In Person Worship & Covid Updates

Updates [through Aug. 25] on Covid Health and Safety Guidelines for In Person Worship

The Worship Team met along with the pastor, Minister of Music, and Church Moderator to both review our Covid health and safety guidelines and to begin planning for worship attendance in the Fall, including for the music program and children and youth. We will continue our “baby steps” approach, meeting regularly to assess the changes occurring in our community and our state, and follow the 3 principles that have guided our decisions for the last 17 months. These principles are: the health and safety of the congregation is our primary concern; to follow the guidelines of the state of RI Dept of Health; and to move forward at the pace that makes sense for the Woodridge community.

With this in in mind, we decided that through (Sunday) Sept 5:

  1. Continue tracking attendees at worship, for contact tracing if needed. The ushers will continue to use the list of those who have been attending and check off arrivals at worship.
  2. Fully vaccinated individuals may attend the service without masks, if they are comfortable doing so.  Also, we will bring back the music stand to prominently display the checklist of screening questions. 
  3. Those who recently traveled by airplane or out of the country are strongly encouraged to wear masks the following two Sundays after their return. 
  4. Unvaccinated individuals must continue wearing their masks at all times while indoors.
  5. We will continue singing the Doxology and the last hymn indoors.  Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask until September 12 while singing.  As of September 12, if children are present, the entire congregation will be masked for singing.  Unvaccinated individuals will continue wearing a mask.  We will also sing outside after the service, without masks.  In case of rain, at the end of the service we may add a closing song indoors. 
  6. We will keep our social distance spacing at 6’ as much as possible.  If the open pews are at capacity, we can seat the overflow people in the blocked off rows, not directly in front of or behind someone.  The social distance can be decreased to 3’ as needed.  EXCEPTION:  Fully vaccinated individuals who are not from the same household may sit with each other as desired.
  7. During the passing the peace, all may walk around and greet each other.  Elbow bumping is fine.  No hand shaking or hugging.  Beginning Sept 12, when you return to your pew after passing the peace and if the children have left the sanctuary, you may remove your mask for the rest of the service.
  8. Communion – continue using individual servings.
  9. Continue sanitizing after the service.

In addition, the choir and staff met and have developed the following guidelines for resuming the full music ministry. This is what they decided:

  1. The choir will start to rehearse the first Thursday of September, with the goal of singing on Sunday as soon as they are ready. The choir will rehearse in the sanctuary.  Some members will mask to rehearse.  Possibly they will mask to perform. The choir will socially distance and stand as far back on the altar as possible on Sunday mornings.  They will be at least 15’ from the congregation.  Their anthem will be near the very end of the service.  Any members of the congregation who wish to mask during the anthem may do so.
  2. Full chimes: in September the rehearsal time will move from its current 9 AM Sunday morning to Thursday evening. 
  3. Prime Time Chimers: hold for now.
  4. Instrumental Group: hold for now. 

Finally, there was some discussion about children and youth attending worship in the fall and the following was decided:

  1. The most important decision was to protect our children and youth (many who cannot be vaccinated) by asking everyone (regardless of vaccination status) to wear a mask while children are present in the worship space. Masks may be removed by vaccinated people after the children have gone to Sunday school and more social distancing may be achieved. Masks are optional while singing outside following the service.
  2. The Children’s Sermon will resume on September 12.  Scott will sit on a stool on the altar.  The kids will sit on the steps, at a 45 degree angle to Scott and the congregation and be socially distanced.

Additional information concerning Children and Youth – September worship and Sunday school:

We will welcome back our children and youth in 2 ways beginning September 12.

  1. Sept 12 & 19: Intergenerational worship for all ages in the sanctuary … kid-friendly prayers and readings; children’s message with the pastor; interactive sermon; and fun music including singing outside. To protect our children – masks will be required.
  2. Sept 26: Welcome back Sunday … Sunday school starts again … children will go directly to Sunday school instead of the sanctuary and have fun lessons outside … before joining the rest of the congregation outside for singing and a closing prayer. Watch for more details in the coming weeks.