 

April 27, 2022

 

We know people are mask-weary these days and the SRC is right there with you! Yet, with cases of COVID rising in Sonoma County right now, the SRC is recommending that the church keep its current mask protocol unchanged. We do not make this recommendation lightly, as we feel the responsibility of considering the safety of everyone: babies, immunocompromised folks, elders.

 

The SRC will continue meeting every couple of weeks to check infection numbers in our area and, as we’ve learned in the COVID world, things can change rapidly, so recommendations can change quickly. Our next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, May 18, 2 p.m.

 

Judy Adams

Mark Brumbaugh

Marcia Murray

Hannah Wallstrum   

 

 

February 15, 2022

Spring is a time of reawakening, renewal and reopening! The Safe Regathering Committee met to discuss reopening the sanctuary to worship, etc. Based on California and our county’s improving covid numbers, along with our county’s high vaccination rate, we happily recommend the following to the Church Council:

 

Immediately:

The choir can resume choir practice using the sanctuary, with singers wearing “singer masks.”

 

In March:

1) In person worship can begin on March 6th. For all March, we ask the congregation to wear masks during worship. We will have hand sanitizer available for use. We ask that members be aware of people’s space; not everyone may be ready to sit in proximity to others. We will hold specific chairs in the back for those people wishing to maintain social distance. 

2) Communion can resume using the policy developed by the Worship Team proposal shared with us by Pastor Diana at our meeting today.

3) Coffee hour can resume, and people will get their coffee and move to the outside. Pastor Diana will check with the Church Life team about arranging this. F&M needs to check that the coffee maker and grinder are operable. Judy Adams agreed to hold a training(s) on coffee preparation as needed. 

4) The kitchen will be open only for those prepping for Coffee Hour and Communion.  

5) Rooms used by outside groups can follow County guidelines regarding masks, but we encourage mask use. While sanitizing a space after meetings is no longer required, we do ask that building users to leave the space as clean as they found it.

6) Larger groups (over 35) will not be able to resume in person meetings on our campus until the F&M team determines and arranges any extra custodial needs. 

7) SRC will meet again on March 22. It is our hope, based on then County and California mandates and recommendations, that we will be able to expand our reopening in April, including optional face masks for fully vaccinated members, indoor coffee hour, etc. Our team believes that a soft reopening in March gives our staff and committees time to get things in place to safely meet the needs of our congregation for a more complete reopening. 

 

 

January 3, 2022

 

We had a far ranging discussion of the various proposals on how the church should respond, and the implications of each.  At the end, the committee members decided that we should revert to zoom meetings for the remaining Sundays in January, beginning with the one on January 9.  This was a very difficult decision but we all felt it was necessary at this time.

 

We believe that we should meet again, via zoom, on January 19 at 2:00 PM.  It is anticipated that this will be a short meeting of less than an hour in length, just to see how we are doing. 

 

 

November 8, 2021

 

In recent weeks, Sonoma County has been moved once again into the worst tier, moving from 8.8 cases per 100,000 mid-October to 12.5 at the end of the month. Since we don't want to close the sanctuary again, the following recommendations are amendments to our previous report.

 

1.      Bulletins will be printed and made available for visitors and others who are unable to get them on a phone or tablet.  We should still encourage regular attendees to download the bulletins on their devices. 

 

2.      Bill will be allowed to remove his mask while directing the choir during worship, provided he does not sing while unmasked.  All singers should wear masks, including Bill, during choir practice.  He is very near other singers during practices.

 

3.      Hymnals will be left under the chairs, but the song lyrics will be in the bulletin.  It seems likely that only members of a pod would share hymnals if they choose.

 

4.      The offering plate will not be passed, but a plate on the back table will be available for people to drop their donations.  The counters will wear gloves and masks when counting the offering.

 

We will review these guidelines as the Covid protocols and requirements evolve and make changes as needed.

 

October 14, 2021

 

Upon further research, the Safe Regathering Committee would like to propose the following clarifications to its September 28, 2021 recommendation to Council:

 

1. that the pastor be allowed to conduct indoor worship without being masked

2. that the congregation attending indoor worship wear masks but be allowed to sing 

    hymns, etc. behind their masks

3. the choir and anyone providing special music do so wearing singer masks.

 

September 28, 2021

 

The SRC met today to reexamine current CDC and County Department of Health guidelines with regard to Covid 19 and the Delta variant. After careful consideration, the recommendation is updated as follows:

1.      September services scheduled for outdoors will remain the same. The hope is to

begin offering indoor worship in October, with the first date dependent on how quickly word can reach congregants and plans can be made.

2.      When indoor worship resumes, the following protocols need to be in place: follow all signage signaling where to enter and exit the sanctuary. Worshippers will greet each other with an “elbow bump” in place of a hug. Masks will be required of anyone 2 years and older, along with sanitizing hands. Masks will be provided to anyone who needs one. As done now with outdoor worship, when the Pastor is preaching, she be allowed to remove her mask. The same would apply to anyone offering special music.

Attendees will sit with their family pod and remain 6 feet from others. Individual worshippers will also remain 6 feet for anyone else.

3.      No food or beverage will be permitted in the sanctuary. The kitchen will remain closed and no food or beverage will be served following worship.

4.      At the conclusion of the worship service, people will leave the building in the most expeditious manner possible.

 

 

 

August 31, 2021

 

     The SRC regrets to recommend the building remain closed for the time being. Recommending what feels like a step backward weighs heavily on all our hearts as we all truly want to regather and resume socially non-distanced activities. However, the science and the ways the variant is moving through the world gives us cause for concern.

     The SRC recommends that the building remain closed to all groups except as needed for worship, service music preparation and building maintenance. Staff and church officers are also allowed inside to carry out their responsibilities.

     Outdoor worship, as previously described, (masks on, socially distanced, hand sanitizer used) is still our top recommendation. Church and/or user groups that would like to meet outside on our patio without the benefit of bathrooms or church chairs are welcome… we would ask that such interest be cleared with the church office ahead of time.

 

June 2021

 

     The Safe Regathering Committee is delighted to report that we support the opening of our church building on July 6, 2021! March 2020 - July 2021 is a period of time we hope to never again endure, but light is slowly dawning at the end of the tunnel.

 

     The latest church guidelines and protocols are very pared down from last month’s document, reflecting the reopening of California on June 15, 2021. The document continues to reflect the latest from the CDC, the CDPH, and the County of Sonoma.  We have checked with the church’s insurance carrier (Church West) and the new guidelines are legally sound.  The guidelines may still seem too restrictive to some, but we want to create the safest space possible for all we serve, especially unvaccinated adults and children under 12.

 

The Safe Regathering of First Congregational UCC Santa Rosa

 

The Safe Regathering Committee (SRC) of First Congregational UCC Santa Rosa recommends that we reopen the building on July 6, 2021. 

In order to safely reopen our building, the SRC recognizes that not everyone is able to be vaccinated at this time (especially children). In order to provide the healthiest space possible, we request the following for all people in our building:

1.     Masks will be worn upon entering the building. Masks may be removed in private office space with mutual agreement.

2.     Maintain a safe distance (3-6’) from others not in your bubble when entering or exiting the building including the Sanctuary. Please avoid bunching up near doorways.

3.     Sanitize your hands as you walk in the building - recommended

4.     Kitchen is off limits for food prep. Beverages can be prepped in the kitchen (ex: coffee, juice). Food and beverages may be consumed outside or in private offices.

5.     If you are not vaccinated, please let us know how we might assist you in obtaining a shot.

 

Worship

This document does not address the many needs for safe regathering for in-person worship. The SRC and Worship Team are working with the Pastor and church musicians to create a hybrid worship service later in the summer/early fall.

 

SRC members: Judy Adams, Mark Brumbaugh, Marcia Murray, and Hannah Wallstrum with Pastor Diana Bell-Kerr

The Safe Regathering of First Congregational UCC Santa Rosa

 

The Safe Regathering Committee (SRC) of First Congregational UCC Santa Rosa recommends that we reopen the building on July 6, 2021. 

In order to safely reopen our building, the SRC recognizes that not everyone is able to be vaccinated at this time (especially children). In order to provide the healthiest space possible, we request the following for all people in our building:

1.     Masks will be worn upon entering the building. Masks may be removed in private office space with mutual agreement.

2.     Maintain a safe distance (3-6’) from others not in your bubble when entering or exiting the building including the Sanctuary. Please avoid bunching up near doorways.

3.     Sanitize your hands as you walk in the building - recommended

4.     Kitchen is off limits for food prep. Beverages can be prepped in the kitchen (ex: coffee, juice). Food and beverages may be consumed outside or in private offices.

5.     If you are not vaccinated, please let us know how we might assist you in obtaining a shot.

 

Worship

This document does not address the many needs for safe regathering for in-person worship. The SRC and Worship Team are working with the Pastor and church musicians to create a hybrid worship service later in the summer/early fall.

 

SRC members: Judy Adams, Mark Brumbaugh, Marcia Murray, and Hannah Wallstrum with Pastor Diana Bell-Kerr

 

 

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.

 

Websites:

 

Currently Sonoma County Public Health recommends utilizing this website for vaccination information:

https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/ 

 

Sonoma County Mental Health Support During Covid Warm Line -  (707) 565-2652

https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/mental-health/#warmLine

 

CDC -  https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#datatracker-home

 

 

Submitted by the Safe Regathering Committee,

Judy Adams

Mark Brumbaugh

Marcia Murray

Hannah Wallstrum

 

 

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.

 

https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/County-to-vaccinate-those-70-and-older-starting-Monday/ 

 

 

Judy Adams

Mark Brumbaugh

Hannah Wallstrum

Marcia Murray

 

 

November 2020

 

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.”