We are planning to hold a service in the sanctuary on Sunday, October 4, 2020 for members of the Consistory, ushers/greeters, and audio/video volunteers. This will serve as a way to test our plans for reopening the sanctuary. Everyone else is encouraged to view the service live online -- details coming soon. The Zoom worship format will no longer be available. We expect a few glitches, so please be patient with us!
There will be a number of restrictions and requirements for those attending services in person. Some are required by New York State and all are designed to promote safety during the pandemic. If all goes well, services for everyone will resume on October 11.
The state requires houses of worship to fill no more than 33% of their capacity during services. Between this and the requirement for six-foot distancing between households, we expect that we can get 40 or so people in the sanctuary. Available seating spaces will be marked on the pews.
To ensure that we don't have to turn anyone away at the door, there will be a reservation system set up through the church office, starting with the October 11 service. We'll soon have more information about how this will work.
For the time being, the entrance to the church directly from the parking lot will not be open. Those attending the services may use the side door and the front door. Basically, only the sanctuary, the entrances, and the accessible bathroom will be available during services.
Face coverings will be required in the building. Although we have been able to remove our masks when meeting outdoors, there is more risk indoors. Our situation is compounded by the lack of air circulation in the sanctuary space. We don’t have a either a mechanical air handling system (HVAC) or a natural air handling system (windows in the sanctuary do not open). We will have a supply of masks in case someone forgets to bring one.
Whenever a person enters the sanctuary, they will be expected to wash their hands in the bathroom or use one of the hand sanitizer dispensers that will be placed at each door.
We will not be able to join in traditional congregational singing. State guidelines require a 12-foot distance between individuals who are singing without masks. That means if there is congregational singing, households would have to be 12 feet away from each other. This would greatly reduce the number of people that could attend services.
We will avoid close touching and sharing items as much as possible. No passing of the offering plates or communion elements. No hugs or handshakes. No sharing of hymnbooks or Bibles. Pew cushions will be removed to facilitate cleaning/disinfecting. You are welcome to bring your own Bible (and cushion) from home.
Coming soon ... how to attend the service online.