Stage Two Protocol

Outdoor Gatherings, Indoor Weddings and Funeral/Memorial Services

Introduction

In preparation for beginning the stages of returning to in-person worship, Mount Olivet UMC created a Healthy Church Team (“HCT”) to prepare for the time when we are able to offer in-person worship. The HCT has decided that outdoor gatherings, indoor weddings and funerals/memorial services may begin now with safeguards in place. In this document, “in-person worship” refers only to weddings, funerals and memorial services. Outdoor gatherings is covered at the end.


The Bishop and District Superintendent have now stated that we are in Stage 2. We are following the directives in the Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) for local churches. This plan will be submitted to the District Superintendent at least ten (10) days in advance of the first outdoor gathering, indoor wedding or funeral/memorial service.


Registration for Events

  • All those who want to attend an outdoor event or in-person worship service must register with the church in advance. This will help determine capacity and other logistics. Any child who can comply with the requirements of this protocol may attend outdoor events and in-person services in this stage.


  • Each person must register at least four calendar days before the service or outdoor gathering so there can be adequate planning. For weddings, the couple will provide the guest list which will cover registration. For other gatherings, you may email (contactus@mtolivetumc.org) or call the church (703) 527-3934. Registration will be linked to the Health Acknowledgement Form (HAF) for each attendee. (See below.)


  • Registration provides the church with a record that can be used to follow up if someone tests positive for COVID-19 so that proper contact tracing can take place. It also allows the church to survey the persons who attend an in-person service.


Health Acknowledgement Form

  • Each attendee must review his/her own health using the Health Acknowledgment Form before attending an in-person worship service or outdoor gathering. Guests can register and provide information for the HAF on the church website www.mountolivetumc.com, the annual conference website https://www.evc.vaumc.org/open/worshipregistration/Page1.cfm (choose Arlington District) or by calling the church (703) 527-3934. The use of the online form is strongly encouraged versus the telephone process. Parents or guardians must register children under the age of 16. A verbal acknowledgement will be noted by the staff for those that can only complete this over the telephone. 


  • The HAF must be submitted no more than four (4) calendar days before the event and is valid for seven (7) calendar days after submittal. 


  • The Health Acknowledgement Form will be reviewed by Mount Olivet UMC clergy and it will be secured in a confidential folder in a locked file cabinet or other secure location. The Health Acknowledgement Form about a staff member, church member, guest, or vendor will also be available for review as necessary by the District Superintendent, the Cabinet, the Office of the Bishop, or the Chancellor. Also, the local church, District Superintendent, the Cabinet, the Office of the Bishop, or the Chancellor will cooperate with any federal, state, or local health agency that request the Health Acknowledgement Form or other health related information for legitimate purposes, including, but not limited to, COVID-19 contact tracing by the Department of Health. 


  • Failure to register and/or to complete the HAF will result in the person not being allowed to enter the church property, to participate in outdoor gatherings, or to participate in in-person worship. 


Facility Preparation Plan

  • The facility will be cleaned and sanitized according to CDC recommendations prior to and after the service. Disinfecting wipes will be available in the restroom outside the preschool. 


  • The church will have adequate amounts of cleaning and sanitization products that are confirmed to be effective against coronaviruses. 


  • All handrails, tables and chairs, bathrooms, and the back of pews will be disinfected.  


  • Between uses and worship services (if applicable) touchable and common surfaces will be disinfected.  


  • The AV and computer equipment will be cleaned and disinfected between services.  


  • Touchable items will be reduced in all areas.  


  • The water fountains will be turned off or marked as inaccessible. Unused restrooms will be locked and/or marked as unavailable.  


  • Doors will be propped open to minimize the reasons persons would touch common surfaces. 


  • Sanitizer stations are available but may be empty. Individuals should bring their own personal hand sanitizer.  


  • A limited number of face coverings will be on hand to dispense for those who arrive without one. 


  • Signs (inside and outdoors) will be posted that read: No one with fever or symptoms of COVID-19 or known exposure to COVID-19 in the prior 14 days is allowed to enter the building. Guests are expected to maintain at least 6 feet social distancing and must wear a face covering at all times until you get back into your vehicle.” 


  • The upper 16th Street North door will be marked as the entry. The Preschool Glebe Road door will be marked as the exit. Those requiring an elevator will enter and exit from the marked North Glebe Road doors and maintain proper social distance. 


  • Arrows on the floor will direct people to enter from the 16th St. side of the sanctuary and to exit from the 15th St. side. 


  • Seating arrangements will be marked and social-distancing instruction shall be given by greeters. People will be reminded to practice physical social distancing, hand washing, and not to touch their faces. 


  • Disposable gloves will be provided for greeters and staff only. 


  • Hymnals, Bibles, and all worship materials will be removed from the sanctuary.  


  • No choirs will be allowed.  


  • No in-person singing - including congregational singing – will be allowed.  


  • A digital bulletin and words for worship elements is an option.  


  • Services may be live streamed, for those who cannot attend, if previously arranged. 


  • Childcare is not provided. 


  • The balcony will be closed. 


  • No coffee or fellowship time will be held.  


  • Restroom usage is limited to the one outside the Preschool and will be clearly marked.  


  • No handshakes or hugging will be allowed.  


Greeter Training

  • Greeters will be recruited from either the wedding/funeral/memorial hosts family and friends or from the congregation. 


  • Greeters must complete the HAF and not be at high risk due to exposure to COVID-19. 


  • Prior to the worship service, greeters will be sent this policy and a video call will be set up to train them. 


  • Five greeters will be required for each wedding/funeral or memorial service: 2 at the 16th St. entry, 2 at the Glebe Rd entry/exit and 1 at the sanctuary entry. If one of the exterior entries is not used, 3 greeters will be required. 


  • Greeters must arrive no later than 1 hour prior to the worship service. 


Day of Service

For all attendees: 


  • Before leaving to attend the limited in-person worship service, each attendee must:  


  • Take their temperature. It must be less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in order to attend. 


  • If someone is feeling ill, they cannot attend. 


  • Bring a face covering with you, hand sanitizer (if you feel you need it), and gloves (if you feel you need them). Face coverings must cover both the mouth and nose at all times. 


  • If a person is not able to wear a face covering for any reason, the person may not attend. 


  • When arriving in the church parking lot, vehicles should be parked in a way to avoid contact with people leaving or getting into the vehicle to minimize the chance of violating the social distancing space with other people leaving or getting into their vehicles. Cars must leave an empty space on each side. Face coverings must be put on before you exit your vehicle and remain on until you return to your vehicle. 


  • Guests will be greeted outside the building by a greeter (observing proper physical social distancing of 6 feet or more) who confirm that the guest is on the registered attendee list and will ask if anything has changed with the Health Acknowledgement Form since submitting it and check that each person entering is wearing a face covering. For those who arrive without a face covering, Mount Olivet will have a few face coverings on hand. For those who failed to submit a HAF, one may be filled out at the door. The greeter by the door will inform a guest, in a considerate manner, that if they refuse to submit a HAF or wear a face covering they may not enter the building. 


  • A second greeter will meet each person inside the building (observing proper physical social distancing) to ensure the person is wearing the face covering; and make sure everyone wears the face covering the entire time on church property until they get back in their vehicle. 


  • No clergy, member, guest, or volunteer will be allowed to attend an in-person service if:  
  • They have two or more symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or 
  • They came in contact with anyone else with COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days; or  
  • They have symptoms of COVID-19 and are waiting for the results of a test or are waiting for the symptoms to subside to the point of being recovered; or  
  • They tested positive for COVID-19 and are still suffering from COVID-19 


  • Sanctuary capacity will be held at thirty-eight (38) family units. This does not exceed 50% capacity of the sanctuary and assures strict physical social distancing. The maximum allowable in the sanctuary in Stage 2 is 50 people. 


  • The pews will be marked for family units since family members who have been together the entire time are not required to be 6 feet apart. The front pews on each side will be marked for seating at the ends. Then a row will be skipped. And the process repeats. Rope or tape will be run down the center of each of the four sections of pews. 


  • Those who need to use the elevator will sit near the Gathering Space door to the sanctuary since they will be exiting in the opposite direction than the rest of the congregation. 


  • Families with children in attendance at a worship service should sit near the exits during the in-person service 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, if necessary. 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 will not end if a child has issues keeping the face covering on his/her face. 


  • If someone removes his/her face covering, they will be asked to put the face covering back on. If the person refuses, the service will be stopped, and everyone will leave. The person that violates the “mandatory face covering rule” will not be allowed back on church property until he/she agrees to comply with all of the requirements. The same is true for failing to abide by strict physical social distancing (staying 6 feet or more away from others). If someone fails to abide by the physical social distancing requirement, they will be asked to do so. If the person refuses, the service will be stopped, and everyone will leave. The person that violates the “physical social distancing rule” will not be allowed back on church property until he/she/they agrees to comply with all of the requirements. The safety of everyone is of utmost importance and we will not allow anyone to endanger the safety of our members, guests, and the community. 


  • These on-site requirements for any service or event officiated by clergy appointed to Mount Olivet UMC apply even when there is an off-site service or other event. 


  • For weddings, the clergy will remain at least six feet away from the couple, and wear a face covering. The couple and wedding party will also need to wear face coverings. The floor will be marked with masking tape where the wedding party is to stand. Special attention will be given to minimize the exchange of flowers, rings, etc. 


  • At the close of the worship service, the wedding party or family of the deceased will exit, then the clergy will direct the exiting of people – beginning with the row at the back of the front left section, then two rows in front of that, etc. Then the back left section will follow suit beginning with the front row, then two rows behind that, etc. Then the front right section will follow suit. Finally, the left rear section will exit. 


Emergency Preparation Plan

  • Room S-9 (former parlor) will serve as an isolation or holding room for those who are symptomatic or if a person has a medical emergency.  


  • Contact information for medical professionals and local public health authority, 911 address of the church, local emergency departments, will be posted in a visible place in the isolation room;  


  • If a volunteer is absent, the host family for the in-person worship will provide someone to stay with the person in Room S-9. The pastor will provide training as part of the greeter training. 


  • If an emergency occurs during an outdoor gathering, call 911 if immediate assistance is required. 


Outdoor Gatherings

  • All outdoor in-person gatherings will be limited to no more than 50 persons with 6-foot social distancing between all persons (excepting those who are in household groups) and face coverings. 


  • This section applies to all gatherings other than worship services, which have their own requirements above. 


  • The section (above) covering Registration and Health Acknowledgement Form applies to outdoor gatherings. 


  • The church will be locked and persons attending the outdoor gathering may not enter the building. No restrooms will be available for use in connection with outdoor gatherings. 


  • Vehicles should be parked in a way to avoid contact with people leaving or getting into the vehicle to minimize the chance of violating the social distancing space with other people leaving or getting into their vehicles. Cars must leave an empty space on each side.  


Staff & Vendors

  • Staff must complete a HAF every seven calendar days. 


  • Staff must wear face coverings when in the building and when attending an outdoor event. 


  • Vendors must complete a HAF no more than four calendar days before arriving and resubmit if they return after seven calendar days. 


  • Vendors must wear a face covering when in the church building. 


  • Prior to entering the church property, staff and vendors must report to Marilyn Traynham that they will be on church property and affirm that there are no changes to the information on the HAF. 


  • At departure, staff and vendors must report to Marilyn Traynham what areas and/or rooms they accessed. 


  • Staff and vendors must maintain social distancing of 6 feet or more.