COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 5.18.21
May 18, 2021
The CDC and Governor Cooper have issued new guidance regarding masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits for those who have been fully vaccinated.
In response, we offer these recommendations. One size does not fit all. Decisions appropriate for your church setting should be made by a team of shared leadership. Our vital churches are blessed with the presence of multiple generations, and regard for the vulnerable is crucial. Most services welcome children and youth, most of whom have not yet been offered a vaccine. Please bring your children’s ministry team and your youth ministry team into your decision-making processes and protocols, in addition to your Trustees. We encourage your Transition Teams to collaborate and communicate well.
- The Bishop and Cabinet remain committed to our biblical mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and our Wesleyan call to “do no harm.” Ministry encompasses not only worship but also fellowship events, mission activities, study groups, and age-level gatherings. The well-being of our children, youth, and vulnerable populations still needs to be considered with love and care in all areas of congregational life. Please take into consideration those who cannot be vaccinated because of age and/or pre-existing conditions when establishing safety guidelines for your local church.
- We encourage persons to be vaccinated and respect the fact that some cannot be vaccinated because they are immunocompromised.
- We believe it is appropriate for local churches to follow the CDC guidance and make mask wearing optional for those who have been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated is defined as being two weeks after the last dose of the vaccine.
- It is also very appropriate for some churches to continue to require masks for everyone knowing that some persons are not able to be vaccinated.
- Making masks optional requires trust. Churches should consider providing caution zones where people who want to wear masks can do so.
- We do encourage continuing to maintain social distance of three to six feet in between different households in indoor worship and fellowship activities.
- CDC guidance also indicates that fully vaccinated persons can sing in a choral group. However, wearing masks should be recommended for congregational singing.
- Food, snacks, and drinks should be served by masked and gloved individuals. Until the vaccination percentage increases, buffet lines are discouraged.
- Please continue to use the NC County Alert System and County Vaccination Percentage in making decisions regarding masks, social distancing, and gathering limits.
- The following graphic may also be helpful in making decisions for your local church and community.