Faith Time: The slow process of reopening churches

Faith Time

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Father Frank Busbey with Holy Spirit Anglican Church joined us via Zoom to talk about the procedures they went through to restart in-person services. Here’s a look at our conversation:

Anchor: How did you develop your plan for reopening?

Guest: In developing our plan I participated in several Zoom calls with our Bishop, Neil Lebhar, and other Anglican pastors on best practices for reopening. I also did online research. Then I consulted with our ordained deacon and key lay leaders in our church through Zoom calls and emails and we developed a detailed plan. Once we had a good plan for a Phase One reentry to Face to Face Worship we shared it with our congregation. We are requiring masks and asking people who plan to attend to email ahead so we can set up seating with 6 feet between family groups.

Anchor: What are things people need to remember to stay safer in an enclosed space like a worship hall?

Guest: Wear masks. Practice social distancing. Minimize contact with surfaces and wash and sanitize your hands. Be friendly at a distance, but avoid contact out or love and respect for the other person.

Anchor: Should people feel an pressure to return to in-person worship?

Guest: Absolutely not. I have been careful to stress in all verbal and written announcements to stress that if someone is in a high-risk group, is ill, has had contact with someone with the virus, or simply is not comfortable, they should stay home and continue to worship through our live cast. We are guaranteeing that we are doing all we can to create a safe environment, but we cannot guarantee anyone’s safety.

Anchor: The thing I’ve noticed as in-person worship services have resumed is that it hard to break people of the habits of hugging or handshaking when they see each other–how do you get that message across?

Guest: We have put statements about that in our plan and announcements. When we pass the peace – which was always a warm time of greeting and hugging, I state that people should stay in place and wave. We essentially only have the chairs that we are going to use out each Sunday, people are emailing their intent to attend. We are keeping 6 feet between seating for each family group. At the end of the service, we encourage people to leave and keep 6 feet between family groups. Clergy are sharing a greeting to everyone from the front at the end of the service and then going to the vesting room to change out of our robes. This way we avoid being a congregating point.

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