Central COVID-19 Plan for Worship Services

Central Congregational Church 

COVID-19 Plan for Re-Gathering in the Sanctuary for Worship (09/20)

Name:       Central Congregational Church – United Church of Christ (Place of Worship)
Address:  296 Angell Street, Providence RI 02906
Office phone:  401-331-1960
Office Manager:  Jennifer Fallon
email:   jenn@centralchurch.us
Contact:  The Reverend Rebecca L. Spencer, Senior Minister
Phone:  401-331-1960
email:    rlspencer@centralchurch.us

N.B.  Plan applies to religious services for worship

Face Masks and Coverings

  • Congregation members have been informed via individual correspondence and Church newsletter of the requirement to wear face masks at all services and meetings, unless an individual can easily, continuously and measurably maintain at least six (6) feet of distance from other worshippers/staff/visitors for the duration of the time in the building.
  • Ushers will wear both masks and face shields.  They will be trained in the signs and symptoms of infection, effective face coverings, and symptoms of COVID19 infection.
  • Masks will be provided to worshippers who appear for service without one or with a face covering deemed by an usher to be inadequate by public health guidelines (e.g. not large enough to cover the nose and mouth or a non-medical grade mask with a vent).

Social Distancing and Organizing Worshippers

  • Taped markings placed at six (6) foot intervals leading into the sanctuary from all doors.
  • Signs posted at entrances include information on social distancing.
  • In order to provide adequate air circulation, all exterior and interior doors will remain open.  Large fans will introduce outside air from one side of the sanctuary, with fans exhausting the air to the outside on the other side, creating cross-ventilation.
  • Seating in the sanctuary has been reduced to allow for six (6) foot spacing between individual worshippers or family/household groups in every other pew, staggered, reducing normal capacity from 705 to 243 (34%).
    • The following charts are attached : (1)   COVID-19 Capacity; (2)  Plan for Socially Distanced Seating  (3)  Sanctuary Floor Plan – Set-up at Entry
  • Containers of hand sanitizer will be provided at each entrance/exit and in each occupied pew, as well as in each rest room.
  • Once capacity is reached, worshippers will be directed to Chapel Hall, to which audio from the service will be piped.  Chairs will be set at six (6) foot distances up to a maximum of 75 (40% of capacity of 194).
  • Pews within twelve (12) feet in front of the Lectern and Pulpit have been blocked off.
  • Hymn Books and Bibles have been removed from all pews. Words to hymns will be printed in the Church bulletin, for silent contemplation while the organist plays.  There will not be a choir in the Church during services.
  • The service will include no congregational singing, humming or communal praying.  Worshippers will be reminded of this during the service.
  • Rather than collecting the offering pew by pew, ushers will stand beside collection plates placed beside each exit door, so worshippers can place their offerings in as they leave the church.  The Church also offers the option of on-line giving via tithe.ly.
  • At the end of service, ushers will dismiss the congregation pew by pew, in order to avoid clogged aisles.  The congregation will be invited to leave through the door to the West Lawn from the Wilson Chapel, as well as through the Angell Street doors and the handicapped-accessible exit through the coatroom (Diman Place door).
  • There will be no coffee hour after the service at this time.

Responding to a Positive Case or Outbreak

  • The printed church bulletin will include a tear-off section on which each worshipper/ household group will be required to provide their name(s) and contact information.  The torn-off section will be left in the pew for collection the following day.  The pew number will be noted on the slip at the time it is collected by the Church staff.
  • Contact information will be maintained in the Church office for at least sixty (60) days.
  • If notified of a positive case or outbreak among those attending worship, Church staff will contact RIDOH immediately at 401-222-8022 for contact tracing if appropriate and for further instruction.
  • The option to discontinue in-person worship services always remains, should the State’s infection rate or an outbreak within the congregation so merit.  Church leadership in collaboration with the Re-Gathering Task Force will make that decision if necessary

Minimizing Access by COVID-19-positive or Symptomatic Individuals

  • Access to sanctuary limited to Diman Place (Coatroom) and the three (3) Angell Street doors.
  • Signs posted at each entrance with information on symptoms of infection, the need not to enter if symptomatic or exposed to a known case of COVID19 within the last fourteen (14) days.
  • Ushers will greet worshippers and take temperatures with scanning thermometers, as well as ask screening questions.   Additional ushers will direct worshippers to socially distanced seating.
  • Symptomatic individuals, those with a temperature >99.5 or individuals with recent contact will be politely requested to leave.

Communication with Congregation

  • Church has the capacity to contact all members and registered friends via email and registered phone numbers, as well as by first class mail.
  • Signage prominently displayed throughout the Church regarding face coverings, symptoms of infection and the need to maintain social distancing; and in the rest rooms concerning hand washing and wiping down the sink and toilet handle after use.
  • Church Office Manager will maintain contact slips from each service/meeting for at least sixty (60) days following the service/event.

Cleaning and Decontamination

  • Prior to services/meetings, Church sexton will ensure that each pew has a hand sanitizer container and each restroom is equipped with hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectant wipes.
  • Church sexton will thoroughly clean the sanctuary, entries and rest rooms the day after each service or meeting, using disinfectant solution.

Staying Up-to-date on Industry-specific Guidance

  • Church leadership in conjunction with Task Force on Re-Gathering will continue to monitor the RIDOH website and Governor’s Executive Orders on a regular basis,as well as any material from the CDC and denominational offices.

This Plan was developed by a Re-Gathering Task Force consisting of:  The Reverend Rebecca Spencer, Bill Connors, Staci Fischer MD, Mary Marran, Charles Rardin MD, Sharon Rounds MD, and Head Usher Frances Munro, and has been approved by the Board of Deacons of Central Congregational Church.

Posted in COVID News, Updates.