Chelten Regathering Update

 

The last time that Chelten had an on-campus service was Sunday, March 8. Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the government social distancing restrictions that accompanied, Chelten voluntarily suspended all on-campus services and activities beginning the week of March 15. As we look to the possibility of social distancing restrictions being lifted in a phased approach in the weeks ahead, this is a plan to consider how we may safely begin meeting together again in accordance with remaining social distancing restrictions. This plan was developed by consulting the CDC, federal, state and local government regulations and sister churches.

The church of Jesus Christ has the high calling to maintain its unity given by the Holy Spirit. This takes everyone’s efforts, since our tendency is to go our own individual way. Our challenge is to sacrifice our own vision of the future for others who may disagree with yours. Our calling is to speak words of charity to those who differ. By doing this, we display the love and sacrifice that our Savior accomplished to actually buy our place in his church, God’s new community. 

 


 

The process of regathering is a complex situation, like aiming at a moving target, and will undoubtedly be adjusted as we proceed. There are no dates associated with the move from one phase to another and parts of this plan are intentionally vague because the amount of information is insufficient, at this time, to make accurate predictions and firm, detailed plans.  Chelten leadership will continue to evaluate this plan weekly and maintain open communication with the church family. Regathering will require wisdom, flexibility and patience on the part of all involved.

A number of factors will contribute to the decisions of when to move from one phase to another (in either direction), which will include:

  • Holy Spirit leading among the leadership at Chelten
  • Gating criteria established by the federal government – including:
    • Number and trajectory of COVID-19 cases and symptoms in our area
    • Capacity of local hospitals in caring for COVID-19 cases
  • State and local government regulations
  • Comfort and safety of Chelten congregation – assessed by continuing to receive feedback from congregation
  • Logistics, including building safety, sanitation and seating
  • Technological capabilities to simultaneously accomplish in-person and virtual worship services
  • Morale of church family

In each phase, we will seek to balance our biblical mandate to gather, to submit to the governing authorities placed over us by God and to love our neighbor by providing for the safety of everyone as we resume gathering. While the most vulnerable to the virus (elderly and those with serious underlying health conditions) may need to limit their interactions more than others, we will continue to think of our entire church family as we make our plans to safely regather as a church.

 


 

PHASE 0: Extreme Physical Distancing

Staying At Home

  • All on-campus services and activities remain suspended until Stay at Home Order is lifted and we enter Phase 1 of reopening.
  • Continue to produce video worship services to be viewed via YouTube.
  • Send church communication via eNews and letter.
  • Utilize online giving and mailed checks for tithes and offerings.
  • Seeds of Hope food pantry remains operational with revised food distribution model.

 


 

PHASE 1: Strict Physical Distancing

Group Gatherings  25

  • All on-campus services remain suspended for the length of Phase 1. 
  • Sunday worship services will continue to be available via YouTube, Facebook and church website www.chelten.org.
  • On site worship & recording teams—limited to ≤25 participants—may resume.
  • Home church model suggested as an option, but not required, for Sunday worship–groups of ≤ 25 meet at congregants’ homes to view Sunday service together.
  • Groups with  ≤25 participants may meet off site—community groups, men’s and women’s bible studies, youth small groups.
  • Groups are encouraged to offer a virtual attendance option—ZOOM, Facebook Meeting Room, Facetime, etc.—for participants not ready to attend in person gathering.
  • All groups are expected to follow CDC safety guidelines of washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks.
  • Increased sanitation and safety precautions already happening on church campus.
  • Utilize online giving and mailed checks for tithes and offerings. 
  • Chelten Child Development Center— CCDC—will form and execute their own unique reopening plan based on government restrictions and CDC guidelines.

 


 

PHASE 2: Moderate Physical Distancing

Back to the Campus 50% capacity

  • We will ease back into in-person gathering at 50% capacity, for worship during Phase 2.   
  • Sunday worship services will also be available via live streaming.                                                                                                 
  • We will use multiple Sunday services and allow for appropriate social distancing. 
  • Registration will be necessary to reserve your (your family’s) seat for Sunday service.
  • Services will be spaced out enough to allow for one group to leave and the next group to arrive without intermingling.  
  • The facility will be disinfected between services. 
  • Anyone inside the building will be required to wear a face mask. 
  • Those leading the service will wear a face mask when they are not speaking or singing. 
  • Participants should bring their own face mask. A limited number of masks will be available for those who may not have one.  
  • Participants will be encouraged to maintain adequate social distancing of at least 6 feet apart. This guidance does not apply to family members of the same household. 
  • There will be no children, youth or adult Sunday classes through the end of Phase 2. 
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be available. 
  • Continue to use online and mail-in giving. Also, provide an opportunity for folks to drop an offering in a bucket as they arrive for service. No passing of the offering plate. 
  • Ministry groups can choose to zoom or meet in person.  Outdoor meetings encouraged.  Indoor seating will be spaced out and capped. Refer to your individual ministry director for more information.
  • Special precautions will be taken for observing Communion.
  • Exterior doors will be propped open.
  • No refreshments will be served.

 


 

PHASE 3: Limited Physical Distancing

Back to the Campus 75% capacity

  • We will ease back into a more normal routine for gathering during Phase 3 at 75% capacity. 
  • Sunday worship services will also be available via live streaming.                                                                                                 
  • This may include resuming Sunday School, prayer meeting, weekly bible studies and some limited children’s and youth activities—i.e. nursery, children’s classes and youth group.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will still be available. 
  • Face masks may be required. 
  • Giving may still follow the plan for Phase 2. 
  • Special precautions will be taken for observing Communion.
  • Specifics will be worked out as we move through the phases and get closer to this point.

 


 

Resources

CDC COVID-19:  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

CDC Guidance for Communities of Faith: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/faith-based.html

PA Dept of Health COVID-19: www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

PA Governor’s COVID-19: www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19

“Opening Up America America” Federal Guidelines: www.whitehouse.gov/openingamerica/

 


 

Questions?

If you have any questions about Chelten’s regathering plan, please email [email protected].