The People’s Church regathering team met on March 23 to review current science and public health recommendations and assess how our processes and procedures for in-person Sunday morning church attendance has gone so far. It has gone well. People have been great at wearing masks and following our screening procedures. Thank you! Given the high rates of vaccination in our church community and the currently low rates of COVID transmission in Kalamazoo County, we have made some adjustments to our procedures and expectations of one another.

Our COVID vaccine policy can be found HERE

Singing is back! People attending worship in person are now invited to sing during services with their masks on. Rev. Rachel and Savannah Ramsey, our music director, will talk soon about possibilities for choir practices and performances. This will continue as long as Kalamazoo County’s CDC COVID Community Level remains low. (You can check the county’s current status here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html)

Health screenings at the doors will continue and we will stop asking people to RSVP for Sunday Services. In our first six weeks of in-person attendance, we have not once reached our in-person attendance cap of 87 people, as many folks continue to prefer to attend services via Zoom or watch them on YouTube. When in-person attendance increases, the regathering team will reassess this. We will continue to screen everyone at the door on Sundays to make sure they are vaccinated, if eligible, and have no symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Still no coffee hour or other large group eating and drinking together indoors. The regathering team has determined that removing masks to eat (and the socializing that happens while the masks are off) is still too risky. Small groups in the church can continue to decide if they want to eat and drink together. We know there is a party planned for departing administrator Chris Schleuder on April 24. We hope that the weather will be warm enough for the eating to happen outside. The regathering team plans to meet a few days before that event to assess weather and current COVID conditions to offer guidance for that event.

Masks are no longer required for outdoor activities. The science shows that the risk of COVID-19 while outside is negligible. We will no longer be requiring masks for gatherings and activities on the church grounds. If people prefer to wear masks, they are welcome to do so.

Masks are not required for service leaders who show proof of vaccination and maintain more than six feet of distance from others. Given the ventilation improvements in The Commons, the regathering team does not believe it is necessary for people who remain seated on the stage/chancel/elevated platform in the front of The Commons to be masked if they are distanced from others. This will mainly apply to Rev. Rachel and Sunday Services Committee members who are leading their portions of the service in-person. Of course, anyone who prefers to mask is welcome to do so.

We know that everyone is assessing the risks of this moment differently and making the choices that are right for them. We will continue to offer multi-platform services for the foreseeable future as well as many programs, groups, and meetings on Zoom. We are committed to following scientific and public health guidance as we navigate this moment. We will give people accurate information about what they can expect at church so they can make informed choices. We strive to be as accessible as we can be to everyone in our People’s Church community.

If you have questions about any of this, please be in contact with the Regathering Team. The members are Marti Peters-Sparling, Donna McClurkan, Rev. Rachel Lonberg, Gary Heckman, Greg Feldmeier, and Melissa Emrich.

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