St. Mark UMC, Charleston Guidelines and Notes for Safe In-person Worship

As we prepare to return to in-person worship, we recognize that just as life does not look as it did pre-Covid19, neither does, nor will church-life a while. We need to understand this reality and be prepared for these differences as this virus remains a threat to our community. As disciples of Jesus, the Christ, we are called to love God and neighbor in all we do. As those shaped by the Wesleyan tradition, we do that in part by following John Wesley’s Three Simple Rule. The first of those rules is to “Do no harm.” This means that at times, we place the protection of others over our own ease, convenience, and sometimes even preference. We want to make sure we act in ways to keep everyone as safe as possible as we seek to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Returning to in-person worship is a personal decision to be made based on what is best and safest for each person and their family. It is okay to stay at home. The services will continue to be available online (Facebook Livestream and then posted on YouTube and website) with hardcopy of the services delivered to those without internet capabilities.

Therefore, the following guidelines and information are provided for our return to in-person worship so that everyone is aware of the expectations. These are based upon recommendations for faith gatherings provided by the CDC, SC DHEC, and the SC UMC Annual Conference.

  • If you are sick or have been running a fever in the past few days, we ask that you please stay home.

  • If you have tested positive and are in your 14-day quarantine, please stay home. If you have been around or in contact with anyone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 are still in their 14-day quarantine, please stay home.

  • Masks will be required. Be prepared to wear a mask all the time you are in the building. Please bring one if you have your own because our supply is limited. However, we will have some masks available for those who do not have one. If a person refuses to wear a mask, they choose also not to attend our worship service.

  • Please maintain 6-foot physical distance between yourself and those not in your household at all times. Please no touching, hugging, shaking hands, fist-bumping, etc.

  • Every other pew has been marked available for seating. Please use the outside aisles to sit along the window end of pews. With the physical distancing limitations, including the pews and chairs in the narthex the space will allow approximately 52 people for worship.

  • One Usher will have responsibility for creating a list of names and contact info of those in attendance. Please make sure this person has you best contact information, email or phone number. This is so that we can notify those in attendance if there is a new case Covid19 by an attendee in worship so that others may self-isolate or get tested.

  • The offering plate will be available for you to place your offering in either as you enter or exit. The offering plates will not be passed during the service. You may also continue to mail you tithes and offerings to the church office or give directly through your bank.

  • Please do not linger before or after the service in the narthex. Please go directly to a seat before the service. Please exit the building at the end of service as directed by the usher from back to front so that everyone maintains safe distancing after the service.

  • There will be no congregational singing, unison acts of worship, or unison prayers.

  • Only the sanctuary, narthex, fellowship hall, and restrooms on that end will be open. Only one person should be in the restrooms at a time. The preschool and office areas of the church will not be open on Sunday.

  • Announcement/prayer list sheet will be distributed on the pews before worship.

  • Hand sanitizer will be available in the narthex. It is a good idea for you to bring your own personal hand sanitizer. 

  • The hymnals, Bibles, offering envelopes, prayer cards have been removed from the pews. Offering envelopes and prayer cards will be available for those who need them.

  • The service will be shortened to decrease the exposure time to others in the confined space.

Approved by Church Council by consensus, August 20, 2020.