COVID Survey and Council Update on Re-Opening

 

For the past few months, the Council has spent significant time and effort debating the opportunities and risks associated with the choice between continuing virtual-only worship and re-opening the sanctuary for in-person worship.  Council has done research on the rules and guidelines for conducting worship in the sanctuary and how those rules are changing over time.  Those guidelines we now have provide us the know-how to conduct worship according to the CDC and governmental guidelines if we were to vote to do so.  Some of those rules, as you would expect, surround pre-registration for those wishing to attend, sign-in, strict social distancing in seating and pedestrian flow, wearing of masks etc.  The pastor and instrumental music staff, ushers and Lay Leaders must agree to participate, as well as a number of other volunteers to monitor the sign-in process, be sure the seating is appropriate, perform some additional cleaning immediately after the service, and ensure adherence to the guidelines for all attendees.

 

We have also learned how important the on-line streaming of our worship service has become in this time and have decided that should continue to be available for those members that are hesitant to return, even if we were to reopen.  We have invested in new equipment to facilitate the streaming of our services.  This new equipment builds on the new equipment we installed with the opening of the Chapel in the Buttaro Room last October.  We hope to have that equipment ready in the next few weeks so that when we decide to conduct worship in-person we will not have to make significant other arrangements for those not willing or able to participate in person.

 

Knowing how we would approach the re-opening, we decided to conduct the survey you received in the last few weeks to measure congregational interest in in-person worship.  We are not the first church to conduct such a survey and the results are consistent with what we are hearing from other churches.

 

Thank you to those who have returned the surveys.  The results of from the first 2 questions are summarized below.

1.      EGCC gathering for worship:

a.      25 votes for Continue virtual worship as it is today

b.      15 votes for Outdoor worship only, as long as weather permits

                                                              i.      13 votes for on the front lawn

                                                             ii.      4 votes for via car in the parking lot

c.       27 votes for Indoor worship requiring registration/sign-in/temperature  

2.      If it were possible today, how soon would you attend EGCC in the building in person?

a.      9 votes for today

b.      11 votes for whenever EGCC opens for in-person worship

c.       4 votes for prior to 1/1/2021

d.      5 votes for 1/1/2021 or after

e.      12 votes for not until there is a safe and reputable vaccine

f.        11 votes for not sure right now

g.       0 votes for do not intend to return in person

 

The Council analysis of these results indicate, that at this time, there are people and families who would be willing to attend church in the very near future if we were to open and about the same number who are waiting for significant improvement in the virus measurements and reduction of perceived risk.  The approximately 50% open / 50% wait do not follow any discernable pattern (age of responders, Sunday school aged children families etc.) in the 55 or so responses. 

 

Given those results, and the relatively large number of staff and volunteers required to participate in an in-person service, the Council has decided that we will continue in the virtual worship mode at this time. 

 

We take very seriously the self-imposed requirement that the safety of our members and staff is paramount in any decision we make in this arena.  We meet at least twice per month and this item is on the agenda every meeting.  We actively solicit your continued input about our decision and will keep you informed of any change in our position.

 

Blessings to you and your families.

    David Harrold, Moderator                  Pam Turner, Vice Moderator

         Gayle Wilcox, Abundant Life Ministry                  Judy Goff, Missions and Outreach Ministry

  Betsy Mack, Worship and Caring Ministry                 Bob Perkins, Financial Resources Ministry

      Bill Hoerle, Physical Resources Ministry                 Gene Wilmot, Treasurer

      Bill Bowers, Human Resources Ministry

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6