Centenary is a vibrant part of our community and our congregants’ lives. The cornerstone of our church is worshipping Christ in a welcoming and safe environment. While we love seeing each other and praising His Name in person, times have changed and we need to adapt. To fulfill our mission, we have compiled this COVID-19 Reopening Plan.

COVID-19 Building Reopening Plan Committee

Bruce Clarke (Co-Chair Reopening Plan & Vice-Chair Trustees), Virginia Giordano (CUMC member & medical professional), Carlston Gray (Trustees), Ruth Lechelt (Chair, Church Council), Rev. Sooah Na (CUMC Pastor), Nancy Rapp (Chair, Staff Parish Relations), Rev. Anna Thomas (Immediate-past CUMC Pastor), Nicole Tierno (Sunday School Coordinator), Linda Serentino (Special Funds), Donavon Soumas (Director, Music Ministry), Scott Woodfield (Co-Chair Reopening Plan & Chair, Trustees), Sylvia Woodfield (Church Council), and John Wooding (Church Council).

Our Goal

Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as together we flatten COVID-19 and ensure zero infections are spread by United Methodist activity. With this plan we will hope to facilitate an environment in which people are safe and comfortable worshipping together so that we can have a greater connection with both God and each other.

For everyone’s safety, we will have some changes to our normal traffic flow when we reopen for in-person worship. Please know that we look forward to returning to normal, but we will take a slow, cautious approach to get to that normal.

Below is our plan for reopening our church, including specific guidelines/restrictions through Labor Day, recognizing that this plan may need to be modified if public health officials issue further restrictions.

Basic Standards:

  • Masks must be put on before entering the church and worn at all times when in hallways/common areas.  You are encouraged to bring your own mask, but disposable masks will be provided if needed.
  • Masks must cover your nose and mouth. Gloves are encouraged but not required.
  • Masks do not have to be worn in personal offices or other rooms in the church when only one person is present.
  • Individuals should not come to church if they have a fever (100.4 or higher), are exhibiting any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, etc.), or  have tested positive or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If any of these conditions apply, for your safety and the safety of our church community, please stay at home and utilize the online worshipping option.
  • Maintain at least 6-feet of social distance at all times when on church property. Signs will be posted throughout the building reminding people to wear a mask and maintain at least 6-feet of social distance at all times when on church property.
  • For everyone’s protection and safety, individuals not wearing a mask when indoors and/or not properly social distancing when on church property will be asked to do so or participate in worship remotely. 

Specific Guidelines/Restrictions

1. Parking

  No changes.  Parking will be allowed in designated parking spaces in the front and back of the church and along Hillside Avenue. Please be mindful of the social distancing requirement when exiting your car and preparing to enter the church. Be sure to maintain at least a 6-foot distance between you and your neighbor at all times.

2.  Entrance/Egress 

  • The double doors leading to the Narthex will be designated for “entrance only;” whereas the double doors leading to the Church office in the front of the church will be designated for ‘exit only” to reduce congestion and close contact of people visiting the church.  Doors will be signed as “entrance only” and “exit only” and will remain open at all times before, during, and immediately after the Worship Service to minimize contact with surfaces.
  • Ushers will be present to welcome and open and close the doors for you. They will remind everyone to wear a mask and to enter the Sanctuary via the center aisle and exit via the side aisles at the end of the service.
  • The temperature of those attending worship service will be taken with a no-contact thermometer upon entry. If you have a fever (100.4 or higher) or are exhibiting any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus or another illness (runny nose, coughing, shortness of breath, etc.), please stay at home and utilize the online worshipping option for your safety and the safety of our church community.

3. Restrooms

  No more than one individual will be present in a bathroom at one time (with the exception of parent with young child).

  We strongly urge you to use the bathroom at home prior to coming to church to help minimize your exposure.

4. Social Distancing

– Signs will be posted throughout the building reminding people to wear a mask and maintain at least 6-feet of social distance at all times when on church property.

  Please follow the directions of the ushers and other worship leaders where appropriate to maintain safe distancing from fellow parishioners.

5. Sunday Church Service

Prior to Sunday, August 16:

Live-streaming Worship Service starting at 10 am with limited worship participants.

August 16, 23, and 30: Worship Service – Outdoors

   Location/Time: Front lawn starting at 9 am. Outdoor service weather dependent (12 hr. minimum notice will be provided for cancelation of outdoor service). Streaming of online service will continue to be available on Facebook at 10 am.

   Parking: Cars will park in designated parking spaces in the front of the church and along Hillside Avenue.

   Seating:

  • Attendees will be responsible to bring their own chairs
  • Chairs should be positioned on designated spaces marked on the lawn or in front of cars and spaced at least 6-feet apart to ensure social distancing.
  • Attendees may also remain in their cars, if desired.
  • Families will be allowed to sit together but must maintain a minimum spacing of 6-feet from nearest neighbor.
  • All attendees must wear masks (face coverings).

   Pastor, Director of Music Ministry and Worship Assistants (readers) will be positioned in the center of the front lawn at least 6-feet apart.

   Electrical outlets from the narthex will be used, with extension cords, for microphones, musical instruments and recorded music.

   Stationary offering baskets will be set up at designated areas on the lawn.

   Bathrooms will be available inside the church and may be used by attendees provided they follow the procedures outlined earlier in this document.

  At the conclusion of the service, attendees will leave the parking area in orderly fashion following guidance from the ushers.

Potential start of Indoor Worship Services to be established

  Location/Time TBD: Church Sanctuary with simultaneous live-streaming starting at 10 am

   Actual start date and continuation of indoor Worship Service will depend on the status of COVID-19 epidemic and may change to outdoor or remote status as necessary to ensure everyone’s health and safety.

– If you are in an at-risk category, as outlined by the CDC, we strongly encourage you to stay home and attend our live-stream broadcast. This is not a requirement but a caring suggestion.

– Capacity for in-person Sunday Service:

  1. Sanctuary = 45 people (25% maximum of 180 congregants [15 rows of 12 seats]) and six Worship Leaders in the Chancel area (one pastor, one worship assistant, one pianist, one organist, one choir director, one drummer or other musician and two ushers). Since the Worship Leaders will be socially distant in the Chancel area, our Sanctuary can safely hold up to 45 congregants. Ushers will provide assistance.
  2. Room 20 = 10 (25% maximum of 40 congregants).  This could be used for an overflow for Worship Service if necessary, as it has a speaker from the Sanctuary.

6. Seating:

– Keep a distance of six feet in all directions.

– During in-person worship, we ask families to sit together and distance from other families/congregants. Seating in the Sanctuary will be arranged to ensure 6-feet social distancing].

7. Hallways and pedestrian flow

– Two-way traffic in the hallways; individuals should keep as far as possible to the right in hallways for social distancing.

  Water fountains are off-limits

8. Hygiene and hand sanitizers

  Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol will be available throughout the building, and we encourage you to wash and sanitize your hands frequently. [Discussion Point: who will maintain PPE supplies and refill containers?]

– All commonly touched surfaces in the building will be sanitized by the custodian before and after Worship Service with CDC approved disinfectants.

– Please do not shake hands, hug others, or make any other physical contact. We know it’s difficult to eliminate contact as we’ve all been feeling isolated during this time, but this is what we need to do to stay safe.

  People present in the church will be expected to:

  1. Frequently wash their hands (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds) after touching shared surfaces and when removing gloves.
  2. Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • We will minimize touch-points during worship services as follows:
  1. Offerings will be shared in stationary collection baskets located in the rear of the sanctuary. We will not be passing collection plates until further notice. We also continue to encourage people to give their offerings electronically, online or by check through the mail.
  • Ushers will identify those in attendance so that all worshippers may be contacted in the event that someone who attends the service later tests positive for COVID-19.  No sign-in sheets will be utilized.
  • There will be no hard copies of bulletin, but they will be available online or on the screen in the Sanctuary.
  • There will be no use of Hymnals, Bibles or The Faith We Sing song books until further notice.

9. Postponed activities – until further notice, the following will not be available due to health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  Communion

  • Fellowship hour after Worship Services.

  Choir or hymn singing. We encourage individuals to share their musical talents remotely with the congregation at this time. Masked singing, outside, at a comfortable distance can be considered (solo only). (Sept. 14, 2020)

– Nursery care

– Children and Youth Ministries and Adult Sunday School classes. Brief outdoor fellowship time for children will be provided occasionally. (Sept. 14, 2020)

– In person meetings; all meetings will be conducted remotely.

– Use of the building by all external groups with the exception of the Early Learning Center which has submitted Centenary with a State approved operations and safety plan.

10. Note to parents:

In an effort to keep our children safe and healthy, please review social distancing guidelines with your children and help them to maintain a safe distance from others. We realize this can be challenging for young ones and we appreciate your efforts to keep young children closely monitored to reduce any health risks.

11. Updates to this Building Reopening Plan:

– Please know that if Centenary, the surrounding area, or the State experiences a resurgence of COVID cases, this plan will be modified as needed for your protection and safety.

Prior to Opening

This plan will be communicated via e-mail and conventional mail to all members and posted on our Facebook page and website.

(Revised 9-14-2020)