COVID-19 Re-Entry Plan

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let me first commend you for your patience and faithfulness during this difficult and painful season of COVID-19. As shepherds of God’s flock, you have been diligent in proclaiming the Word and caring for your communities of faith in amazing and extraordinary ways. We will continue to need your holy imaginations and creative spiritual actions in the days ahead. Therefore, I pray that all the new things God has taught, and continues to teach us through this pandemic, will not stop because we are now readying ourselves to resume in-person worship.

I am indeed grateful for the Kentucky Annual Conference’s task force, which has faithfully worked to shape ways of honoring God through re-entry, while still protecting the most vulnerable of society against COVID-19. Below you will find guidelines in phases that we feel will give us the best chance to care for one another without causing more pain, suffering, or death. These phases are:

  • Phase I - Preparing Facilities and Congregational Members for Re-Entry
  • Phase II - Re-Entry into Facilities and Worship
  • Phase III - Sustaining Safe Facilities and Health of Congregational Members


As you prepare to resume in-person worship, know that you should feel no sense of pressure to resume on May 20th or 24th. Set your own time-line for reopening, taking into consideration both the recommendations of our task force and forthcoming guidelines from the governor's office. Also, use the phases we are providing to create that time-line for resumption of in-person worship and ministry. At the very least, it is important that you have fulfilled the guidelines for Phase I before reopening. Phase II is also included with this document. The task force will share Phase III in the near future.


I have asked the task force to stay together because, even though we will be able to start in-person worship, nothing about it will be normal for the foreseeable future. This team will also remain intact to make sure we do not lose the creativity, energy, and spiritual momentum God has blessed us with in our willingness to try new things.


Along with the guidelines, below are the names of the task force team members who have given their time and energy to help us live into the Three Simple Rules that John Wesley laid out as a set of real-world guidelines to help us apply our faith to our everyday lives. The rules, a tangible way to live out our faith as we continue to navigate this pandemic, are:

  1. Do no harm.
  2. Do good.
  3. Stay in love with God.

I believe God is birthing something new out of our suffering. We are, after all, Easter people. Again, thank you for your patience and faithfulness as we move forward with care, prayer, and guidance from the Hol–y Spirit. Please know that my prayers and love are with you now and in all the days ahead.


In Christ,


Bishop Fairley


Re-Entry Task Force Team Members:
Rev. Dr. Eric Bryant, Director New Church Development
Kathy Bryant, RN-BC, BSN, Norton Healthcare Faith & Health Ministries
Rev. Patty Groot, Bridge Pastor, Christ Church United Methodist
Rev. William Moore, Director of Connectional Ministries
Mr. Craig Robertson, Spiritual Leadership, Inc.
Dr. Marian Smith RN Faith Community Nurse, Assistant Professor of Nursing WKU
Rev. James Williams, Lead Pastor Centenary UMC, Lexington


Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church
COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force


To support Kentucky United Methodist congregations and clergy, the KYUMC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force has approached re-entry decisions prayerfully and collaboratively. Because we know evidence and science has determined that large gatherings are the most dangerous venues for community-wide viral outbreaks, the following recommendations are offered as a way for pastors and church leaders to discuss plans for each phase of re-entry and communicate decisions to the local congregation. The Re-Entry Task Force has attempted to follow state and federal guidelines with the understanding that regional outbreaks, local church preparedness and other factors will mandate varied and flexible time-frames for reopening. We also realize that each congregation serves in a different context and will need to make decisions based on specific local executive orders. Based on many variables, we fully anticipate re-entry may occur at different times in different places. Regardless of the local situation the Re-Entry Task Force recommends that utilization of church facilities and in-person worship occur in three distinct phases.

 

  • Phase I - Preparing Facilities and Congregational Members for Re-Entry
  • Phase II - Re-Entry into Facilities and Worship
  • Phase III - Sustaining Safe Facilities and Health of Congregational Members

Furthermore, because the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving and to assist congregations with changes or updates the following will occur:

 

  •  In consultation with the Bishop, Cabinet and Conference representatives, the Re-Entry Task Force will continue to meet and make recommendations.
  • A KYUMC Conference COVID-19 web page will be established for all communications and important helpful information for clergy and churches. The COVID-19 web page will also include a “questions” tab so that clergy and churches may submit questions. A member of the Re-Entry Task Force will respond to questions.
  • A network of health ministry nurses and health experts is being established to assist at the regional (district) level during the re-entry and ongoing phases.

WHAT IS COVID-19?


COVID-19 is a respiratory disease transmitted by inhaling droplets from infected persons. While COVID-19 is a very different illness than the flu, it similarly is transmitted through droplets. Droplets can rest with active viruses on durable surfaces for hours or days, depending on the surface and environment.
In short, the concerns are:

 

  1. Immediate vicinity of COVID-19 infected persons where droplets from coughs or sneezes or breath can be inhaled by other people.
  2. Droplets from sneezes or coughs from infected persons on surfaces.

Current symptoms of COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html


Throughout all Phases of Re-Entry, the following is recommended for clergy and congregations.

 

  • Be Informed - keep up to date on executive orders given by state and local officials.
  • Practice good hand hygiene (wash hands or use 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer).
  • Stay at home if you are not feeling well. This includes pastors, church staff and volunteers.
  • Maintain recommended social distancing (6 feet) at all times in all places.
  • Wear masks as recommended by local and state guidance.
  • Limit face to face meetings, continue teleworking/meeting when possible.
  • Establish an effective and timely communication plan for all congregational members.


Do No Harm - We care about our vulnerable populations.


As we re-enter our church facilities and worship spaces, we must make decisions and communicate clearly with our most vulnerable populations in mind. These are people most susceptible and most at risk to COVID-19 and it is fully anticipated they will want to continue to worship online. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines vulnerable populations as:

 

  • Individuals over 65
  • Individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, and asthma
  • Individuals whose immune system is compromised (E.g. cancer, chemo and radiation therapy)


Please keep in mind the following: Just because we can reopen does not mean every church facility is ready to reopen. Churches should prayerfully discern the safest time for their congregation to re-enter church facilities and host worship services.

 

The tabs below will lead you to further explanation of the three Phases of the Re-Entry Plan.

                   


Questions?

Contact the members of the Re-Entry Task Force at re-entry@kyumc.org


Resources related to COVID-19

Download PDF of the COVID-19 Re-Entry Plan and the Healthy At Church Checklist