Special guidelines for in person worship at Cheatham Memorial UMC

I want you to know how much we miss seeing your faces not only on Sunday morning, but throughout the week! Your staff and leadership have been praying for you constantly, and we continue to walk alongside you through these unprecedented times.

In the wake of Governor Abbott’s reopening of Texas, Cheatham Memorial United Methodist Governing Church Council voted to begin in-person worship again on June 7th, 11th & 13th. These special guidelines are in keeping with the latest information and instructions by the CDC and the Texas Annual Conference in order to keep those who decide to worship in the sanctuary. We also want to make sure you are aware that we will continue our On-Line Worship as In order to provide safe opportunities to worship for all the different demographics of the church based on the guidance we have received.

We will be offering 3 worship opportunities:

Sunday’s at 10 am – Praise worship (no childcare will be available) – Broadcast on our Facebook Live site or watch it on this page from the live feed located at the lower right column.

Thursday’s 10 am – Worship for Seniors and those At Risk – This will be for those over 65 years old or that have underlying medical conditions.

Saturday’s 11 am – Messy Church Family Worship – Focused on families with Children. This service will happen every other Saturday starting on June 13th in the children’s wing.

Although we’re incredibly excited about this prospect, two things need to be clarified at the outset:

  1. If you are in a vulnerable demographic because of age or medical condition, please do not attend. We are desperate to see you, but not willing to risk your health and safety for it! Likewise, if you do not yet feel safe enough to break shelter-in-place protocols, you should stay home. We want you to know that we are going to continue a robust, online ministry so that you can continue to participate as fully as possible, given the current conditions.
  2. Unfortunately, Sunday mornings still won’t feel ‘normal.’ As we consider returning to live-worship, we are committed to meeting or exceeding as many of the recommended guidelines as possible from the local, state, and federal authorities with regard to health and hygiene in order to create a safe environment for those who wish to join us in-person. To that end, I want to invite you to read the following carefully before considering whether you will attend in-person.

BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

The worship schedule has been set so that there is 72 hours between occupation by the congregation.  Our understanding is that the virus cannot live on most surfaces beyond 72 hours. Before you arrive, the sanctuary, bathrooms and fellowship hall will be cleaned and disinfected the night before to ensure that if the virus can last longer, that it will be removed by the disinfectants. The health of our staff will be monitored closely and any who are experiencing symptoms or fever will be sent home. Additionally, staff members will be available to help during services.

REDUCED SEATING OCCUPANCY

In order to comply with the best practices of the CDC & Annual Conference, pews have been rearranged in order to reduce available seating. Every other pew has been pushed back against the next pew so that every third pew is available. We are also that we sit in the household units that you arrived with. Each household should sit either at the center or outer edge of the pew with a maximum of 5 per pew unless they are all from the same household. There should be six feet between households on each pew. Single people should not sit next others but sit by themselves at one end of the pew as they are considered a household.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE

Please help us by noting the following hygiene and social distancing protocols:

  1. The main sanctuary doors (for Sunday & Thursday) and the porte-cochere doors (for Saturday) (all others will remain locked) will be left open before and after services with no greeters to minimize unnecessary contact with hard surfaces and also to ensure 6-foot distancing is maintained for Sunday & Thursday services and the porte-cochere
  2. Sanitation stations for hand cleansing will be provided at locations throughout the church worship area. Everyone entering the sanctuary needs to sanitize their hands upon entering.
  3. Masks are strongly recommended; the church has a limited supply of masks for those who do not already have one. We know this is an uncomfortable thing to ask, and that many do not feel the need to wear masks. We are asking that you do so, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of those who are eager to re-engage but fearful of doing so!
  4. Maintain a minimum of 6 feet between yourself and anyone who does not live with you.
  5. If you or anyone in your household have been exposed to the Covid-19 or experienced any symptoms related to Covid-19 including: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or at least two of the following symptoms: chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell that you continue to worship online.
  6. If you experience any symptoms related to Covid-19, including a cough more than clearing your throat please leave immediately and seek medical advice.
  7. Please try to arrive a few minutes early in order to prevent ‘bottlenecking’ at our main door as we will be taking everyone’s temperature on the way in.
  8. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer doughnuts or drinks this week.
  9. Until further notice, we will not have childcare available at any level during worship.
  10. According to all the guidelines that we have seen, we are asking that the congregation hum, tap, clap, snap and/or bring non-breath instruments (wood blocks, triangles, chimes, stringed instruments, hand clappers etc, and not horns, woodwinds, recorders or kazoos). According to several sources, singing has been the one source that has caused the most Covid-19 outbreaks in churches across the nation.  
  11. If you need to use the restroom during the worship service, please go by yourself. There will be Clorox wipes in the restrooms. Please use them to wipe down any surface that you come in contact with to protect anyone that follows you. Please put them in the trash can and do not flush them as they will clog the plumbing. Wash you hands for 20 seconds after using the facilities before returning to worship. BTW, saying the Lord’s prayer while you wash will take 20 seconds. 

AS YOU DEPART
Please note the following:

  1. We will be dismissing by sections from the back of the sanctuary first.
  2. As you are dismissed, please do not linger in the building. If, however, you would like to safely fellowship in the parking lot, you are welcome to do so.
  3. The offering baskets will not be passed, however we will have a stationary offering box/basket into which people may place their offering while exiting the sanctuary.

We know this is a lot of information to process, but we are deeply committed to a safe return to live worship for those who wish to do so. We will be sending out further communication later this week that will include greater detail and direction. It is also important for you to know that we will continue to monitor the data regarding the spread of Covid-19 in our community. If the situation becomes unsafe, we will not hesitate to return to online worship.

I want to invite you to continue praying for your church community as we come back online. Our heart’s desire is to serve our community and honor God while maintaining a safe environment. For those of you who are unable to attend and would like to connect with our pastoral team, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and let us know how we can walk with you. Whether you come on June 7, 11 or 13 or not, know that we are praying for you and looking forward to the day we can all be together again.

Rev. David McGlocklin