In September the South Church Cabinet appointed a committee to investigate whether we might be able to offer in-person worship services. The committee has met to...
When is it (more) safe?
Wherever people gather there will be risk of COVID-19 transmission, and we must minimize risk to all participants. We must not expose our congregation and wider community to unnecessary risks caused by poor planning or negligence. We believe that modified worship services can be conducted safely when COVID-19 rates are low and stable, and we are using several tools to monitor the disease in Newport and surrounding towns.
What will it look like?
Modified worship services will be shorter and organized around prayer, scripture, pastoral messages, and instrumental music; they will not include vocal choir music, hymn singing, unison recitation, or passed offering or communion plates. Despite those changes, services held in our beautiful sanctuary will continue to offer a time for personal reflection and congregational worship.
How can it be done?
In order to meet safety guidelines, we must make several changes to our personal conduct at church — including how we enter and exit the building and how we greet others. Masks and distancing are required inside the building at all times. With spacing between alternating pews, we can accommodate up to 30 worship units in the sanctuary. A worship unit is 1-4 people in your household or bubble; total room capacity is limited to 80 people for up to one hour.* You must pre-register to reserve a pew and provide contact info for each person in your group. Registration details are still being worked out, but there will be online and telephone options.
Upon arrival, you will enter from the rear parking lot entrance, maintain distancing down the hallway (keeping coats and belongings with you), and check in at a registration table in the Fireplace Room where health status and temperatures are confirmed. From there, ushers will direct you to your pew — maintaining one-way traffic flow through the sanctuary; they will also direct your dismissal after the service. Casual conversation must be reserved for the parking lot after the service.
* The total worship capacity of 80 people has been estimated using the COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline developed at MIT and is a function of room volume, ventilation, air filtration, relative humidity, mask type & fit, breathing, talking, and risk tolerance.