Reopening phase for CCE

In light of our State meeting the gates to begin a phased reopening this week (beginning May 20, 2020), it is time for us to get started on getting back to in-person worship. We will only do so if we can in a safe and responsible way. Our tentative start date is June 7, 2020. Please note that summer hours will be in place from June through Labor Day (so worship service begins at 9:30 am).

We have a question for you to help us in planning.  To help you give an informed answer, here is some background:

Under today’s Connecticut rules (since March 23), places of worship are deemed “essential”, but are limited to gatherings of fewer than fifty people. As the State steps through phases of reopening, these rules may relax.  For now, we may resume worship meetings by following the essential workplace guidelines and limiting our attendance. The guidelines are clear and detailed and provide for the safety of those in attendance while also telling those who are particularly vulnerable to remain safely at home.

Therefore, our restart plan will be to meet on Sundays for worship while simultaneously providing online worship for those not able to attend. So – if you decide to stay at home, you will be able to watch the service online as we have been doing these past two months. It will be up to each of us to decide whether we best attend or stay at home. The only expectation I have of us is that we will all pray, ask the Lord for wisdom, that we will love and care for one another as we gently accept one another’s decisions in all this, and that we will together abide by the law.

Our choice of June 7 as a start date gives us time to plan, but also time to see if there is any public health response to the State’s phase one reopening on May 20. If public health officials give us any reason for concern, we will revert to the current online format.

If you choose to join the in-person worship, we have developed guidelines to meet both the State of Connecticut and CDC guidelines for essential workplaces and houses of worship.  Our plan has been reviewed and approved by the Town’s Emergency Management Director. This is what to expect when we first re-open (things are sure to change as time goes on):

1. If you have been diagnosed or exposed to Covid, or if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness you must stay home. If you have a chronic cough or sneeze due to a non-Covid condition, we invite you to join us for online worship until you are feeling better.

2. We will worship in the sanctuary. The spaces we use will be sanitized before every gathering, to include pew backs, stair railings, highly touched surfaces, and bathrooms. As much as possible, doors will be propped open to facilitate a no-touch experience. As much as possible, windows and doors will be opened to create an airflow through the room.

3. Upon entering the building, you will be asked to use hand sanitizer. Traffic flow will be controlled to allow us to maintain distances of six feet apart.

4. Family units will sit together, spacing themselves from other attendees. Pews will be cordoned off to help us all maintain appropriate spacing.

5. All attendees will be encouraged to wear a face covering while in the building. If you arrive without a face covering, one will be made available as you enter. Exceptions are made for individuals who have trouble breathing and children age 2 and under.

6. Initially we will not be operating Bible Explorers or a nursery. Children will need to remain with their parents during worship. We will restart these ministries after we get a better handle on operating procedures and can do so safely.

7. There will be no bulletins. Offerings will be received as you exit the room. When we celebrate communion, we will use prepackaged communion elements which will be pre-positioned in the pew racks before the service.

8. No food or beverages will be served. When the worship service ends, we will all exit the building without socializing until we are outside where we can all maintain safe distances.

9. We will resist the urge to shake hands or hug while greeting one another. It’s OK to exchange a big smile and wave as we greet one another.

10. If we exceed the 49 person limit, we are planning to offer overflow seating in fellowship hall to watch the online worship.

I want to thank all of you for your faithfulness in prayer during this time. I also want to thank you for reaching out to others, both in our group and outside of it during this time of separation. Your love and concern for each other are a constant reminder of how Jesus is at work within your heart.

In Him,
Pastor Mike