Grace Community United Methodist Church of Shreveport, LA
Strategy for Reopening / COVID-19 Guidelines/Phase 2
Developed by Grace Staff, Trustees and Leadership
Updated June 20, 2020
The physical gathering of God’s people is a means of grace. It feeds our souls and strengthens us for the journey of life in a unique way. It is our desire and intention to return to in-person gatherings as soon as it is safe to do so. The following guidelines are offered as a roadmap for our return to in-person worship and other gatherings. (Please note: these guidelines are subject to change as the situation unfolds.)
- General — We will follow the guidelines for reopening outlined by the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church: https://www.la-umc.org/newsproof/13932320
Rationale: Although there is an ongoing debate about the severity of COVID-19 and the best path forward, we support the guidance of our leaders as a good-faith effort to “do no harm” and safeguard the public health. We believe that we have a biblical mandate to protect the most vulnerable among us.
- Sunday Worship — The guidelines for gathering require that we limit attendance in our worship space capacity, have no congregational singing, no passing of the peace, or communion and distances of 6’ between families and 16’ – 20’ between band members. We desire to provide worship opportunities that are accessible and safe for congregants at home and those who desire to gather in person. The Staff and Leadership have determined to offer two opportunities for worship on Sunday morning. Beginning Sunday, July 12, 2020, Grace will open for a 9 am prayer service to be held onsite using strict protocols to maintain the safety of attendees. The guidelines for attending onsite can be found here: https://gracehappens.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Health-Protocol-for-Grace-Community.pdf.
The prayer service will include scripture, readings, and prayer. We will continue to offer the full Sunday worship online at 11:11, through Facebook and website for those who wish or need to limit their exposure. The 11:11 online service will include music by the Grace music team, scripture readings, participation from Grace members, and a weekly sermon.
Rationale: While it may be safe for some people to return to large public gatherings sooner than others, there are a number of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are not able to do so. Offering a brief onsite prayer service, while continuing to prepare and present a high quality online service at 11:11 allows us to meet the needs of all.
- Fellowship and spiritual growth opportunities – John Wesley was clear that opportunities to grow in faith, to study, to pray, and learn are important for followers of the way of Jesus. https://www.umc.org/en/content/the-wesleyan-means-of-grace
Grace Community staff and leadership continue to explore ways to provide these opportunities while prioritizing the safety of our community. We encourage all persons to engage in individual spiritual growth practices of reading, meditating, praying, studying the scriptures, fasting, and healthy living. As people feel safe, you may wish to engage with friends and family through socially distanced conversations and shared prayer over the phone, in person socially distanced on your porch or patio, or socially distanced in the Grace prayer garden, etc. We encourage people to participate in Facebook Live spiritual growth opportunities that include Centering Prayer (Tuesdays at 2 pm), Virtual Communion (Wednesdays at 5:30 pm), Faith Reflections (Thursdays at 2 pm) as well as small group zoom meetings. Stay tuned to announcements of additional opportunities.
Rationale: Individual practices are means of grace. They feed our souls and strengthen us for the journey. As we offer options for Sunday morning worship, we are also committed to continuing to provide other opportunities for people to grow in faith, to gather in sacred space for spiritual growth and prayer.
- Classes and Groups — When public schools resume normal activities, we will consider resuming nursery and in-person children’s and youth programs. Until then we will offer opportunities for children and youth online. Adult classes and other meetings will remain online through Zoom for the time being. Information regarding adult small groups can be found here: https://gracehappens.org/smallgroups/.
Trustees, staff, and leadership will consider allowing the use of the facilities for limited adult groups on a case by case basis after Phase 2. We invite people who desire to gather in person, to gather with others who feel safe in small groups, in homes, on porches or the Grace prayer garden, socially distanced, perhaps outside for study and fellowship.
Rationale: It is very difficult to maintain safe social-distancing and sanitation guidelines with young people. When school officials give the all clear, we too hope to resume our in-person activities. While adults are capable of self-regulation, managing multiple groups at our facility presents a unique sanitation challenge. It is safer and more manageable for us to hold off on in-person classes and meetings at the church at this time. We will continue to evaluate this decision as each step of reopening unfolds.
- Church Building — The church office and facility will be open by appointment. Please call or email the church to schedule an appointment.
Rationale: Protecting our staff, their families, and those with whom they come in contact is a high priority.
These guidelines will be reviewed regularly by leadership and staff and will be updated as needed.