On Reopening

This page is for Pastors and Sessions to weigh the myriad decisions before them regarding opening.

NEW: Use this link to go to the “Ohio Sentry” site used by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The map will detail current county trends of COVID-19 cases. This, along with previous guidance to be in contact with your local county health boards, will give you granular information about your county’s current situation.

County Trends as of May 21, 2020.

Click here for the document entitled “The Least of These,” which provides theological grounding for re-entry.

On May 20th, 2020, the following recommendations went out to Clerks of Session and Pastors:

We recommend the following process to consider in-person gatherings:

  • Determine the number of individuals that will be together in varying settings, including worship.
  • Continue to keep appraised of the current restrictions on group gatherings.
  • Once the permitted size of gathering is greater than or equal to the number of individuals that will be together, we recommend you wait three additional weeks before reopening in order to determine if there will be a “second wave,” and make necessary adjustments.

The time between now and reopening can also be a meaningful time to discern, and to imagine a new way to continue our mission in the Kingdom of God.  Additionally, we encourage Sessions to consider and answer the following questions:

  • What do we expect from worship as we return?
  • How do we continue to care for all members of our communities, including the most vulnerable? (Mt 25, I Cor 12)
  • What are our underlying emotions that we bring to these decisions?  Are there fears, anxieties, joys, or hopes?
  • What are our primary motives?  Remember our primary goal as a PCUSA church: The congregation reaches out to people, communities, and the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ, to gather for worship, to offer care and nurture to God’s children, to speak for social justice and righteousness, to bear witness to the truth and to the reign of God that is coming into the world.  (G-1.0101)  Please note that while financial concerns are important, they cannot and should not be a primary motive for reopening

Additional Resources:

For pastors, this document helps to think through how to begin conversations for re-entry into the worship space.

The PCUSA put forth a larger, 20 page document outlining varying ideas, including a guide for staged re-entry.

The Wisconsin Council of Churches was one of the first to provide guidance for re-entry. Their guidance is here.

The Florida Annual Conference of the UMC released a document for reopening which follows a similar theological approach as PSV’s The Least of These document. You can find that article here.

This document is a Scriptural survey with annotations to use as beginning points for Bible Study as Sessions and Pastors deliberate re-entry.

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