COVID-19 Response

Frequently Asked Questions

Worship

Do we need to wear masks for worship even though people are receiving vaccines?
Yes, the “CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people” and even “after you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions…like wearing a mask…in public places…” (source 1, 2)

Is there still a time limit for gathering for in-person worship?
No, gatherings are only limited depending upon ventilation and space. However, “if your faith community offers multiple services, consider scheduling services far enough apart to allow time for cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces between services.” (source)

Do we need to maintain the 36 square foot bubble per family unit?
Yes, you should “promote social distancing at services and other gatherings, ensuring that clergy, staff, choir, volunteers and attendees at the services follow social distancing, as circumstances and faith traditions allow, to lessen their risk.” This applies for outdoor events as well, as “you are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities…when you stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you.” (source 1, 2)

May we sing in worship?
Yes, if masked and distanced.

May we use hymnals, registration pads, offering plates, etc?
You should strongly “consider temporarily limiting the sharing of frequently touched objects, such as worship aids, prayer rugs, prayer books, hymnals, religious texts and other bulletins, books, or other items passed or shared among congregants, and encouraging congregants to bring their own such items, if possible, or photocopying or projecting prayers, songs, and texts using electronic means.” (source)

What elements should we use for communion? 
You should still offer pre-packaged elements only.

May we gather at full capacity?
“The size of the event should be determined based on whether attendees from different households can stay at least 6 feet (2 arm lengths).” (source)

Pastoral Care

May visitation teams resume calls to nursing homes and healthcare facilities?
While current federal guidance is that facilities should “allow responsible indoor visitation at all times and for all residents”, you will need to check with your local facility before visiting to gather their guidelines for pastoral visits. (source)

Children and Youth

May youth groups attend overnight in-person summer camps?
If attending any overnight camp programming, that programming should be in accordance with CDC guidelines found here.

May we offer childcare during worship and other events?
Yes, if in accordance with the CDC guidelines here and any applicable guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health (including these guidelines here).

Hospitality

May we resume offering self-serve coffee stations for small in-person gatherings?
No, as CDC guidance currently states that small gatherings should “have one person serve all the food. (source)

May we resume having food and beverages at church-wide events?
“If food is offered at any event, consider pre-packaged options, and avoid buffet or family-style meals.” (source)

Herd Immunity

How does “herd immunity” affect my church and community?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herd immunity is “a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely.” Right now, the CDC says they are still learning exactly how many people will need to be immune to the virus before most people can be considered protected. (source)