Re-Entry Plan – July 2021

We are underway for our preparations for expanding our worship and ministries to include in-person gatherings! Here are the things we want to make sure you know (updated July 1):


Priorities

  • SAFETY
  • Worship & Programs that are offered to everyone without exception
  • Equal treatment regardless of vaccination status 
  • Restoring opportunities for in-person ministries 
  • Maintaining opportunities and access to ministries remotely 
  • Simplicity and authenticity– we can only be us! 


Important dates: 

July 1 – Ministries and programs are invited to return to gathering in person (please see precautions below). 

July 4 – Our first fully in-person ministry! Worship this day will be a simple Zoom prayer time at 9:30 a.m. and live music from the sanctuary, streaming on Facebook and audible outside, to coincide with the Town’s July 4 celebrations. We will be selling strawberry shortcake and also offering opportunities for community members to share with us what the church could do for them. 

July 11 – First worship service that is simultaneously in person, on Zoom, and on Facebook, with outdoor refreshments! We will also celebrate communion on July 11 (and thereafter on the first Sunday of the month) with pre-packaged communion elements.



Worship Services: 

Beginning July 11, worship services will be at 10 a.m. in person in the sanctuary, and simultaneously on Zoom and Facebook Live, and will be broadcast on GMTV Mondays at noon. 

It’s important that our congregation be able to worship together, and so some things will be different so that we can be gathered simultaneously in person and virtually over Zoom and Facebook.

No reservations will be necessary, and no one is asked to disclose their vaccination status. For those in person, masks will be optional if you are fully vaccinated; if not, we ask that you wear a mask. You’re also encouraged to bring a mask, because everyone will be asked to wear a mask while singing to avoid the risk of spreading aerosols. Please remember that people wear masks for many reasons, including their own health and safety, or as an act of solidarity or hospitality toward others; please make no assumptions about why a person might be wearing a mask or not.

You’ll notice more cameras and a TV screen in the sanctuary; this is so that we can interact with the people who are worshiping online. If you do not wish to be seen on camera, or to be looking at a screen, you’re invited to sit in the screen-free section on the east side of the sanctuary. You’ll also see that in two sections the front pews are closed. Other than these pews, you may sit where you like, leaving a reasonable distance between your household and those around you.  After the service, light refreshments will be available outside under the tent. 


Precautions: 

Yes, we know that the state is lifting restrictions more quickly and more comprehensively. However, UCCM will continue to exercise a high level of precaution. This is because our congregation definitionally includes vaccinated and unvaccinated people of all ages and people who are immuno-compromised or otherwise vulnerable, and our ministries include larger gatherings of people, inside, and for prolonged periods of time. Our indoor spaces, while large, are not designed for maximum air exchange. 

  • Groups are still encouraged to meet outside when possible. We will establish some space outside where people can gather. 
  • If you are vaccinated, masks are optional. If you are not vaccinated, we ask that you wear a mask inside the building. 
  • Because we recognize that not all members of our community are vaccinated, we are asking folks to use their good judgement for the safety and comfort of themselves and others. Please maintain a reasonable distance between your household and others.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided at the entrances. 
  • Church worship, programs, and meetings are encouraged to be “hybrid” whenever possible, that is, offered in person and over zoom, so that people can participate remotely. 

Update from the Re-Entry Team

Dear UCCM siblings in Christ, 

The UCCM Re-Entry team is committed to keeping you informed about our discussions and decisions regarding ministry in the age of COVID. Our first and biggest priority remains the health and safety of every member of our community. At the same time, we know that spiritual well-being is a vital part of our overall wellness as people and as people of faith. The Re-Entry team takes seriously the responsibility to meet people’s spiritual needs, while also considering safety concerns such as cleaning, ventilation, time for aerosols to settle, physical distance, contact tracing, masks, handwashing, and so on. 

The Re-Entry team therefore shares these updates to our current policies: 

Worship – Worship at UCCM will continue to be offered virtually, with access available online through Facebook and Zoom, over conference call or speakerphone with a friend, and through written summary (currently available in the newspaper). Gatherings of any size or configuration in the sanctuary for worship remain suspended at this time, because we cannot meet all the safety criteria. We will continue to increase the ways in which worship is accessible, so that no one is excluded from the worship life of UCCM. 

Spiritual Care – Relatedly, we know that not being able to worship in person or at the church is a painful loss, and means that for many it feels like spiritual care and connection to God are diminished. We also know that people’s needs and access vary, and we need to hear from each person in the UCCM family how we could best nurture your spiritual life. The Spiritual Life team is looking for volunteers to help contact each member of our congregation. If you enjoy chatting on the phone or you are passionate about making sure everyone is connected to church, would you please volunteer to help us contact folks?

Feeding Ministries – Our feeding ministries are some of our most beloved ways UCCM serves our community. We have already resumed a modified version of the community dinner, offering take-out onlyIn mid-August, our Breakfast on Us volunteers also hope to resume Breakfast on Us as a take-out only meal, with limited options, available for pick up outside the building. In both cases, UCCM will remain open to the volunteers and kitchen crew, but closed to visitors and diners. The Re-Entry team talked extensively about offering space, inside or outside the building, for guests to linger and eat together. We feel that we are not yet able to fulfill the safety requirements to do so. Unfortunately, therefore, we will not offer places to sit and eat together at this time.

Small groups and meetings – Out of an abundance of caution, the Re-Entry team encourages small groups and church teams/committees to meet by zoom or outside as weather allows. However, groups of 10 or fewer people may meet within the church building, provided they abide by safety guidelines including: wear masks, wash hands upon entering and leaving the building, maintain a minimum of 6 feet distance, sanitize the space (the dining room is recommended for ease) before and after use, and are on the calendar/given permission so that the church staff and janitor know precisely which spaces need to be cleaned, and contact tracing is possible.  

The Re-Entry team knows that such a slow, phased plan for re-launching our full ministries is frustrating and painful. I am reminded of something posted in a church where a friend of mine pastors: We keep apart right now, so that when we gather together again, none of us are missing. Friends, this is our ultimate commitment. 

God is still calling us to serve one another and our community, and will equip us to do so. We will continue to be creative, courageous, and careful as we answer this call. 

Blessings and strength, partners in ministry, 

Pastor Becca

On behalf of the Re-Entry team: Becca G, Heidi K, Claudia N, Carol O, Dot R, Duane S, Jane S, Judy S, Mary Ann W

Letter from Re-Launch Team

June 4, 2020                                                                                                               

 Dear members and friends of the United Community Church of Morrisville,

 Grace and peace to you all!

 The UCCM Re-Entry Team met this week to carefully and prayerfully consider the possibility of holding in-person worship and ministries indoors in the Worship Center. We shared these facts and recommendations from the UCC and UMC (links to these resources are in another post):

 *  Meeting inside is still dangerous, especially for our older members and friends.

*  When spaced out at 6-foot intervals, the UCCM sanctuary only holds 29 individuals at one time. Anyone who arrives for worship who exceeds this number in the building would be turned away.

*  In-person worship would be significantly different than what we’re used to:

            – Everyone would need to wear masks, including children.

            – Everyone (except family) would need to stay 6 feet apart at all times.

            – Everyone would need to enter/exit the building at 6-foot intervals.

            – No singing (singing projects droplets that can carry the virus).

            – No Bibles/hymnals in the pews; no passing of collection plates, communion, etc.

            – No coffee hour or visiting before or after worship.

            – All persons in attendance would need to be recorded for contact tracing if needed.

 These requirements also apply to ministries such as Breakfast on Us, etc.

 We balanced our priority of keeping people safe, what it means to gather in Christian fellowship, and our witness to the larger community.  Given all these considerations, we have come to this conclusion:

We will re-assess in mid-July, when more information should be available about how to proceed safely.  This timing will also allow our new pastor, Rev. Becca Girrell, to join the Re-Entry Team and be part of the decision-making going forward.

 We realize that this is a disappointing decision.  We also want to join together for Sunday morning worship, and to resume Breakfast on Us!  But until it is possible to do so safely, we believe this to be the most faithful action at this time.

 In the meantime, we will continue live-streamed worship and other ways to connect digitally.

 Please, if you are not able to participate in the live-stream and/or are not receiving our digital communications, call the church office at (802) 888-2225 and let Claudia know!  We do not want to overlook the spiritual needs of anyone at UCCM.  We’ll work with you to find a way to connect.

 In prayer and in faith that God will continue to guide us forward,

The UCCM Re-Entry Team:  Rev. Barb Lemmel/Rev. Becca Girrell, Claudia N, Carol O, Dot R, Duane S, Jane S, Judy S, Heidi W-K, Mary Ann W.