As the country appears to be slowly opening up, I am sure that you are wondering what the plan might be to resume “in person” worship at Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ.
It is a question that is occupying much of my meeting time, much of the time that we gather as community, and one that we are consulting many professionals about.
One thing that we can be sure about is this: now is not the right time.
Over the past few days, we have seen an increase in new diagnoses and this trend may continue as people venture out and take advantage of social opportunities.
We must do all that we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities are protected from infection.
To this end, this is the current plan:
I say CURRENT, because the landscape continues to change, and we must be nimble and flexible enough to adapt as well.
At this stage we will be waiting the decision of the County of Dallas when it next announces its lockdown position on May 15. If the order continues the “stay in shelter” rule we will follow these recommendations. If the order relaxes these orders, we will review as well.
We believe that there should be a minimum of 14 consecutive days in a decline in new cases before any “opening up” should occur. Should this be the case, we plan to implement a phased re-entry policy.
Phase 1 – We are hoping to have the full staff back working from the building at the beginning of June. We have a church staff of 25 and added to that the staff of Dallas Hope Charities and Hope Day School, and the children of Hope Day School. Together we are a large group, larger than many churches in the USA.
This will be a good beginning.
Phase 2 – Once we have had 28 days of declining cases without resurgence, we can resume in-person worship, and offer weddings and funerals with moderate social distancing protocols. We will strongly discourage vulnerable individuals from attending to protect them.
Phase 3: Once we have had 42 days of declining cases without resurgence, we can resume in-person worship, weddings and funerals with those regulated social distancing protocols, whatever they might be at the time. Fellowship may resume, and we will continue social distancing.
There are no hard and fast dates we can give you by which you can safely re-open, but I wanted to share with that we have a plan.
Of course, we will continue our on-line worship and connections, our small groups and our regular congregational care protocols throughout this time.
Here is how you can help:
· If you need something from us, please reach out and let us know.
· Help by being a minister of hospitality. Reach out to your pew mates that sit near you on Wednesday or Sunday, or whenever we gather in the church building, and check in on them. Let us know if there is anything we can do, or if there is anything you might be able to do for them.
· Connect with your small group, connect with the eFam on facebook, worship with us on facebook and youtube, on the many platforms that we have for connection.
· Be safe and stay well.
Your assistance is gratefully appreciated.
The church has left the building, and it has entered our homes. I pray that, together, as we get through this, we will be stronger because of it. I believe the best is yet to come, because I still believe in a God who is still speaking, and that we are the church of Jesus.
I am honored to serve as your Senior Minister, and I look forward to seeing you.
May God continue to bless us and keep us together.
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas,
Senior Minister, Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ