As many of you know, St. Paul’s is currently in Stage 1 of the Diocesan re-opening protocol. Originally, Stage 2 was expected to start on July 1st, but that start has been delayed in response to continued increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
In our current Stage 1, the guidelines are as follows:
- The church office remains closed.
- All worship is held via live streaming.
- Pastoral care and ministry meetings are held virtually via phone or teleconferencing.
- Weddings and baptisms are suspended, except when exemptions are granted by the Bishop.
- Funerals are limited to graveside services of fewer than 10 people.
The St. Paul’s COVID-19 Protocol Committee, clergy, and staff are planning for Stage 2. In doing so, we are considering guidance provided by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina (.pdf) and CDC Guidance for Community and Faith-based Organizations. We expect our plans will evolve as new guidance is received.
Though we are not yet able to move to the next stage, the following is a broad outline of what Stage 2 will look like:
- We will not return to in-person Sunday worship right away. Participation via live stream will continue to be the norm.
- We will, however, be able to celebrate special events, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. Diocesan guidelines will allow us to hold services for up to 25 people indoors and 35 people outdoors, including clergy.
- The use of masks and observance of at least 6 feet of distance will continue to be required.
- Pastoral care and ministry meetings will continue to be held virtually via phone or teleconferencing.
Following this letter, you will find initial guidance regarding Stage 2. When specific Stage 2 plans are adopted, those will be available here as well. If you have any questions about these or other topics related to reopening, please do not hesitate to contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-467-1477).
Thank you for your understanding as we move forward. The path through these stages may be slow and may not always be linear. Please know, however, that your safety and that of your fellow parishioners is of utmost importance to us. Remember, even when we are not meeting in person, the Church moves forward and our mission to live into God’s dream for us continues.
The St. Paul’s COVID-19 Protocol Committee
Clergy: The Rev. George Adamik (Rector), the Rev. Javier Almendarez-Bautista (Assoc. Rector), the Rev. Candy Snively (Deacon)
Staff: Brooke Bowersox (Preschool), Melanie Fairbrother (Office), Laura Gorman (Kids Club), Rusty McKinney (Music), Brandy Satterfield (Financial), Zach Rugen (Youth), Natalie Sroka (Children)
Parishioners: Margie Best, Dan Loughlin, Toni Holderied, Allan Thunes (Vestry), and Lanny Wase
Initial Stage 2 Guidance
As our plans evolve, this guidance will be updated.
Last update: June 30, 2020
Where can I get basic information about COVID-19?
For those with COVID-19 symptoms, please stay at home and contact your health provider or 911 in case of emergency. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please do not access St. Paul’s grounds or facilities until you have met the CDC’s guidelines for discontinuing home isolation. If you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow the relevant CDC guidance. If you are considered to be at-risk, we ask that you take advantage of St. Paul’s virtual worship and other offerings and programs.
Is the church building open?
During Stages 1 and 2, we discourage parishioners and others from visiting our church building. If you must visit, you will notice that only entry through the front door is possible. There is a sign-in sheet as well as a COVID-19 questionnaire. Both are mandatory for each visit that is made. If any answer on the questionnaire is “Yes”, that individual should not remain in the building. Masks are to be worn within the building (except for staff when alone in offices), and we expect 6-ft social distancing to be practiced.
- Please consider bringing your own pen for the sign-in sheet and COVID-19 form. We will have pens available as well. If you use one of these pens, you can place it in the box with the returned COVID-19 questionnaires. Pens will be cleaned and re-used.
- Please bring a mask and wear it while in the building. Only clergy and staff when alone in their own offices are not required to wear masks. The church plans to have some disposable masks available.
- If you have to cough or sneeze, please use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately afterwards.
- Hand sanitizer will be available in commonly used rooms. Please use this hand sanitizer frequently.
- Interior doors will be propped open. Please leave doors in this position.
- For those wishing to make financial contributions, checks can be mailed to the church office and electronic giving is also possible. Please see the St. Paul’s donation page for more information. Alternatively, if you have questions, you can call the church office at 919-477-1477 and leave a message.
What will worship look like in Stage 2?
We will not return to in-person Sunday worship right away, and virtual participation will continue to be the norm. During Stage 2, however, diocesan guidelines allow us to hold services for up to 25 people indoors and 35 people outdoors. This will allow for the celebration of special events, such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
As a church with nearly 2,000 parishioners, it is difficult to know how Sunday worship would work within these limitations, so we plan to start Stage 2 with virtual services only, although we may elect to introduce small services at a later time. For those interested in celebrating baptisms, weddings, and funerals, please contact the church office. Ushers will be trained to assist parishioners with social-distancing protocol at each of these events.
How can my ministry or committee meet?
We strongly encourage ministries to meet virtually. All on-campus guidance is applicable to off-campus meetings and gatherings as well. If your ministry needs assistance in setting up virtual meetings via phone or web, please contact the church office (email@example.com or 919-467-1477).
- During Stage 2, all in-person meetings are discouraged. We ask that you consider virtual meetings via mechanisms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Reservationless Plus, or other options. If you need assistance in setting up virtual meetings, please contact the church office.
- If it is necessary to hold a meeting at the church, please contact the church office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) well in advance of the meeting date for building status, room availability, and scheduling.
- Follow the guidance provided to all parishioners regarding building access.
- Please keep attendance at in-person meetings, including sign-in sheets and contact information for each individual who attends. The sign-in sheets can be placed in the COVID-19 Questionnaire box in the Narthex immediately after the meeting.
- When in the building, please try to avoid using common touch items, like keypads, electronic devices, scissors, and books. Also, please avoid using items that may be difficult to clean, sanitize, or disinfect.
- Meeting areas must accommodate 6 feet of space between attendees who do not live in the same household.
- All attendees must wear masks at all times.
- The above standards also apply to any church group meeting in an alternate location outside the church
- Please note that food will not be distributed for consumption during meetings. Food distribution in ministry context, such as providing food to the needy, is allowed.
What do I need to know as a volunteer?
All volunteer activities will be coordinated by the office. At least 24 hours before you are scheduled to volunteer, please email the church (email@example.com) to determine office status.
- Please adhere to the sign-in, COVID-19 questionnaire, social distancing, mask, and other guidance provided to all parishioners when entering the building.
- We will have the buildings professionally cleaned. However, others may use the same spaces and areas before that cleaning takes place. To protect them, we ask that you clean your work area before you leave. Cleaning solution in spray bottles and paper towels are located in commonly used areas, such as the conference room and work room. Spray down and wipe all surfaces that you have contacted.
How is St. Paul’s ensuring that the buildings remain clean and safe?
We have placed hand sanitizer and cleaning agents in common areas and workplaces. In addition, we are working with our cleaning crew to ensure that common areas and commonly touched surfaces are disinfected. To avoid affecting others between these cleanings, however, we ask that those visiting the building also clean the surfaces that they have touched. Water fountains have been turned off, and the ventilation system has been serviced to verify proper air circulation. Please see the guidance for volunteers above.
What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 and have been in contact with others in the church community?
If you test positive for COVID-19 and have been in contact with others within the church community, please contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-467-1477). We will maintain confidentiality to the extent possible, while notifying others that may have been affected.