Phase 1 Ministry Plan and Building Use

This plan has been approved by the Reopening committee of the New Life in Christ Church Session on May 21, 2020. 

In service to God, love for one another, and love for our neighbor we believe we should host in-person worship services. That does not mean every person should come. Please use your best judgment in deciding when to rejoin public worship. We are doing our best to provide a safe worship environment, but we cannot remove all risk. We believe everyone has to make this decision for themselves and we will give grace, understanding, and compassion to everyone in the decisions they are making. People at risk, per Center for Disease Control (CDC) standards, are strongly discouraged from attending in person at this point, until we enter into a future Phase of the plan to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While masks are optional, the CDC recommends, “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.” Please read this website for clarification and safety practices: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

We have placed in person worship as the highest priority, but have also sought to include all aspects of our covenant community. 

  1. WORSHIP – As of May 17, we began two services (8:30 and 10:30 am) under the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Phase 1 plan. We will re-evaluate this based on the Phase 2 guidance (yet to be published), or if the length of holding two services becomes untenable. Evening (6 pm) services will begin meeting in-person on June 7. Celebration of the Lord’s Supper will resume on the first Sunday of the month (i.e. June 7) using a strategy which will comply with applicable guidance.
  2. CHILDREN – While children are welcome to worship with their families, the Commonwealth’s recommendation is to “Consider limiting or suspending youth services until a safer time.” Therefore:
    • NURSERY: Nursery will remain closed for now and likely through Phase 1.
    • CHILDREN’s MINISTRY: As schools are out and we are in Phase 1, we will not have any in-person, in-building, children’s ministry. As the situation develops, we will look towards our Fall ministries to consider reopening in September, in view of what schools are doing, but not limiting ourselves to the same choices.
    • CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL: Evaluate as we move out of Phase 1. 
    • YOUTH GROUPS: Youth groups will continue to meet online through _______. On 6/14 they will meet virtually in time to allow people to go to Super Sunday. Youth Groups will not meet on 6/28 as there is a graduation service that day.
    • OUTSIDE GATHERINGS: Children’s ministries may meet outside during this time, provided they practice social distancing and the other provisions in this reopening plan.
  3. ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL – While we have two morning worship services, we will not have in-person Sunday school. If Sunday school is offered, it will be using video-recorded classes made available online.
  4. FOOD – To honor the guidance of the Commonwealth of Virginia, we will not have meals or receptions inside the church. Receptions or food may be distributed outside the church, as long as Virginia’s guidelines are honored. Virginia Requirements: “A) No items must be passed to or between attendees who are not family members as defined in EO 61, Order of Public Health Emergency Three. b) Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable and used only once and discarded.” If an outdoor food option be utilized, we suggest honoring this by having designated servers with proper safety measures in place (e.g. masks, gloves, social distancing) or pre-packaging food and having designated people to distribute.
  5. IN-PERSON MEETINGS FOR ADULTS (HOME OR CHURCH) – We request that all small groups continue to meet virtually for the time being, for two primary reasons: 1) Health and Safety; 2) Inclusion. There are still many people who are concerned about going out and we do not want to exclude them. It is also likely that people will be sick or quarantined because of exposure.
    1. If groups do desire to meet in person, especially during the state’s Phase 1, please be deferential to the people with the greatest concerns, or to the people who are quarantined because of sickness or exposure. Your group may be a lifeline of hope to them. 
    2. If groups decide to meet in person, please provide a way for those under the “safer-at-home” plan, or quarantine, to join in. In other words, if you can use Zoom to include others, please do.
    3. If groups do decide to meet in person, please continue to practice social distancing. We recommend using the large rooms like room 100 and 200 and the Fireside room, or meet outside. Most of the other classrooms are not big enough to provide adequate distancing.
    4. If and when small groups use the building, they shall complete cleaning after use following the protocol for the space they use, including the hallways.
    5. As always, coordinate all building use through the Office and Jonathan Allison.
  6. CHOIRS: We will not have vocal choirs during Phase 1, unless they are small and can practice socially distancing in their singing and their practicing.
    1. The Virginia guidance recommends that we “Suspend the choir as part of services.” AND  “Consider discontinuing use of common items (e.g., microphones, books, hymnals, scriptural texts) that may be shared between people and are difficult to clean. Consider assigning religious books to a family or individual that they can bring to each service, or use a projector for the display of sacred texts, scriptures, and songs.”
    2. Handbell choirs and Drama can continue, provided they practice social distancing.
    3. Drama can meet with social distancing. Children’s drama shall follow the parameters of children’s ministry. Adults shall follow the in-person meeting guidance.
  7. OUTSIDE USAGE
    1. FUNERALS: We will continue to hold funerals as long as social distancing practices, including congregation size and spacing limitations, are honored as well as other provisions in these requirements, like food. In planning, note that the current sanctuary seating is such that we likely cannot fit more than 150 people.
    2. PRIVATE USE OF BUILDING: On a case-by-case basis, members may use the building for private lessons and study groups, provided they allow for adequate cleaning time before NLIC ministries, follow social distancing, and are approved by the church office.
    3. NON-CHURCH GROUPS: We will not be able to host large, ongoing non-New Life in Christ Church groups this year.

Edited May 22 (Added “PRIVATE USE OF BUILDING” and “NON-CHURCH GROUPS” sections)