We all miss our traditional worship services, enjoying fellowship, lifting up praises to our Savior, and giving back to the community. COVID-19 has surely changed our world, and before we rush back to the familiar places where we find comfort and peace, Insurance Board offers these thoughts for your consideration.
As believers, we must be thoughtful, prayerful and deliberate as we plan to return to in-person worship. There are many risk factors that must be fully weighed before making such a decision. With the potential risk of contracting COVID-19 by staff, congregants, volunteers, or third-party partners, and because the risk of potential liability claims exists for churches, a consistent plan should be developed in order to protect your ministry.
Insurance Board developed training videos that provide options for consideration as you reopen your church and make plans to gather again. You’ll hear from Rev. Terry Hord Owens, the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Dean Rocco, Attorney from Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP; Heather Kimmel, General Counsel of the United Church of Christ; and Rev. Joyce Lieberman, Executive & Stated Clerk from Synod of South Atlantic, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who discuss necessary policy revisions and liability concerns.
The training video “Reopening During COVID-19: Considerations for Church Leadership and Clergy,” is available to all Insurance Board participants at no charge with a total of 25 licenses available for viewing. The IB ID number is required for enrollment. There is also a companion video for staff and volunteers on “Considerations for Preventing COVID-19 in Your Ministry.” Participants will receive both versions once signed-up along with the COVID-19 toolkit. Member denominations may access the license to view the videos through our partnership with myCEcourse.com at a discounted price of $2.50. All other ministries may access the video for the low cost of $5.
Your house of worship serves three very distinct roles as an employer, a ministry and a landlord; your church must be mindful of these suggestions which are reinforced by each presenter:
DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOU:
- Check with your Federal, State, & Local authorities on any regulations that may apply to your ministry and re-opening.
- Make a COVID-19 plan to protect staff, volunteers and congregants.
- Check with the CDC, OHSA, Dept. of Labor, Equal Opportunities Commission and others for additional guidelines.
- Put your COVID-19 plan in writing and make it easily accessible.
- Train all staff on the COVID-19 response plan and have them sign off confirming their training.
- Monitor compliance, enforce the plan, and revisit any necessary updates.
There are also precautions you can take at your church when re-opening, such as:
- Place seating 6ft apart, or block off pews to encourage social distancing.
- Prop doors and windows open for better air flow through your sanctuary or host services outside.
- Eliminate greeting lines.
- Remove hymnals, and do not pass the offering plate.
- Require face coverings.
Overall, there are several factors to consider and risks to weigh when making the decision to return to in-person worship. We recommend leadership and clergy take the time to view the video, as well as offering the companion video to staff and volunteers on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We want our ministries to be prepared, and if you’ve already opened, there are still some key takeaways you may want to revisit about your current process. Insurance Board protects your ministry by offering resources to support it.
For information on how to access the video, visit: https://www.insuranceboard.org/reopening-during-covid-19-considerations/
Peace & Blessings.