Our Response to Covid-19

Update (June 4): Church Regathering Plan

After much prayer, discussion, and planning, the church staff and Administrative Council with the direction of our new Health Safety Team have arrived at a plan for regathering for in person worship and activities as a church family. We understand that how we are going to be able to do church over the next few months will be quite different than our normal activities; however, we are trying our very best to follow the guidelines provided by the CDC, state and local government officials, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, and our District Superintendent Dr. Brian Clark. (Please visit the North Georgia United Methodist Church website for more details on the Conference’s recommendations https://www.ngumc.org/covid-19-response-resources.) As always, our greatest concern is to create the safest environment possible for all who worship with us. Therefore, we plan to reopen the church building on Monday, June 22 and will begin in-person worship services on Sunday, June 28.
The following items are some changes you will notice immediately. These changes come as a result of the recommendations of the CDC, state and local government officials, and the leadership of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

  • We will have Worship Services ONLY, no Sunday School or Grow Groups for children, youth or adults.
  • Service times will be 8:00am, 9:30am & 11:00am. The 8:00am service will be in the Sanctuary with no communion. The Chapel is too small to provide for safe social distancing. We are encouraging some of you who normally attend the 11:00am Traditional service to consider joining us at 8:00am because of limited seating capacity at all our services and to help us maintain proper social distancing. Moving to 8:00am will also provide us with enough time to properly clean and disinfect the Sanctuary before people arrive for the 11:00am service. In addition, this will allow all of our services to be streamed online.
  • The Sanctuary and Worship Center will open 30 minutes before each service begins in order to properly seat everyone for social distancing purposes. (At first you will be seated by an Ushers or Host Team member. Families and those that live in the same household must sit together! We will also be dismissing each service in an orderly fashion and asking you to leave the Worship Center or Sanctuary one row at a time at the direction of the Ushers or Host Team.)
  • We will be offering Family Worship ONLY for the first phase of our regathering process; therefore, there will be No Nursery or Childcare provided during this transition period. (We welcome you to bring your child’s tablet, iPad or electronic device with headphones. We will email children activity sheets for you to print out before you arrive, and also have copies available here at the church.)
  • Ushers and Host Team members will escort you to a seat to ensure that we maintain proper social distancing of 6 feet. You will not be allowed to go and chose your own seat during the first phase of our regathering process. We will have markings for every 6 feet and ask that you keep that distance as you enter and exit the building.
  • Please follow all directional arrows and spacing indicators while in the building. When you enter the building you will see blue directional arrows and spacing indicator signs on the floor directing the flow of traffic to maintain proper social distancing. We are requesting that everyone please follow these directional markings and practice appropriate social distancing while in the building.
  • Restrooms will be opened but with a limited number of persons allowed in each restroom at a time. There will be extra precautions taken in the restrooms to provide for your family’s safety. (Please make sure that you follow proper hand washing practices and use the hand sanitizer that will be available throughout the building).
  • We will not hand out bulletins. Bulletins will already be placed in prearranged seating areas.
  • We will not pass the offering plates. We are asking that you place your offering in the offering plates or boxes you will see in the Narthex, Vestibules and the Stars Café. You can also give online or mail your offering into the church office. No pens will be provided.
  • There will be no choir at the 11:00am service. Congregational singing will be limited in all services to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, Hymnals and Bibles have been removed from pews.
  • Masks will be required to be worn in the building during the first phase of our regathering process. Please bring a cloth mask from home or masks will be provided at the church. (This precaution is being taken because of the increased spreading of germs that takes place during singing and congregational responses. We will continue to monitor this guideline to see if this requirement is still in place when we regather on June 28.)
  • Building access will be limited. For those attending the 8:00am or 11:00am services, access will be limited to the Narthex & Sanctuary. (Please enter the building by the Sanctuary Front Doors. Please use only the restrooms in the Narthex. The Women will use both the ladies and men’s restrooms; and the Men will use the restroom in the Bridal Suite. All restrooms will be properly marked.) For those attending the 9:30am service, access will be limited to the Stars Café & Worship Center. (Please enter the building through the Stars Café Main Entrance in the courtyard. Please use only the restrooms in the Stars Café.) Access to the Adult Education Wing, Gym, Choir room Hallway, and Church Offices will be locked to maintain sanitization and limit the necessity for disinfecting.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the building; however, you are encouraged to bring your own hand sanitizer as well.
  • There will be no Sunday morning snacks/breakfast nor fellowship time between the services. We ask that, once the service is over, you not linger in the building but exit the Sanctuary or Worship Center via the various marked exits. Also, any and all socializing must be conducted outside of the building. Please do not congregate in the Sanctuary, Worship Center, Narthex, Vestibules, Stars Café, Courtyard or Restrooms so we can maintain safe social distancing.
  • We encourage you to practice social distancing in the parking lot and park in every other parking space. (We will have parking lot attendants to help with parking. All Sunday morning volunteers will be encouraged to park in the back parking lot to create more spaces near building entry points. Remember there will be limited entry points into the building, so please plan appropriately.)

You will find an attachment to our Church Regathering Plan. This plan gives a brief overview of the various phases we will implement in order to follow the CDC guidelines, and fulfill the request of our Bishop and the North Georgia United Methodist Church Cabinet. As always, our greatest concern is your family’s safety! This guideline, while extensive, is meant to provide the safest environment possible for all those who join us for worship.

In order to accomplish that, we are going to need numerous volunteers to make our regathering plan successful. All areas will have to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between services to provide a healthy environment. We will need additional Ushers and Host Team members to help with seating and orderly dismissals before and after each service; and individuals to monitor and clean restrooms throughout the morning. If you can volunteer in any of these ways, please contact Pastor Ben Wilcox at ben.wilcox@bethlehemfirstumc.com. Our goal is to provide a healthy, safe and friendly worship experience for all those who join us.

Thank you for being so gracious, supportive, patient, and understanding during these difficult and trying times. As we work through this regathering process, our primary concern should be to continue to “do no harm,” just as John Wesley taught us, and seek to protect ourselves and our neighbors the best way possible. I know we are all looking forward to worshiping together again in person very soon, and I look forward to seeing each of you!