Now that places of worship can open to the public, you may have even attended your first service or two.
Whilst this may come as a welcomed and much needed easing of restrictions. For many, knowing how their local church group will deal with Covid-19 is important, as we know covid is still very much in our midst.
As property and planning consultants that specialise in the D1 sector this question directly affects us and our clients acutely.
There have been a few actions we feel organisations can take that will help ease people’s mind’s whilst ensuring they get access to their local church.
The first being a booking system this may be one that is bespoke to you or simply using Eventbrite. Your congregation can book seats for a specific service. This will allow the church to plan appropriately for number of people with adequate spacing in between chairs or marking pews so guests know exactly where to sit. Imagine x marks the spot in tape.
All this information can be provided well ahead of time via email or text message to ensure everyone knows what they are doing once they arrive.
Cleaning stations, I think these will become especially important everywhere in the coming months, particularly in locations where a cleaner on standby is not available. This will allow members to wipe down any surface areas before and after usage with tissues and disinfectant spray or disinfectant wipes. Disposable gloves may also be an option too.
Going back to the booking system point, this has many advantages as this may allow you to have multiple services depending on your congregation and building size. This will ensure members do not miss out and can have some semblance of their usual Sunday routine albeit at a different time.
In addition to this there are some things that will have to change or even stop for some time, this would be the sharing of bibles. Whilst the outside could be cleaned the individual pages would be very difficult. Ensuring you have highly visible screens located at the front or some smaller screens at intervals throughout the space would be helpful for newcomers who may not know songs as well as people who suffer from near-sightedness.
In the information that goes out to parishioners beforehand, advising them to bring their own bibles should they have one, would be beneficial.
Inclusion is key when attending church and not knowing the words to songs or being able to follow along when bible passages are being read out can be quite excluding. This period is a time where many may look for comfort and may find themselves attending church. The Church needs to maintain the familiar welcoming and open atmosphere where possible.
Hosting Holy Communion in churches around the world is part of everyday life for some, different churches have varying styles of administering it. But really, I can only see one way going forward, and that is the use of individual disposable cups and portions of bread. There are companies that produce this in one little package that can be thrown away afterwards, so I would really encourage any organisation to do some research into this. As taking communion is a really important part of the Christian faith.
I do believe things like water baptisms can be conducted; but would be down to personal choice. It may even be beneficial for ministers to be regularly tested to ensure they can continue their work in the community. They do work in a similar role to health care workers, whether it be attending people’s home’s for advice, or chairing christenings, burials and even weddings. All of which are important milestones in the lives of their parishioners and after having everything put on hold for so long, I can see why many would want to at least celebrate or commemorate those milestones.
It will be interesting to see how people’s faith, that is all about love, compassion but also community will find a way to shine through.
A light as bright as this cannot be hidden, especially not at a time such as this.