Ebenezer UMC Reopening Church Plan

written by Healthy Church Team

July 2, 2020


Reopening for In-Person Worship Plan

The following information is provided as the plan for reopening Ebenezer Methodist Church under Stage 2. 

The requirements parallel those adopted by the Virginia Conference that are included in the UMC Handbook and Technical Assistance Manual (TAM); they have been adapted for EUMC.

Our return to church requirements will be presented to and approved by the Elizabeth River District Superintendent.

NOTE:  the requirements may be changed during the course of the VA UMC’s stage-2 as we encounter various scenarios and dependent on any changes adopted by the Virginia Conference.  These changes will be communicated to members via website and using other means of communication.


Ebenezer Healthy Church Team

Bishop Sharma Lewis ordered all churches in the VA UMC will create a Healthy Church Team (HCT) to prepare for the time when they are able to offer in-person worship. The HCT will provide advice and counsel to the lead Pastor and the Chair of Trustees, Church Council, and S/PPRC. The HCT should include representatives of the Trustees and the Hospitality/Greeters Team, the Pastor, a medical professional, a lawyer, and others as needed. The Healthy Church Team will coordinate with the pastors, staff, volunteers, and the District Superintendent on a number of issues associated with creating a plan for in person worship. Consideration should be given to preparing the building, accommodating worship to strict distancing (6 feet or more) and sanitation, and communicating plans with the congregation and community. Churches should determine their readiness, willingness, and ability to move to different forms of worship.


Ebenezer HCT members:



Won Lee

Church Council Rep.

Brian Webber, chair

Bob Patton, vice chair

Berni Harris, SPRC

Susan Terry, Finance

Aaron Roehrs, Trustees

Chris Keltner, Lillian Taylor, Peter Maytham

Lay Leaders

Bob Earl, Pat Powell, James Sorrentino


Jennifer Pitsenbarger, Teresa Woodworth, Connie Schau,

Sheila Smith

Worship Team

Connie Yow, Lee Morgan, Jackie Gehrig

Medical Advisor

Karen Jennette

Legal Advisor

Charles Neff



Ebenezer Healthy Church Team task forces are presented below by task and team members:


Facility Cleaning

Aaron Roehrs, Chris Wollesen


           / Logistics

Jackie Gehrig, Connie Yow, Andy Brooks, Sharon Hawkins


Susan Terry, Lillian Taylor, Lee Morgan


Brett Stoddard, Chris Keltner, James Sorrentino




Requirements for Attendees:  Before attendee leaves home to attend EUMC church service, they will be asked to:

  • Take temperature. It must be less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to attend worship
  • Bring a face covering and hand sanitizer. If you feel you need them, bring gloves. 
  • Be prepared to answer follow up questions about their health, if any


Each person who enters EUMC facility for a meeting or service at church must submit a Health Acknowledgement Form each week.

Children of any age who want to attend worship with their family may do so if they wear a face covering and remain with the family at all times. At this time, no childcare will be offered during services; nursery will not be open. 

COVID Positive:  Once learning of a person with confirmed COVID-19 who has been in the facility at any time, EUMC officials will send a letter of notification to the Virginia Conference and will notify attendees who were exposed; names of positive COVID persons will not be revealed.

Training:  Any member who participates in the Registration/Logistics procedures during a Sunday service must attend the EUMC HCT Training Session

Communications: We communicate with the congregation through mass emailing, social media accounts with Facebook and Instagram, website, and written communication. We have increased the frequency of messaging through all of the channels. All these communication strategies helped people be aware of the transitions that were happening and how they could still stay connected to us and God through it.  We stress the need to stay connected with each and to support our church.



General comments: 

  • Hymnals, Bibles, and other materials have been removed from the pew racks in the sanctuary.
  • Brochures and other materials in the FLC and Narthex have been removed.
  • Remove pew cushions in the sanctuary
  • Toys in both facilities have been removed
  • Restroom: Limited use of restrooms; maximum two people at a time

       (Note:  the restroom in the FLC next to the main entrance will be closed)

  • Water Fountains: All water fountains will be bagged and signs posted to not use
  • No passing of any items between non-family members
  • No food nor beverage will be offered nor eaten in either facility
  • No Sunday School


Signage of health guidelines

Signs will be posted in both facilities stating: “No one with fever or symptoms of COVID-19 or known exposure to COVID-19 in the prior 14 days is allowed in”

Signs providing public health reminders of social distancing, options other than in-person worship, and staying home if sick will be posted


Weekly Cleaning:

Before service and interim cleaning by our contract cleaners, Cleaning Team.  The Cleaning Team is responsible to ensure the following actions are taken:


  • Are cleaned, disinfected, floors are mopped, door handles are disinfected
  • Social distancing and handwashing hygiene reminders are posted


  • all railings, including the altar, doors (high touch points) pews are cleaned and disinfected
  • vacuum carpet


  • keep FLC kitchen closed and unused.
  • clean SEA kitchen and disinfect all common surfaces, sink and coffee pot, mop the floors, remove trash.

FLC/Offices & Classrooms in SEA:

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces, tables and doorknobs
  • trash removed

Exterior doors: 

  • Clean and disinfect door handles; clean glass on those doors that have glass

After-Service Cleaning: 

  • Common surfaces will be wiped down
  • AV and computer equipment will be wiped down

Pre-School / Day-Care: 

  • The Pre-Schools staff is responsible for cleaning according to the CDC/State guidelines




Pre-Registration Requirements:

Online Registration procedure:

  1. Conference created online registration / health acknowledgement form website for use. Our church members need to visit this link to register: https://www.evc.vaumc.org/open/worshipregistration/Index.cfm
  2. Following the website instruction, they need to select Elizabeth District, and our church name, Ebenezer UMC.
  3. Fill out name, contact information, and email. 
  4. Answer health acknowledgement questionnaire. Completed form will be sent to Pastor Won automatically. Only pastor will receive the information. 
  5. This online registration must be submitted by midnight Wednesday. 
  6. The submitted health acknowledgement form is valid only for 7 days which means people need to submit it every week if they plan to attend a service. 
  7. We will send the online registration link to our church members by email and also make it available at church website.


Offline registration procedure:  Accommodations will be made for registration for those individuals who do not have a computer nor access to internet.  A paper copy of the Health Acknowledgement form will be provided to people who do not have internet access. A Health Acknowledgement chart will also be available at the door and the attendee can attest to the Registration person that he/she is in compliance with the requirements.


Sunday Logistics:

Doors will open 20 minutes prior to service; pre-registrants will be advised to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the service to allow completion of registration activities.

Registration team members will be identified by a lanyard “Registration Team”.

A tent and a registration table will be set outside near the entrance. Attendees and Registration Team will be separated by a table.


Registration Team will ensure each attendee:

  • has pre-registered
  • meets health requirements
  • has mask
  • Registration table will be located outside the main SEA & FLC entrances


Registration Team will create a EUMC In-Worship Attendance Log that will include: 

  • Registration compliance record
  • Health Acknowledgement compliance record
  • Pre-entry Temperature check record


Temperature will be taken by the Registration person as people approach the door.

Mask required.  Masks must be worn in proper position from the time attendees exit their vehicles until the time they return to their vehicles.

Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers are available at the entrance to the SEA and FLC.

Doors:  The only doors that will be open are the main entrances to each facility.  All other doors must remain locked and unused.

Provisions will be made for anyone who needs handicap accommodation.

Attendees who do not comply with the precautions at any time during their time in church will be asked to comply.  If they continue to disregard the precautions, they will be asked to leave, and the church service will end for the entire congregation.



Maximum attendance at each service will be based on pre-registration and the mix of families vs. single attendees. 

Logistics Team will designate seating arrangement for both SEA and FLC based on pre-registration

Families with children should sit near the exits in case the child removes the face covering and will not put it back on. This allows a parent or guardian to remove the child from the service. The child and parent/guardian that leave the service cannot come back in the service once they leave over a face covering issue. The service should not have to end if a child has issues keeping the face covering on his/her face.

Families can sit adjacent to each other without social distancing requirements

Sanctuary (SEA CAPACITY =180)

50% CAPACITY = 90 people

FLC:  300 capacity

50% CAPACITY = 150 people

Capacity limits will include Pastor, musicians, children, — EVERYONE who is in facility.  Note:  Capacity must include 6 ft. social distancing requirements which may reduce the allowed capacity.





Prior to the opening date, a survey may be administered to determine who intends to attend in-person services.  The survey will be accompanied by an explanation of how the service will be conducted and other guidelines.

Worship Format:

  • Services will alternate between SEA & FLC; both will be held at 11:00 a.m.
  • Continue live-streaming on Facebook, YouTube and the church website indefinitely
  • First service will be a practice run; HCT will be asked to attend



  • No congregational singing
  • Praise band can play instruments but cannot sing
  • No wind instruments allowed
  • Choir cannot sing
  • Hymns will be included in service
  • Hum or talk along



  • Baskets will be placed in the common areas to receive the tithes and offerings
  • Offerings should be ready to be placed immediately in the baskets
  • No envelopes nor pens will be available



  • Communion will be offered in the FLC and in the SEA, respectively, the first two Sundays when we reconvene. Thereafter, it will be offered at Pastor Won’s discretion
  • Only pre-packaged communion elements will be used
  • Pre-packaged gluten-free elements will be available
  • Communion table will be prepared by volunteers using gloves and face masks
  • Pre-packaged Communion elements will be on the Communion table during the service and Communion liturgy
  • A loaf of bread and cup of juice will be on the Communion table and will be visibly blessed, broken and lifted by the Pastor.
  • The Communion table will be at least 6 feet from where attendees are seated
  • The Pastor will wear gloves and face mask/covering
  • Following the consecration of the elements, the pre-packaged communion elements will be moved to a table near the exit for attendees to receive as they leave. A tray will be used to move the elements from the communion table so they are not touched.
  • Worshippers will pick up the pre-packaged communion elements as they leave the worship area
  • Before partaking of the elements, worshippers should practice good hand hygiene.
  • Worshippers are invited to partake of the elements once they are in their cars, where they can safely remove their masks. Packages can be disposed of at home.
  • If worshippers cannot practice safe hand hygiene or are not able to open pre-packaged Communion elements in their cars, they are invited to do so at home
  • Worshippers may take consecrated elements to members of their immediate household who are unable to attend worship, as an extension of the Lord’s Table.


Bulletins/Programs:  All will be sent electronically or shown on screens

Dismissal: Pastor Won will direct congregation to sit immediately following the benediction. All attendees will be ushered out.




Task Force responsibilities:

  •  Chair will prepare schedule for Technology member coverage for each service
  • Arrange for Facebook, You Tube and website streaming each Sunday
  • Record trial run service