We are excited to be able to finally welcome one another back to the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church campus for worship on October 11. While we are pleased to return, we also must remind ourselves the pandemic has not yet passed and we must continue to be vigilant in the measures we take to provide for one another’s safety. Failure to do so could result in not only the spread of COVID-19 among the members of CHUMC but also the community as has been documented in cases of churches who have returned to their campus too soon and/or did not follow the recommended protocols upon their return. The Reopening Team, appointed by the Church Council of CHUMC, committed to studying much of the research concerning the Coronavirus as well the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services and developed the following procedures with an eye toward loving our neighbors by providing for worship in a safe manner. In addition to reopening CHUMC, the German International School of Dallas is back in session. We have relocated the furniture and supplies for the Ancient of Days room and the nursery temporarily to the North Wing of the campus so GISD will be entirely sequestered in the South Wing of the campus. Also, as we seek to continue to be available for our community, we will continue to host the distribution of food and other supplies for Project Transformation once a month throughout the Fall semester. Please note that, until we determine it is safe to open the building further, we will be opening on Sundays starting October 11 for worship. The office staff will return the following week but will be available by appointment only in order to control the flow of people into and out of the building during the week. No other gatherings or activities will be permitted in the building until further notice is given. The procedures for reopening for the purposes of in-person worship are as follows:
Entry into and exit out of the church
a. Participants and attendees will enter from the parking lot through the South entry under the blue awning only. All other doors will be locked.
b. Face masks will be required for all participants and attendees over the age of two entering the CHUMC campus. Your mask must cover your mouth and nose at all times. Disposable face masks and a limited supply of cloth face masks will be available at the door.
c. An usher will meet each household or individual at the door to be sure you have a face mask and take your temperature with a contactless thermometer.
d. Inasmuch as it will take time to process each person’s entry into the building, we ask that everyone maintain an orderly line with the recommended social distancing observed.
e. Once the entrant is wearing a mask and their temperature is checked. They will be sent down the main hallway to the sanctuary. An usher will be available to assist you in finding a seat if needed.
f. Available rows will be marked so as to provide social distancing while in worship. Small household groups will be seated on each end of every other row in the sanctuary. If you have someone who is not of the same household who you normally ride to church with, you may be seated as a household.
g.Should you arrive early enough, you will be able to choose which end of which row you will occupy. Otherwise, an usher will assign you a seat. The number of occupants on each available row will be limited so as to provide for social distancing.
h. Two or three people may be seated at the end of every available row. If a group of four or more is seated on one end, the other end of that row shall remain vacant.
i. Hand sanitizer will be available at the entry and exit as well in each restroom.
j. Receptacles for disposal of used facemasks and hand sanitizers will be placed at the exit.
k. Everyone will exit worship through the Fellowship Hall. Dismissal will occur one pew at a time, as directed by the ushers, through the double doors on the south end of the Fellowship Hall as directed by the ushers.
a. While the choir director and others will lead in worship, we will not be singing congregationally, due to the risks shown by current research of group singing in an enclosed space. When measures are in place that provide for singing safely, we will once again sing together in worship.
b. Likewise, the Chancel Choir will not be singing together until it is deemed safe.
c. The children will remain in their seats during children’s time.
d. For the time being, congregants will not be invited to kneel at the altar during the community prayer.
e. The offering will be received by congregants placing their offerings in a box at the back of the sanctuary when they arrive or at the Fellowship Hall exit as they depart rather than passing plates.
f. Holy Communion will be received on the designated Sundays using prepackaged elements that will be distributed as congregants arrive. We will still share in the Invitation to the Table, Confession, and the Great Thanksgiving. Congregants will then partake of the elements while remaining in their assigned seats. Each person will dispose of their empty packets which contained the prepackaged elements in the receptacle at the exit where disposable masks are disposed.
a. We ask that congregants do not gather inside the building. Once you are escorted to your seat, you will be expected to remain in your assigned seat until your row is dismissed following worship, unless you need to go to the restroom. If you wish to visit with one another, please do so after exiting the building and while remaining socially distanced.
b. The donut station, coffee station, water fountain, ice maker, and kitchen will remain closed.
c. Chilled, bottled water will be on hand in case it is urgently needed.
d. The Fellowship Hall will remain closed with the exception of providing a socially distanced exit from worship and in the event overflow seating is needed for worship.
e. All other areas of the building will remain closed at this time.
f. The restrooms at the end of the main hallway will be closed. If you need a restroom, please use the restrooms in the Fellowship Hall.
g. We ask that anyone over the age of 65 and/or has a pre-existing condition that places them in a high-risk category, carefully consider if they should return to worship at this time. We are continuing to upgrade our equipment and skill for live streaming so we may make the live stream more enjoyable. We apologize for the technical difficulties we have had as we continue to adjust.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we return to worship. Please note that the failure to comply with these procedures or the spread of COVID-19 among our congregants could lead to CHUMC having to close down once again or to those individuals who choose not to comply being asked to join us online for worship. We understand the current pandemic has created significant disruption to every facet of our lives and we share in your desire to return to normal as we worship. While that is not possible at this time, we are thankful we are able to worship together once again as we take the initial steps back toward normal.
May God be with you until we meet again,
The Re-Opening Team