The Jamaica Union Conference welcomes the decision taken by the Government to allow Churches to resume worship services in their church buildings starting Sabbath, May 16, 2020.
We must, however, be wise and approach the reopening of our church buildings for worship service cautiously in light of the fact that we are still susceptible to contracting the virus, and the overall measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic are still in place.
The spiritual growth and overall physical and social wellbeing of our members are priorities. How do we as leaders of the Church create that balance between ensuring the safety of our members in this Pandemic while giving them the opportunity to fellowship and worship in their church buildings? We seek God’s guidance in our decision making to lead His people in these challenging times.
Therefore, the Jamaica Union Conference recommends that our church members continue to worship virtually from their homes as we have been doing since March 21, 2020, for the next two weeks. Local conferences should initiate the process to begin the phased reopening of our church buildings for worship services starting Sabbath, May 30, 2020.
For worship services to resume in our church buildings, the following protocols as outlined by the government on May 11, 2020, in addition to those already in place, must be maintained:
- Social distancing rules continue to apply throughout the church spaces. Everyone must stay at least 6 feet apart.
- Physical distancing rules to apply within the sanctuary or worship space. That is, 40 square feet per person. Therefore, the number of persons that will be permitted to worship in the sanctuary at any one time will be determined by the overall square footage of the main worship sanctuary or worship space.
- Each person entering the church for worship must do a temperature check prior to entry.
- Every church that will resume worship service in the church building must secure at least one thermometer to check the temperature of all worshipers.
- No Choir will be permitted to assemble in worship.
- Everyone must wear a mask in worship.
- There should be no handshaking or embracing, and gathering at the entrance, gate, churchyard, annex, vestry etc. for meetings and/or greetings.
- Air conditioning units must be turned off during worship.
- Churches may consider more than one service for the day, however members attending one service must leave the sanctuary/compound before another set of members arrive.
· A break period (of at least one hour) must be enforced after each service to allow for proper sanitization prior to the start of the next service.
- Hand sanitization program must be in place, along with adequate water supply in all restrooms.
We are depending on our local church leaders to ensure that these guidelines are strictly adhered to as we seek to make our space clean and healthy for everyone to worship.