Covid Safety for Worship

During the coronavirus pandemic which started in the Spring of 2020, we began to take extra precautions to ensure that anyone attending a worship service is safe. In March of 2020, we suspended our normal 9:30 and 11:00 worship services and moved to a single Live Stream only service at 10:15. At the time, the pandemic was spreading and no congregation was permitted to attend this service.

But conditions are currently improving, and we are gradually reaching a “new normal” in how we protect ourselves from this virus.

This page outlines the current state of the pandemic and of our precautions. Welcome to church!!!

 

Refer to the “This Sunday” block in the right hand sidebar to see if there will be an in-person congregation this week.

 

How We’re Keeping Safe…

Since this pandemic started, we’ve constantly had to deal with questions regarding the safe use of our building. Should we require vaccinations? Should we require masks? Should we even hold in person events???

Our policy is simply to defer to the experts by following the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and State of NJ recommendations.

 

“Community Level” Recommendations…

At the end of February 2022, Health officials and scientists began to view the virus as being “endemic” instead of as a “pandemic.”  Instead of basing its recommendations solely on case rates and community spread, the CDC factored in hospitalizations and simplified its categories of recommendations.  Currently, they have established a three tier “Community Level”  system of recommendations.  The overall level of COVID-19 within a given county is described as “High,” “Medium,” or “Low.” Within each level is a separate set of recommendations regarding issues such as vaccinations and masks. 

To view our current “COVID Community Level” and recommendations, use the below widget (this is from the CDC website). For PUMC, select New Jersey and Gloucester County:

 

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For More Information About the Virus

County by County Data Tracker (from the CDC):

CDC Gloucester County

 

 

NJ Data Dashboard (from the State of NJ):

Data Dashboard:

The below graph from the New York Times loads faster than the NJ Dashboard…

NYT Gloucester County Cases

 

 

Going to Church!

Despite the virus, we continue to safely hold worship services by following the CDC and State guidelines. When conditions permit, here’s how we’re currently conducting “in person worship” in a way that keeps us all safe. Note that all of these policies are subject to revision as the state of the pandemic changes.

Our two primary defenses against the virus are:

  1. Vaccinations (Strongly Recommended)
  2. Masks (Follow CDC recommendations- see above)

Here is our current position regarding these two tools…

Vaccination

We recommend that anyone entering the Sanctuary be fully vaccinated against the virus.

If You’re Not Vaccinated…

Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated (or is choosing not to be vaccinated) must enter the church grounds with the understanding that they are taking on the responsibility of possibly being exposed to covid-19 by not wearing a mask (or by gathering inside where all may not be vaccinated).

Masks

Wearing a mask is optional if fully vaccinated. However, if unvaccinated, wear a mask out of respect for your well-being and that of your neighbors.

It is the prayer of PUMC to continue to try to keep everyone safe and allow for an environment which will be best for worship and fellowship. Thank you for your cooperation, patience, and support through these challenging and unprecedented times.

NOTE: The CDC currently recommends wearing masks for everyone when indoors (see above).

 

Welcome to Worship!

We welcome anyone to worship in our Sanctuary on Sunday mornings! Our vantage is more along the lines of “suggestions” or “guidance” as opposed to “rules” or “requirements.” The goal for everyone is obvious: Stay safe yourself while taking precautions to avoid any chance of spreading the virus to someone else.

Below are some of the specifics on how we’re currently operating during our worship services (and as applicable to the building use in general)…

Click/tap the tab to read more about each topic…

We recognize that the decision to be vaccinated is a personal one, and we do not “card” anyone to differentiate between the vaccinated and vaccinated. However, those who are have not received the vaccine must realize that they have a higher ability to catch and spread the virus.

Please read the warning box that’s above this “tab” box….

The vaccinated shouldn’t judge the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated should error on the side of caution when it comes to masks and social distancing.

The decision to wear or not wear a mask is left to each individual (we won’t enforce masks), but we expect everyone to follow CDC guidelines. We are currently requesting that everyone who is not vaccinated to please wear a mask whenever you are inside the building.

The virus is spread via nasal droplets, and so it is still important to keep a distance between others. Remember that it is possible that you or the person closest to you may not be vaccinated or that they may have health issues which make them more susceptible to the virus. Protect them and yourself by staying at least 6 feet apart.

In the midst of the pandemic, we stopped passing the offering plates through the pews to ensure “social distancing.”  But we are now passing the plates again!

We also offer online giving. Find out more by clicking this button: Online Giving

“Normally,” we serve communion at the altar rail, and the elements of bread and juice are arranged on the altar tables before the service.

But in this “abnormal” situation, communion will be taken in the pews using prepackaged “communion kits” This will ensure social distancing and reduce the chance of passing the virus. Instead of consuming elements prepared by our worship team, each person will be handed an individual “communion kit” when you enter the sanctuary. This “kit” is contained in a zip lock bag. It consists of a sealed container of juice (about the size and shape of a restaurant coffee creamer), and a wafer which is sealed by an outer layer of cellophane along the top of the juice container.

We generally celebrate communion on the first Sunday of each month.

 

Online Bulletin

A printer friendly bulletin is available.  Please contact the church office to be placed on the list to receive this bulletin each week via email.  Some printed copies of this bulletin are also available in the Narthex.

Additionally, an interactive online bulletin is provided on this website for each service.

The “online bulletin” on this website includes the Order of Worship and hyperlinks to Scripture Readings and Music Lyrics. Consider bookmarking this on your phone before coming to church (the URL of the bulletin page never changes; its content is updated each week. Once you bookmark it you can use it every week). You can open the bulletin with this button: Bulletin

Or (if you’re not reading this on your phone), scan the below QR code and bookmark the link on your phone:

Online Bulletin

 

Live Stream

We have been broadcasting all of our services on our Live Stream page since 2017. When the pandemic closed our sanctuary, the Live Stream capability became a lifeline which allowed us to continue to worship from home. Even when we permit a limited and “socially distanced” in person congregation, and as we return to a fully “normal” situation, the Live Stream will continue to be valuable worship connection.

 

Even when in-person congregations are permitted, every service will be broadcast over our Live Stream. We will continue to hold only one service, and it will begin at 10:15.

To “join” in worship from home, click this button: Live Stream

 

 

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For updates about Worship at PUMC, click this button: News