Opening Up Our Churches After Coronavirus - An Early View

Opening Up Our Churches After Coronavirus - An Early View

Opening Up Our Churches After Coronavirus – An Early View

Dennis W. Watkins

Legal Counsel for Church of God

April 24, 2020


Introduction

I am writing this article and providing the resources attached as an early attempt to assist our churches in opening back up after what seems to be a lengthy halt from normal church activity and life.  Realistically, we all know that life after this will not be the same and that by necessity, we are approaching church involvement in an entirely new way.

The patterns that are forming and that will be carried out in church involvement now certainly are fluid and will vary significantly from place to place.  An important question now is:


“Where do you live?” Each state has its own set of guidelines and timetables relating to renewal of activity and even those guidelines are fluid.  Some of these guidelines are being promulgated by county or local authorities.  There simply is no “one-size fits all” solution, but I am going to cite you to some good resources I already have seen and to point out some simple steps that I think should be considered.  I also should point out that it may be necessary to update this article and resources as time goes on.


Resources

I will begin by citing for you and attaching as links some very good resources which I have seen:

  1. Pastoring in a Post-Pandemic Culture – This tremendous resource was written by Church of God ministers.  In particular I would like to thank Administrative Bishops Stan Holder, Thomas Madden, and Sean O’Neal as well as other ministers for their work on this source.  It addresses return to ministry in a very holistic sense, with observations regarding various aspects of this issue CLICK HERE TO VIEW (PowerPoint) and CLICK HERE TO VIEW (Article)

  2. Georgia Baptist Mission Board – Someone pointed out this short article to me and I have obtained permission to offer it as a resource.  It is very direct and to the point CLICK HERE TO VIEW

  3. CDC Checklist for Community and Faith Leaders – This would be an almost-required resource to consider when reopening your church CLICK HERE TO VIEW

  4. Louisiana Church of God - Dr. Derwood L. Perkins - this is a very helpful and more complete treatment of the issue.  I have obtained permission to offer it as a resource CLICK HERE TO VIEW

  5. Heritage Church, Moultrie, Georgia - “Road to Reinstate In-Person Ministry” - This is a plan for a larger-size local church.  Special thanks for permission to cite this source from my friend, Attorney Jon. V. Forehand CLICK HERE TO VIEW

  6. Please see this resource from the Eastern North Carolina Church of God CLICK HERE TO VIEW

My Quick Checklist

With the above resources in mind as a background, I will offer my own checklist.


I will call it “S-T-A-R-T

S – Sanitize – As you read all the resources, the first requirement mentioned is to sanitize your church and to be able to provide verification of that sanitization.  Some resources say that you should have your church professionally cleaned, if possible.  People returning to church will be vitally concerned about sanitization.  One resource states that you should even make sure your church smells clean!


T – Team – I am seeing recommendations that there should be a dedicated cleaning team which will be ongoing, and which will see keeping the church cleaned and sanitized as a ministry, almost like a safety or security team.


A – Assess – Be sure to correctly assess your state/county/local guidelines and requirements, and to comply with them.  As mentioned earlier, this is going to vary from state to state and possibly from locale to locale.  We are seeing recommendations regarding the use of masks and gloves, social distancing, testing, and contact tracing.  These requirements should be considered, as well as possibly allowing attendance at services in shifts and not all at once.


R – Reassess – As we all know, it is going to be necessary to reassess our methods of worship and contact among our constituency.  Many churches already have navigated into online worship and live-streaming of services, and many of these new methods will continue to be utilized.  There are some good guidelines regarding this in the above materials.


T – Think – Think outside the old box.  It will be necessary to continually think about new ways to incorporate church when people cannot come to the church.  Online giving will have to continue and new methods of keeping church community will have to continue.  There will be some people who simply will not be comfortable coming to church on site; therefore, you will need to be able to accommodate their needs.


Conclusion

I again would like to thank the authors of these resources in providing their articles for this website.  I trust that all of you will be guided by the Lord in opening up your churches for worship again, however that may evolve.


The writer is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services herein.  If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be obtained.

 

Reapertura de las Iglesias Después del Coronavirus: Primeros Consejos

Lcdo. Dennis W. Watkins

Asesor legal de la Iglesia de Dios

24 de abril de  2020


Introducción

Estoy redactando este artículo y sugiriendo estos recursos para ayudar a las iglesias con el proceso de reabrir sus puertas luego de esta larga pausa. Sabemos que las cosas no volverán a la normalidad y que la participación en la iglesia será diferente.


Los patrones actuales varían de un lugar a otro. Cabe preguntarse lo siguiente: «¿En dónde uste vive?». Cada estado tiene sus directrices y calendario para el resumen de las actividades diarias. Algunas de estas directrices están bajo el control de las autoridades locales. No existe una solución uniforme, pero quiero ofrecerle algunos recursos que podrían ayudarle a tomar los pasos necesarios. Tenga presente que este artículo será actualizado conforme pase el tiempo.


Recursos:

Estos son algunos de los mejores recursos que he visto:

  1. Pastoral en la cultura pospandemia: Este tremendo recurso fue preparado por ministros de la Iglesia de Dios. Quiero darles las gracias a los obispos administradores Stan Holder, Thomas Madden y Sean O’Neal, así como otros de los colaboradores. Se ofrece una visión holística para el regreso al ministerio. ..\Ministerios Hispanos\Preparandonos para Relanzarla Iglesia_.pdf

  2. “Lista de verificación para líderes religiosos y de la comunidad” del CDC. Este recurso es casi obligatorio para todos los líderes de fe. https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/checklist.html

Con esto en mente, les ofrezco mi propia lista de verificación:

  1. Higienice sus instalaciones: Como leerá, la primera recomendación es que se asegure de higienizar su templo y presente las pruebas. Algunos sugieren que contrate una empresa profesional. La gente querrá asegurarse de que el lugar está desinfectado. ¡Una Fuente sugiere que debe oler a desinfectante!

  2. Organice un equipo: He visto muchas recomendaciones acerca de nombrar un comité a cargo de la higiene del templo y que funcione como el equipo de seguridad.

  3. Revise las ordenanzas: Repase todas las ordenanzas de sus condado y estado y cúmplalas. Como ya hemos mencionado, estas reglas no son uniformes. Estamos viendo recomendaciones sobre el uso de máscaras y guantes, distanciamiento social, pruebas y rastreo de contactos.  Tómelos en cuenta, así como los cultos por turno.

  4. Reevalúe: Todos tendremos que reevaluar nuestros métodos de adoración y contacto físico. Muchas iglesias ya ofrecían sus cultos en línea y transmisiones en vivo. Muchos de estos métodos continuarán por buen tiempo. Los materiales antes mencionados pueden ayudarle.

  5. Sea creativo: Usted tendrá que buscar nuevas maneras para que la gente participe en la iglesia, aunque no esté físicamente presente. Mantenga los métodos a distancia tanto para las ofrendas como la confraternización.  Algunas personas no se sentirán cómodas en el templo. Busque la manera de servirles.

Conclusión

Estoy muy agradecido de los autores de los artículos mencionados. Confío en que el Señor los guiará durante este proceso de reabrir sus iglesias, pero esté listo para los cambios.


El escritor no presta servicios legales en el presente documento.  Si se requiere asesoramiento jurídico u otra asistencia experta, contrate los servicios de un profesional competente.