Many states have been practicing ways of reopening churches in a safe way. People are disinfecting the chancel area to prevent any possible spread of the coronavirus at Belmont United 'Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. According to UM News, on Sunday, May 10, bishops began setting guidelines, including standards for cleaning, and recommending what they think are appropriate times for the churches in their conference to reopen.
"required safety measures including limited attendance, no passing of offering plates, either no choir or a smaller choir spaced 6 feet apart, and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of every surface before and after the service."
"In a number of conferences, United Methodist bishops are telling churches not to meet in person even when the state government has approved small gatherings."
Some churches are ready for reopening, some are still waiting for in-person worship.
"The Rev. Jim Doepken, director of communications for the conference and pastor of Seward and Moose Pass United Methodist churches, said his churches are likely to wait until after June 15 before resuming in-person worship."
"It's not going to be like flipping on a light switch," he said, pointing out that each church will have a different set of questions to address, and differing levels of sensitivity between members ready to come back and others still hesitant to do so."
"We need it as comfortable as we can for people to return," Doepke said. "No church wants to be on the news as the place where a bunch of people got sick."
The state began a phased re-opening May 8 and some United Methodist churches in approved regions opened for worship several weeks ago. As many other conferences are continuing to suspend in-person worship, others are developing new ways and plans for churches to follow before reopening. As an outcome, many Christians are inspired to worship in churches as one.
"The worship service was very inspiring in the face of this pandemic," Lewis said. "They carried out the requirements correctly, and I felt very welcomed, comfortable, and safe."