Dean Phelps, Transitional Regional Minister
Kentucky is seeing decreasing COVID-19 positivity rates and increasing vaccinations. Only a handful of counties are still in the red zone, and that’s a far cry from where we were just a few short weeks ago. All the signs are encouraging. The light at the end of this tunnel is shining brighter, and I’m not hearing train sounds.
With this positive news, we are seeing the possibility of returning to sanctuaries and sharing worship indoors. Some congregations have restarted indoor worship and are observing current CDC guidelines. Others are making plans to return soon.
However, we should plan for gathering and worshiping together indoors again with caution. The vaccines available are highly effective at preventing serious illness. At the same time, the data is encouraging but not conclusive about any vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing spread of the virus. So as we plan for a return to or continuation of indoor worship services, I recommend these precautions.
- If your county is still in the red zone, don’t hold in-person indoor services. If you are currently holding indoor services and your county returns to the red zone, pause your in-person gatherings.
- During indoor gatherings, continue to practice social distancing with a minimum of six feet and wear face coverings.
- As the weather warms, if possible, take advantage of the opportunity for outdoor gatherings.
- Small groups of people, 10-12, that have all been fully vaccinated can gather in person without masks.
- Limit congregational singing. If the congregation sings, encourage people to sing softly. Double masking for singing will provide an extra layer of protection from the aerosols that singing produces.
- If all choir members have been fully vaccinated, the choir might return to a limited rehearsal schedule. Even so, singers should still be spaced for rehearsal, and rehearsals should not yet be full voice. We are also at a point where it not advisable to bring the traditional choir back into worship.
- For now, we should still avoid passing things to one another, such as offering plates and communion trays.
- If the pastor or officiant has been vaccinated, we can hold limited baptisms. Baptisms should be limited to one household.
- We still may be called on for contact tracing. Keep a record of those present for in-person services.
These precautions do not reflect the way we would prefer to worship together. However, as trends continue to move in a positive direction, we anticipate being able to relax more of the these precautions and move closer to the in-person worship that we are accustomed to.
After Easter, I will begin easing my travel restriction, but I do not anticipate returning to a pre-pandemic travel schedule. My plan is to be available for special occasions in the life of congregations and ministers.
Most of all, I want to thank you for your faithful service during a most challenging time. We’re not completely out of the woods, but through your service, you have helped bring us to this day. Please know that I continue to pray with you and for you.