Phase One Reopening Protocols for First Presbyterian Church

 
For at least the next year, we anticipate our lives will be shaped by the timeline set by COVID-19. We face difficult choices between conflicting needs, wants, and imperatives. We anticipate that we will be continuously evaluating what worship and all other church functions look like. 
 

Despite our best efforts to provide a safe worship experience, conditions may again require the closing of the building.  The pastor, in consultation with church leaders, will use CDC, Harris County, and P.C.U.S.A. guidelines and good judgment to determine how to promote safety in reopening F.P.C.P. while actively monitoring local transmission rates of COVID-19. To preserve the health of our members, if circumstances change and worshiping together is not wise, services will again be virtual only. 


We recognize that some of our members have underlying health issues or risk factors. Their health and safety must be at the forefront of our considerations. Persons with a high morbidity risk from COVID-19 are urged to stay home and continue to worship virtually. We will nonetheless strive to promote safe, in-person worship experiences for all that do not discriminate against persons with disabilities or high-risk conditions. 
 

Church Physical Set Up: 

  • Offering plates will be placed by the baptismal font. 
    • Pews will be marked so people space themselves safely and avoid contact.
    • Hymnals, Bibles, friendship folders, offering envelopes, Kleenex, etc. will be removed from pews.
  • Signs will be posted that only one person at a time is to be in the restroom and additional signs will be posted to wipe handles touched with sanitizing wipes. 
  • The Church kitchen will remain closed.
  • Signs encouraging hand washing and mandating face mask use (covering nose and mouth) will be posted in the Narthex.
  • Signs encouraging social distancing will be posted in the narthex as well as the sanctuary.
  • Sanitizing wipes will be available as needed.
  • Gloves will be available in the Narthex and at the back of the church.
  • One microphone per speaker will be set up.
  • Camera will be set up to provide option of live streaming the service

 

Worship Procedures

    • Everyone in the building and on the church grounds must wear a cloth or medical mask. Members are strongly encouraged to bring their own. We may have some available, while supplies last. Individuals uncomfortable wearing a face mask or with a medical condition that makes wearing a mask problematic may continue to participate in our on-line services. 
    • Social distancing of a minimum of six feet must be observed at all times, with the exception of members who live in the same household.
    • Non-contact infrared thermometers will be used to take temperatures upon entry. Anyone with a temperature of 100.2 and higher will not be allowed into the building.
    • Names of worshipers will be recorded as they enter to keep track of who has been part of the worship experience in the event that they need to be contacted. 
  • Greeters will be asked to stand back a minimum of six feet and welcome folks verbally.
  • Bulletins and announcements will continue to be available online for the live streamed service.   
  • Bulletins will not be distributed to participate in the service in the sanctuary. Information will be projected on the screens at the front of the sanctuary. 
  • We will present shortened services to minimize risk.
  • Live streaming on YouTube or recorded services will continue for those who are not comfortable returning to ‘in-person’ worship
  • Soloist may sing from behind a three-sided plexiglass shield 
  • There will be no congregational or choral singing.  It has been determined that singing is among the riskier behaviors for spreading droplets/aerosols which can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air.
  • Worshipers will leave by row, as directed

 

Other Changes to Normal Practices

  • Online (ZOOM) continues for Brown Bag, Session and ministry meetings, PW, Book Group, Wonderful Wednesday, etc.
  • Office open by appointment.  As on Sundays, masks required for staff and visitors.
  • Forego November celebration of communion
  • Use of building by outside groups remains suspended 
  • Congregants who are sick or who have had close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 are to stay home. 
  • Local health officials will be contacted if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the church and this information also will be communicated with members so they are aware of potential exposure. The Clerk of Session, with the assistance of the church office, will be responsible to make the communications. 

 

Discontinue:

  • Children’s Sermon
  • Passing the Peace, hugs, handshakes, elbow bumps, etc.
  • Physical use of Bibles and Hymnals
  • Nursery
  • Coffee
  • Use of water fountains