Trinity’s Reopening Plan

Dear friends,

Trinity’s leadership has drafted a tentative plan to reopen our building and to prepare for when we can meet, talk and worship together again face-to-face.  We are looking forward to the day when we are able to worship together again!  We know that the church is built on relationships, centered on the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

At the same time, is is imperative that Trinity has a plan to safely reopen, and to protect the safety of God’s people.

The congregational council reached consensus on this plan on Sunday afternoon.  The plan is in five stages. The criteria used to develop this plan include:

  1. Fulfilling the mission to which God has called us (“Through Jesus’ love, we welcome, connect, learn and serve”).
  2. The safety and well-being of our congregation and community.
  3. The desire of our congregation to be “together” again.
  4. The stability and sustainability of the congregation

Data used in developing this reopening plan has come from the Governor’s office, the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC, the synod office and the ELCA, as well as best practices from other large ELCA congregations.

Except for stage 1, we do not yet have specific dates or even triggers for each stage. The timing for shifts from stage to stage will be informed by limitations and dates set by the Governor, the State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. So this plan is subject to change.

We also recognize that stepping in to these stages might be a “back and forth” process. Depending on recommendations, we may need to move backwards before moving forward again.

Stage 1

Effective June 1, 2020, the Trinity office will reopen.

  • Administrative Assistant and Administrator will work out of the main office
  • Other staff will be in the building only as needed
  • Volunteers for food ministry in and out as needed
  • Otherwise, building still closed and unused areas that have been sanitized will remain sealed off
  • worship will continue via live-streaming
  • Members of our community are encouraged to continue personal preparedness, by washing hands, avoiding touching our faces, etc…
  • Physically vulnerable individuals are strongly encouraged to stay home
  • Staff will be expected to wear masks when interacting with others in close proximity
  • The staff will create team to set expectations and a process for moving to Stage 2
    • The staff will continue to consult with local medical experts as we move forward, and the staff will make the decision when to move to stage 2

Stage 2

  • Trinity’s building will reopen on a limited basis
  • Adult small group meetings allowed, up to Governor’s limits on group sizes & social distancing
  • Trinity’s meeting rooms will be sanitized immediately after use
  • Public spaces (narthex, restrooms, etc…) will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis
  • Visitors in the building are strongly encouraged to wear masks as they interact. Masks will be available at the building entries
  • Members of our community are encouraged to continue personal preparedness, by washing hands, avoiding touching our faces, etc…
  • Physically vulnerable individuals, or those who are showing any kind of symptoms are strongly encouraged to stay home
  • While staff may continue working from home, they are also welcome to work in their office space
  • Staff will be expected to wear masks when interacting with others in close proximity (as per the Dept. of Health recommendations)
  • Trinity’s building hosts resume work on evenings when there are groups scheduled
  • Trinity’s staff will create a team to set expectations and process for Stage 3
    • We will continue to consult with local medical experts as we move forward
    • Trinity congregational council and staff will make the decision when to move to stage 3

Stage 3

  • Face-to face worship resumes (within the limitations of group size & social distancing set by the Governor)
    • We will possibly split worship into 2 locations and/or times for social distancing (Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall)
    • Communion is served using strict safety protocols
    • Hymnals and Bibles will be removed from Sanctuary. Instead, we will print all necessary materials on paper for one-time usage.
    • Congregational singing would depend on current recommendations from MN Dept. of Health
    • We will receive our offering in plates set by the doors, to avoid passing the plates.
    • Children are welcome to worship with their families
      • Nursery care will not yet be available
    • Those who are physically vulnerable to the virus are asked to continue staying at home and worshipping online
  • Members of our community are encouraged to continue personal preparedness, by washing hands, avoiding touching our faces, etc…
  • Staff will be expected to wear masks when interacting with others in close proximity (as per the Dept. of Health recommendations)
  • Other large events in the building may resume (within the limitations of group size & social distancing set by the Governor)
    • Food service for these events will not be available yet
  • Weddings and funerals can resume (within the limitations of group size & social distancing set by the Governor)
  • Sunday school, Trinity U and confirmation resume (within the limitations of group size & social distancing set by the Governor)
  • Trinity Nursery School can resume face-to-face programming (within the limitations of group size & social distancing set by the Governor)
  • The staff will create a team to set expectations and process for Stage 4
    • We will continue to consult with local medical experts as we move forward
    • Trinity staff will make the decision when to move to stage 4

Stage 4

  • Large events that include food service may resume
  • Wednesday night dinners may be served face-to-face
  • Meals of Hope may be served face-to-face
  • Sunday morning donuts and coffee resume
  • The staff will create team to set expectations and process for Stage 5
    • We will continue to consult with local medical experts as we move forward
    • We will continue to seek input from other community organizations (Owatonna School District, other congregations, etc…)
    • Trinity staff will make the decision when to move to stage 5

Stage 5

  • Trinity’s programming will resume as normal
  • Nursery/childcare available during worship

We are excited to see everyone again.  In the midst of this planning, however, we need to acknowledge that the world has changed, and that even when we are past this health criss, our ministry will have moved into a new stage.  And while this creates some uncertainty, and maybe even anxiety, we remain firm in our believe that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Not life, nor death, nor angels, nor rulers…” nor Covid-19, nor quarantine… “nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39)

We don’t anticipate simply moving back to “what it was,” rather we look forward to a new and stronger future.

Thank you for your patience.  Thank you for your commitment to the wellbeing of others in the community, and thank you for being the church, wherever you are.

Thanks be to God!
Pastor Todd

 

4 Replies to “Trinity’s Reopening Plan”

  1. Thank you for this! A great tool for smaller congregations. How did all of this come about? Did the church leadership (Pastors, Council, employees) meet to discuss and brainstorm? Or did one person put together the best practices and it led to discussion? Thanks for any feedback.

    1. Hi Veronica. I wrote up a draft, using resources from the state, the ELCA and the synod, and then our pastors met and did some editing together, then our staff team leaders did the same. Then it went to council for discussion, some small edits and approval.

  2. So glad that you have given us a great way to worship each week. Will be glad when we can safely be together but hope we don’t hurry into it and wish we hadn’t. I think you have laid out a good plan forward

  3. I can tell a lot of work went into this as it seems very complete and ready. Thank You to you, Pastor Todd, and all others who were a part of this. Your work is appreciated.

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