Trinty’s COVID-19 Response Team continued their discussion on Tuesday, June 30, at their scheduled meeting. One of our resources has been the article “Why Reopening a Church is Different.” Although it was written a few weeks ago, a key point remains the same: “Our reopening plans are not about what is best for the management of our church, but what is best for the common good and greater community. This is not a time to focus primarily on what we may be sacrificing by not gathering, but how we are serving and loving all our neighbors by not gathering too soon.”
Our Covid-19 Response Team made the decision to delay the earlier scheduled reopening that was set for July 19, and instead to tentatively schedule our worship to resume on August 9 when our public schools are opened. Our Team will meet again on July 14 and continue to assess the infection rate in our area to make sure our projected date of August 9 for “in-person worship” is in line with a decrease in COVID-19 cases in our area. We will keep you regularly posted on the plans and protocols in place to return to worship in-person.
I want to personally express my appreciation to our COVID-19 Response Team for their hard work and diligence in guiding our congregation through this challenging time.
Trinity’s 2020 COVID-19 Response Team:
- Neal Avirett
- Susan Koehler
- Lisa Prasse
I just received an updated guide from the Florida Conference on the rise of COVID-19 Cases in Florida.
All of our United Methodist Churches in Florida have been encouraged to make their decisions regarding worship in the midst of this ever-changing reality. We know there is stress and anxiety in having to rethink decisions as the pandemic continues.
Bishop Carter has reminded us that our guidance around returning to in-person worship could change as the number of cases begin to increase.
• Cases are rising exponentially in our state.
• We encourage you to look at all the data including: the number of new cases, the infection rate, the positive test rate, the hospitalization rates, and the ICU bed capacity. We have learned that it is not wise to base guidance solely on ICU bed space availability. As one of our health consultants said, “Sadly, by the time ICU beds reach capacity the outbreak will be uncontrollable.”
Based on this information we offer this updated guidance:
2) Virtual worship is the safest approach, and outdoor worship is encouraged over inside.
3) Churches should consider delaying plans to return to in-person worship. We know that some congregations have already pushed their return to in-person worship date back in response to the rise in cases, and others have met in-person and are now returning to virtual-only worship.
4) Wearing masks is essential when any group gathers together under a roof and is now mandated by the Leon County Commissioners with fines attached for non-compliance. The well-being of our elderly, children, and all ages in between are of utmost importance to us, so we ask everyone to wear a mask and do not consider masks to be optional.
The Florida Conference continues to honor the sense that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach for every church. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates in different counties and zip codes (click here for a county and zip code break down).
We have had increased positive cases among United Methodist clergy families, church staff, volunteers, preschool families, church members, throughout the state. Some of these are connected to individuals who made exceptions to the protocols. Others are connected to the increased spread of the virus around them.