Covid-19 Response
Take a listen to the final installment of Sunday night services from our Conference Superintendent Doug Rabe.
May this Memorial Day recording be a blessing to you and source of encouragement.
 
As our churches begin to re-open and we all start the process of returning to some sort of normalcy we ask that you please continue to adhere to the “social distancing,” wearing of mask, and frequent hand washing for your health and those around you.
 
On this page you will find links for information on the virus symptoms, cautions you should take, as well as updates to our Corona response policies.

Sunday Evening Service

Posted by Doug Rabe on Sunday, May 24, 2020

 
 
 
At this time, churches are now allowed to reopen their doors. Please read the updates at rhe bottom of this page for protocols to follow.
 
Provided below is instructions on going live via Facebook if you already have an account. This is a great resource to continue to use even as we ease back into social gatherings.
 

How to go live on Facebook

  1. Go to your Facebook News Feed and press the Live option (the camcorder icon)
  2. Write a video description.
  3. Select a privacy setting by tapping the ellipsis in the bottom right corner and opening up Audience Restrictions.
  4. Add a Facebook Live filter, lens, or doodle. (if you choose to.)
  5. Press the “Start Live Video” button.
 
If you need to create an account for Facebook the link is provided here. https://www.facebook.com/
 
If you have a webpage for your church this would be a good time to look into live streaming from there as well, or just simply posting your videos to the page so you can continue to meet the Spiritual needs of your congregation.
 
Suggested by a church in our Conference we have also added a page on how to host, and the protocols, for a drive-in church service. HERE
Without tithes and offerings we all know that the church cannot function. From when God first placed priest over the body of Israel, he made ordinances for how the Levites would be provided for.
 
Deuteronomy 18:1-2

18 The Levitical priests—indeed, the whole tribe of Levi—are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the Lord, for that is their inheritance.

Again, we are happy to provide a solution to this problem for your church. Thankfully we live in a time of great technology, so in addition to online services you are also able to offer online giving! This may be a blessing in disguise for many churches, as statics show that churches who offer online giving show a 35% increase in annual revenue.
 
Online giving can be set up on Facebook if you have a Paypal account but it’s not the only option. Provided below is a link on some of the best ways to collect online tithes and offerings.
 
 
If you have an  established church website, you may even have an option for online giving through that platform as well, if not you can use one of the suggested options and add the link to your website!
 
Symptoms and Best Practices
Knowing the symptoms is a huge part of keeping the virus in check. To the right I have provided a chart to help you distinguish if you may be suffering from the virus.
 
But knowing the symptoms is only helpful after its been contracted. In order to help stop the spread we ask that everyone adhere to the ‘social distancing’ policies enacted by our Government and the ‘Common Protocol’ set forth by our BOAs. Below you will find a list of the common protocols as well as a link to the complete PDF version.
 
1. Everyone participating in any ministry of the church MUST WASH OR SANITIZE THEIR HANDS upon arrival and after touching anything!
2. Everyone must strictly adhere to the 6 feet social distancing protocol.
3. Masks and gloves must be worn by all in the set up and performance of your ministry duties.
4. If you are sick, feel like you might be getting sick, or are coughing, or have a fever STAY HOME!!!
5. For those preparing and distributing food, backpacks or any other items, they must wear gloves and a mask and if possible, a hospital type gown. In addition, a safety zone should be established for food, backpacks or any other items to be placed on a SANITIZED table or surface where those who are receiving the service can pick up their own items. Nothing should be handed to a person directly.
6. Those involved with DELIVERIES should wear masks and gloves and leave items on a porch or walkway and let those receiving the item(s) pick them up.
7. All teams involved in Drive-In Church and/or Worship Services should follow the protocol established and outlined here.
8. No more than 10 people should be in the same space at the same time and that space should provide the needed six feet or more between persons.  
9. NO ONE attending a Drive-In Church service is to get out of their vehicle. Attenders should be instructed to please use the restroom before leaving their home. No one other than the Drive-In Church team should enter the church building before, during or after the service. 
10. The Transporting of People is potentially the most dangerous of the ministries the church can assist people with during this pandemic. Therefore, special precautions should be made in order to carry out this important ministry.
A. Larger vehicles, that can create greater space between people, are preferable.
B. The vehicle should be sanitized before and after transporting a person.
C. The person doing the transporting should wear a mask, gloves and if possible, a hospital type gown.
D. The rider should wear a mask and gloves. 
 
For the complete list of Common Protocols please click the following link Common Protocol.
Symptoms
 

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

 

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19
 

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus. CDC recommends people practice frequent “hand hygiene,” which is either washing hands with soap or water or using an alcohol-based hand rub. CDC also recommends routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
 

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, which means it goes from person-to-person without stopping.

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people.
  • Information from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic suggest that this virus is spreading more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious.
Updates
!!!!! IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL PENNSYLVANIA CLERGY AND RESIDENTS !!!!!!
 
As of July 1st, Secretary of Health Rachel Levine has signed an order that everyone MUST wear a face covering whenever they leave their homes. This order was to take effect immediately! Gov. Wolf and Secretary Levine feel that this is a neccessay step for the protection of all Pennsylvanians as we have seen a spike in cases since the re-opening has begun. For further details please follow the included link SOH-Face-Coverings-Order.
 
For more information on Covid-19 from any of the 3 states in the Harvest Confernce please use the links below:

 

Ohio

For more details and the most current information visit:

https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home

 

Pa

For more details, including what qualifies as a life sustaining business, please visit

 

WV

For more details and the latest information on West Virginia’s response please visit:

https://dhhr.wv.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx

As per our instructions from the Board of Bishops, we will follow the social distancing, sanitizing and masking recommendation of the state and CDC. The reopening plans that have been received would still be followed, but you will be able to increase the number of people meeting for in person gatherings in the Green Phase.

 

So, what will church look like in the Green Phase? West Virginia’s guideline would be a match for all our churches in PA, OH & WV.

 

Religious entities and institutions should further consider implementing the following best practices:

 

  • Adding additional service times to facilitate proper distancing.
  • Ensuring all attendees sanitize their hands and put on a mask or face covering before entering the building.
  • Equipping ushers and greeters with gloves and masks.
  • Encouraging all attendees who are 65 and older to stay home and watch the services online or provide a “senior service” exclusively for attendees 65 and older to attend in person.
  • Ask all attendees who have an underlying at-risk health condition to stay home and watch the services online.
  • Restricting seating to every other pew.
  • Ensuring attendees sit with their immediate family unit, use physical distancing between each unit.
  • Clergy should dismiss attendees by family unit in order to maintain physical distancing.
  • Staff should sanitize seats and frequently used surfaces between services. Consider keeping childcare closed, unless the place of worship can comply with CDC guidelines for childcare facilities.
  • Consider refraining from passing collection plates and instead provide a central collection box or encourage online giving.
  • Consider how the sacraments can be administered without attendees having to touch the same surfaces and objects.

 

These guidelines are recommendations to give religious entities and institutions the best tools available to keep clergy and their congregation.

 

Underlined portions of the guide are specific to the maximum size of group gatherings in the church building. A study of Catholic churches in Ohio shows that you reach capacity for social distancing at 47% or less of your sanctuary space. So, if you had one service that was at near capacity before the shutdown, you will need at least two services in the Green Phase in Pennsylvania (the same for Ohio and West Virginia who will move to this level on June 7).

 

Support Your Local Pastor

 

The church entered the gathering shutdown in great unity and creativity, but the reopening is seeing some disunity and multiple opinions. Some say we are opening to soon, some say we are opening to slowly, some say we should ignore the State/CDC guidelines and fill the churches up and some say we should not open until there is a vaccine. There is no way to please all the opinions out there.

 

What should we do? Delegates will make a significant difference by supporting your local pastor! Your unity with your pastor will be an example to the whole congregation that we are in this together. Yes, we all have our opinions, but since it is impossible to follow multiple opinions, work to get on the same page with your pastor and just step out and believe God is stepping out with you. Pray, follow your plan and trust God to carry you through.

 

John 17

23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

Singing in the Service

 

There have been many articles written about the dangers of singing in church. My head is aching from reading all the different articles on the subject. Across the country some churches that have stopped singing for now, some are limiting singing to less and shorter songs, some are encouraging people to sing quietly, and some are doing the same now as before the shutdown. 
 

Here are three articles for your consideration:

 

https://focus.masseyeandear.org/is-singing-in-a-choir-safe-during-covid-19-a-voice-expert-explains-the-risk/

 

https://slippedisc.com/2020/05/two-munich-scientists-pronounce-singing-to-be-covid-safe/

 

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/05/27/dr-anthony-fauci-catholic-churches-masks-communion-covid-coronavirus

 

Supt. Doug’s thoughts on singing/worshiping in church during Corona-virus:

 

I lead singing for the 3rd Step Recovery Church and sometimes I sing at Monacrest FMC. The plan at Monacrest is to be distanced from others on the worship team by way more than 6 feet and at least 15 or more feet from the congregation. The congregation will be masked and socially distanced. Monacrest is limiting the number of songs and shortening the service to create less exposure and offering an outdoor service.

 

Whatever you do concerning singing in the church, look for ways to make things as safe as possible for your setting.