As the president moves to force states to declare places of worship "essential", we offer viewpoints on the topic of resuming services in our churches, temples, mosques, and meeting houses.
We have received, through our allies at San Francisco Interfaith Council, the guidelines from California's Governor Gavin Newsom:
In the opening verses of Matthew 10, Jesus sends his disciples to find and heal the sick. That takes precedence over preaching the Word. In the Age of Pandemic, our considerations need to be made in light of both faith and science, of our immediate beloved community and the broader reaches of our interactions with the world. Early church, very primitive church, took place in the home. We can find our roots that way as well as in pews in our buildings. God is where the heart is. The rest is for deliberation.
We hope the guidelines are useful. We know your good sense will help you find your individual and collective ways forward.
In addition, many of our member denominations have issued guidance and protocols for reopening and strongly encourage congregations to err on the side of compassion and safety. For example, the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church provides the following guidelines:
New Local Church Protocols for Preschools and Drive-in church gatherings
As new cases of coronavirus and deaths as a result of COVID-19 begin to decline in Nevada and California shelter in place restrictions are beginning to ease in phases. As we venture out with masks and hand sanitizer into our new normal, the Conference staff has been preparing new protocols for local churches so that as we begin to gather we continue to protect our faith family.
Many churches have wanted to take advantage of gathering for a 'drive in' worship in which folks gather in the church or alternate parking lot and stay in their cars. This may sound simple yet there are still necessary precautions to consider that keep folks safe and protected.
The drive-in protocol is posted on the conference coronavirus page. Click here to access the protocol.