WORSHIP AND RELIGIOUS GATHERING RECOMMENDATION
Common practices faith leaders are adopting to assure congregants are feeling safe. Practicing social distancing in a spiritual environment.
We wanted to share NYDIS COVID-19 Tips for Church Gatherings.
GATHERING TO WORSHIP
Science and our creator-given reason demand that we employ every means available to protect ourselves and the vulnerable against the spread of COVID-19 and all public health hazards, at least our houses of worship become points of transmission. At this time, the discontinuation of public gatherings is not recommended. However, health officials are advising that the elderly and those with chronic lung disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or a weakened immune system should avoid unnecessary events and gatherings. Additionally, those who feel ill or sick should not attend worship/gatherings to avoid exposing people to their illness.
1) Post signs at all entrances and communicate that people feeling ill should not attend worship/gatherings. When possible, they may participate by internet or Livestream – develop the capability if it doesn’t exist and post URLs.
2) All houses of worship should provide hand sanitizing stations in their entry or sanctuary.
3) Christians should suspend the use of holy water stations.
4) Religious leaders and the faithful should refrain from handshaking, touching, embracing, or reverencing the hands/rings of the clergy or ritual objects. Fist bump, elbow bump, wave, or simply bow. Liturgical greetings should be replaced by a reverent bow.
5) Congregant families may sit together, but distancing of 4-6 feet between worshippers should be considered in an enclosed space.
6) Consider removing shared books and encourage congregants to bring their own, or replicate all songs and prayers into photocopied bulletins that can be discarded after one use.
7) Christian congregations who take holy communion from a common cup (Chalice) should refrain from self-intinction (dipping). Consider distributing a dipped host/bread into their palm.
8) After every liturgy, all surfaces and ritual objects should be disinfected carefully. Guidelines are provided in “Other Resources” on the back page of this tip sheet.
9) Post-liturgy greeting lines should be moved outside or suspended.
If your congregation has not done so already, consider equipping your worship space with Livestream or webcam capability to allow the ill, elderly, or vulnerable to participate – which will prove useful in case of future quarantine.
Pastoral visits too can be conducted virtually via laptops, desktops, and cell phones. Or, at a congregant’s home by asking them to come outside and take a walk, weather permitting, for private conversations.
We want to thank New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS) for sharing this critical and very time-relevant information for clergy on safe practices regarding worship, which contains both CDC and NYC DOHMH guidance, as well as common practices faith leaders around the country, are adopting to assure their congregants in feeling safe (i.e. practicing social distancing).
to keep updated and to get the latest information.
Praying for safe and healthy church gatherings in the coming days.