What reopening our church is like
June 7 of this year, we opened after shutting our doors for ten weeks! The 2020 Coronavirus closed the church doors longer than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime! Looking forward, the experts say the virus might shut us down again. The thought of shutting our doors again saddens me, so I’ll focus today on the experience of reopening.
We decided to reopen the church at the end of May. We decided to open both because the state restrictions decreased, and the Covid-19 case level had leveled off.
Preparing to open
In preparation to reopen, we went through and did the necessary cleaning of the whole church. We operated under the assumption that the church sat mostly empty over the past ten weeks, not collecting COVID bacteria. We also used signs and painters’ tape to block off pews and remind people to social distance.
We changed our schedule as well. We operated under the understanding that spreading a virus has to do with proximity and duration. We worked to help people maintain 6-foot distancing. We also shortened the service from about 1:15 to about 50 minutes.
We also reduced opportunities to spread germs. We did not pass out or have a bulletin available. We eliminated in-person coffee and donut time. We decided not to restart our children’s ministries of the nursery or children’s church.
The experience of meeting in person
First of all, masks change everything! We opened our doors on June 7 for our first service. Everyone who joined us wore masks. I love looking out and seeing a sea of colorful masks. I don’t like how muffled everyone sounds in a mask. Singing in a mask stinks because it stifles you. Also, masks make catching up difficult because you can’t read expressions.
Secondly, social distancing moves people to new places in the church. Most of our members have general areas where they sit. Social distancing has moved everyone around the church to new spots. The beautiful thing is the church looks pretty full with social distancing. Everyone spread out makes it look like a packed church!
Thirdly, we missed the younger children. Two families with older children have attended the past two weeks. The two families with younger children have not attended. I know, not offering services for children has put these parents in a bind. I want to serve these families.
We plan to continue wearing masks and social distancing for the indefinite future. These measures are practical and easy to implement. We need to figure out how to connect with and encourage our children at CBC. We need to keep leaning into caring for our families in creative ways.