To Members of the Congregational Church of East Hampton:
Good news, Church leadership has made the decision to resume in-person worship services starting on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021. Please keep reading this document for the guidelines and rules we will follow to keep us all safe and secure; the COVID-19 pandemic is still present in our nation. We must continue to take reasonable precautions to protect ourselves, our vulnerable loved ones, and our neighbors. We will also evaluate guidance from our UCC conference, our state, and the CDC and make adjustments to our procedures as necessary.
While the state has removed maximum occupancy restrictions for religious services, the requirement for 6’ social distancing is still in place. For the time being, we can only allow 50 in-person participants, including the minister, deacon, ushers, and other service leaders. Every other pew will be blocked, and we ask you to not sit in those pews. The balcony will also be used for seating. We ask that each person who attends service signs in on a roster in the Narthex so we can maintain a list of those who attend in-person in case a contact tracing exercise is required.
Facemasks will still be required for those attending church in person, as they are required by the state executive order. Since spring is here, we will also open the windows and doors to allow adequate ventilation.
Remember that the services will go on being live-streamed through Zoom, as we have been doing since last March 2020, for those who do not feel comfortable attending, or have underlying health conditions that require them to be judicious. You will still be able to participate even if we have reached the maximum number of in-person attendees. We will be trying some methods of using zoom to make the service more interactive for those who are streaming at home. We are nearing the home stretch of this pandemic, and overall the mood of our society is one of hope and optimism. At the same time, we remain committed to providing a safe environment for all of us to worship together. Please keep our church, our community, and our nation in your prayers as we face these challenging times together.
CHURCH SERVICES GUIDELINES
- If you are sick, please stay at home.
- If you have underlying health conditions that may leave you in a vulnerable state if you were to contract COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you do not attend church services in person.
- If you have a person in your household with a similar health condition that may be at risk if they were to be infected with COVID-19, you should not attend church services in person.
- Physical distancing of 6 feet between non-family/household groups will always be maintained by the attendees & church staff.
- No handshaking or engaging in other physical greetings. We encourage nodding, bowing, or waving instead of shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. Avoiding holding hands during the service and during prayers.
- Attendees must bring and wear a mask / face covering when not in their pew or seats, or when physical distancing is not possible. This recommendation does not apply to children under 2 years old or to those who may have difficulty breathing with a face covering. The church is unable to provide masks or face coverings.
- There will be no greeters, and attendees should not congregate in the church entrance. Bulletins will be available for self-pickup. Please take your bulletin with you and recycle at home.
- Please use the doors marked for entrance and exits as indicated (except for those who require the elevator, all entry will be through the main doors and exiting will be by the ramp door).
- There will be no formal offering to ‘pass the plate’. Instead, if you have a envelop or donation, please leave it in the offering plate on the altar after service when you are exiting.
- We will suspend the ‘passing of the peace’ and ‘closing circle’ at this time, as well as serving ‘monthly communion’.
- There will be no singing during service except by the cantor or other choir members who have appropriate PPE.
- There will be no after-service coffee hour.
- Please do not congregate in Fellowship Hall either before or after Church. The kitchen is closed, please do not enter.
- We will open the windows and doors as much as possible to provide ventilation during church service.
- We always encourage hand washing and using hand sanitizer before and after church, after using the restroom, and any other time that is appropriate.
- We will notify local health officials if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the church building, & communicate with staff and congregants about potential exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws.