Mid Pandemic Checklist

Mid Pandemic Checklist

A Mid Pandemic Checklist

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not
to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Even in the midst of this time, it is important to think ahead.

We are more than 2 months into the Stay Safe and Stay Home guidance of the CDC and our local and national health care professionals.  And we’ve been engaging in worship, and faith formation and spiritual care and community connections through a variety of online and physically distanced means – seeking to remain spiritually and faithfully close. 

There will come a time when we will open our buildings to gather together again in the post pandemic new territory.  There are many people and organizations asking these questions and offering resources. Your Conference seeks to share best practices and provide as many resources as possible as you and your congregation begin to consider what is next.

We have done our best to organize the following questions and considerations into categories so that, step by step, we can consider the transition forward for each aspect of church. We will continue to link resources to the questions as they are created.

If you have a resource that you have found helpful in addressing any of these, or other questions, PLEASE share with them with us. Contact Kelly Gallagher (gallagherk@sneucc.org), Tamara Moreland (morelandt@sneucc.org), or Kate Ostertag (ostertagk@sneucc.org).


Spiritual Practice and Resources for Now and Moving Forward

  1. FAITH - How can prayer and a life of faith speak to this current situation?  How can our relationship to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit support us in this time of trouble?  How is faith informing our decisions moving forward?
    Our Faith Awakening page  
  2. GRIEF - Grief is an ongoing experience, and your congregation will be in various stages of grief for a significant period of time - even as lock-down ends.  How can the pastor and leadership of the church support individuals and the corporate body as it processes its grief around death of loved ones, the trauma of the experience of COVID-19, and the loss of how things used to be? 
    Grief and Covid-19: Mourning Our Bygone Lives
  3. CARE AND COMPASSION - Even as we are socially distanced we remain spiritually together, and our members and communities are in need of care and compassion.  How have you been able to pastor to your congregation and community from afar, and what plans do you have as we move into the future?  
    10 guidelines for Pastoral Care During the Coronavirus Outbreak
  4. FUNERALS AND MEMORIAL SERVICES - Have you considered how the church will handle the backlog of funerals and memorial services when we can regather?  How will the church honor those who have died - and support those who have lost loved ones?
    Prayers and Liturgies around Grief
    Following a Disaster: Resources for Pastors


Now More Important Than Ever

  1. LEADERSHIP -  This pandemic creates the uncertainty of liminal time, that time of disruption in between what was and what will be.  Resources, both new and established, are needed for leading through this pandemic time into that unknown future. 

    Finding Our New Normal, by Susan Beaumont
    The Leaders Box: A Leadership Development Resource for Local Churches, UCC National Setting

  2. SAFE CHURCH - Now is a time to revisit your safe church and preparedness policies to ensure they are suitable for such a time as this. The following questions are some important ones to be considering in this time.

  3. ESSENTIAL INFORMATION - Is there essential information (passwords, account numbers, organization memory) that would be helpful to have accessible in the event that key leaders become ill? Are there mechanisms to access all the information leadership and your pastor have in the event they become ill and/or incapacitated?   
     
  4. MINISTERIAL COVERAGE - If the pastor becomes ill how will you cover worship services, administration and spiritual care?   Some of our churches are developing mutual backup plans with their neighboring churches in the event the pastor becomes ill or otherwise unavailable. Many of our neighboring pastors may be unable to assist as we usually anticipate.
     
  5. LOCAL GUIDANCE - Have you connected with your local Emergency Manager (check with the fire department) or Health Agent for their advice and guidance? Have you checked in with them to ask how you and your congregation can be helpful in this time?
     
  6. CHURCH MAINTENANCE - How are you maintaining your building in this time when it is not occupied? Is someone seeing to the pipes, the organ and other necessary building concerns?
    Buildings closed by Coronavirus face another risk: Legionnaires’ disease  
     
  7. MENTAL HEALTH - Stay Home and Stay Safe polices have had implications for increased incidence of addictions, mental health issues and domestic violence.  What strategies have you considered for your congregation and community. 
    Staying Safe During COVID-19, National Domestic Violence Hotline
    Health and Wholeness in the Midst of COVID-19, UCC national setting

Thinking Ahead

  1. INSURANCE - Have you consulted your insurance provider for the implications of returning to in person worship?
  2. VIRTUAL - What have you learned from virtual online worship and midweek gatherings that you want to carry into this next chapter?
  3. FLEXIBLE WORSHIP - Have you considered flexible worship options for the possibility of future limited sized gatherings? 
  4. SANITIZE AND CLEAN - What are you doing now to sanitize and sterilize your church building? What changes will need to be made to your cleaning and sanitizing plan to accommodate safe gathering?
  5. OUTREACH - How will pandemic precautions continue to impact your outreach programs, community meals, food pantry etc?
  6. PHASES - Have you considered phasing into ministry? This would be a blend on online meetings, programs and worship along with in-person phased in over time.
    Also helpful is:  Four Phases For an Orderly Return to Church.
    For an excellent resource on this see: Returning to Church, from the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Thinking Ahead... In More Detail

 

Staffing/Administrative/Volunteers

  1.  Are there changes in staff or volunteer job descriptions you need to consider? Do door greeters do their jobs differently, or at all?
  2.  What is your plan when volunteers wish to temporarily step down out of health concerns?  Some of your volunteers may not want to be back in public yet, including faith formation teachers and deacons?
  3.  Because people may return very slowly to church, how will you count attendance and effectiveness? 
  4.  Is there need to consider a staff or volunteer who is technologically skilled?
  5.  What if your pastor gets ill or remains ill as the church re-opens?

Financial Considerations and Building

  1. Should you be investing in new digital equipment right now? Have you considered the potential costs of worship and social distancing including digital equipment to eliminate paper, sanitation equipment and supplies?
  2. Are there precautions or policies you need to put in place for building renters and outside groups?
  3. How has this pandemic impacted your budget thus far and how will you calculate your budget projections?
  4. Are you prepared to supply your membership with masks and other necessary things to attend worship responsibly? Wipes, sanitizer, masks, etc.
  5. What’s your strategy to clean and sanitize your church in real time while people gather for worship or events or programs?

Practical Preparedness

  1. Are you prepared to supply your membership with masks and other necessary things to attend worship responsibly? ** It is important to consider that these items have been and will most likely remain difficult to  purchase - wipes, sanitizer, masks, etc. 
  2. What’s your strategy to clean and sanitize your church in real time while people gather for worship or events or programs?

Important Communication 

  1. How will you communicate your plans for safe worship and onsite practices?
  2. How will changes to your safety plans be communicated?
  3. With privacy and pastoral care needs in mind, how will you communicate if someone in your congregation is ill with Covid-19?
  4. How will you communicate if there may have been Covid-19 exposure during a service or church activity?

Worship

  1. What if your worship gathering is initially limited to no more than 50 people?   What if it is still encouraging 6-10 physical distancing space?
  2. What adjustments will you make to the Lord’s Supper, Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, other rituals and your choir ministry?
  3. How will you ‘pass the plate’ for the offering? How will you accommodate ‘Passing the Peace”?
  4. Are there any adjustments you need to make to coffee hour?
  5. Do door greeters do their jobs differently, or at all?
  6. Will you check the health of those attending worship or using the building in any way? Taking temperatures, asking health related questions?
  7. What if the elderly are encouraged to continue social distancing longer than the rest of the population.

Faith Formation/Christian Ed/Ministry Programs

  1. How have you/are you/will you work with children and youth to understand and deal with this current reality through the eyes of faith? How are you explaining God in this time?
  2. Are you going to continue hosting special events and mid week programs? Can you continue some of these online as you have done through this time? Bible Study? Children’s activities?
  3. Are you going to continue offering church school and faith formation gatherings?   Public Schools are closed for the remainder of this school year, what plan do you have?
  4. How else might you offer faith formation for individuals and families?
  5. Are you canceling vacation bible school, or delaying them until later this summer?

Building Maintenance

Closing Question and Appeal for Resources

Are there questions you are asking that we haven’t thought about here? Are there resources that you have found useful in addressing these, or any other concerns? Please share them with us. Contact Kelly Gallagher (gallagherk@sneucc.org), Tamara Moreland (morelandt@sneucc.org), or Kate Ostertag (ostertagk@sneucc.org).

Other Resources

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