Regathering Preparedness Plan
The Bemidji Evangelical Covenant Church is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our church family and community. To ensure that, we have developed Regathering Preparedness Recommendations for the staff and leadership team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We used guidance offered by the Minnesota Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and information contained in Executive Orders signed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and the Stay Safe Minnesota website.
In the planning process, the regathering team wants to glorify God and serve those who come to the Bemidji Evangelical Covenant Church. Matthew 22:37-39. 1 John 3:18.
We want to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19, which requires full cooperation of staff and members and guests of our church building and campus. With a comprehensive, cooperative effort, we can establish and maintain the safety and health of our church.
Service Options: 9:00 & 10:45
- Services will be at 9 and 10:45 AM. The indoor single space capacity is 250. This number is subject to change per Governor orders. The numbers of services offered may change based on numbers attending and updates to the Governors orders.
- The first service is suggested for those who are vulnerable or at risk, as the sanctuary will have sat unoccupied for the greatest amount of time previous to use. Both services will be the same service, each a mix of traditional and contemporary.
- The 10:45 service will be live streamed and continue to be available throughout the week at the church’s website, bemidjicovenant.com. We have a substantial church family community online and they are of equal value to those who are present in the building during regathering, therefore every effort will be made to give them a quality online experience.
- A family friendly space will be offered during the 10:45 service. This space will be held in the gym with the service streamed from online. There will be no children’s ministry options or nursery available for kids until fall or further planning is in place. Parents are welcome to bring water, food, and quiet activities for their children as needed.
- Per State of Minnesota Executive Order 20-81 and the Bemidji City Ordinance, masks will be required to be worn at all times for every attendee over the age of 5.
- Masks will be available for those who forget or for visitors who are new to the facility.
- Mask wearing will not occur on stage as audio concerns come into play, however a 12-foot distance will be maintained between those on the platform and the congregation.
- For safety reasons, a mask or face covering should not be placed on young children under age 2. Anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask or cloth face coverings without assistance should not wear a mask.
Sanctuary: Elements of the Service
- Pews will be marked to offer 6-foot social distancing between households.
- Hymnals, Bibles, giving envelopes and pens will be removed from the pews. Attendees are welcome to bring these items from home if desired.
- An appropriate amount of time will be allocated between services to clean and sanitize the sanctuary. Microphones will be sanitized after every use.
- If the church is able to obtain individually wrapped communion packets, these will be preferred for serving communion.
- Preaching and hosting will be in live in person, and music will remain pre-recorded for the time being. This is subject to change as safety procedures are further developed.
- There will be no passing of collection plates or bulletins.
Entrance & Exit to the Building: Building Concerns
- Attendees should enter the building through the main entrances on the North and South side and will be encouraged to sanitize their hands upon entry into the church. Hand sanitizer will be available. Attendees will also exit through the two side doors.
- Access to most of the church will be limited for essential needs only. Bathrooms will be available inside and cleaned regularly.
- Ushers will guide households to their seating within the sanctuary and dismiss household from their seats at the end of the service to ensure social distancing.
- Food and beverage will not be served.
- Drinking fountains are unavailable for use, but attendees may bring their personal water bottle into the sanctuary.
- Nursery and kids church will not be offered until a later date. The family room in the sanctuary will be unavailable for use due to lack of ventilation.
A sanitation schedule and checklist will be developed. For more information, see Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening: Faith-based communities, Places of Worship, Weddings, and Funerals. Stay Safe MN. https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/guidefaith.pdf
Plan for COVID-19 Exposure
- Attendees will register online prior to attending services on the church campus and a check-in person will also gather names and phone numbers of those attending each service to help determine who was at church in case of exposure.
- The church lead team will determine if the church needs to be closed following a known COVID exposure, to quarantine staff and volunteers, as well as clean appropriately.
- If it is known that an attendee using the church has become diagnosed with COVID-19, cleaning protocols outlined by the CDC will be followed.
These include, but are not limited to:
1.Immediately closing the area(s) used by the individual who is sick.
2.Opening outside doors and windows if possible.
3.Waiting 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting the area.
4.Once the area has been properly disinfected, it will be reopened for use.