Re-Opening Guidelines – Second Congregational Church of Palmer

There is much information to share with everyone about our planned reopening at 10:00 AM, September  13th and we hope you’ll take the time to read it.  The safety of our congregation is our highest priority, so we have been working to ensure that we meet the requirements established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, along with guidance from the CDC and the UCC.  Here’s what you need to know:

Advance Preparation

  • The church will be thoroughly disinfected before September 13th and from then on every week after services.
  • A seating plan has been established by blocking off some pews, sectioning open pews and adding seating in the Norman Room. This plan ensures that 6’ distancing is maintained and that we do not exceed the state’s mandated maximum seating requirements.
  • If you plan to attend services, you will need to make a reservation each week, during the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday, deadline being 8:00 p.m. Thursday, by calling Marsha Piepho at (413) 245-1111. Marsha will confirm when you call that seating is still available.  You will be asked to provide contact information in accordance with state and local requirements.  This is in case contact tracing becomes necessary.
  • All items will be removed from pews, including Bibles, hymnals, envelopes, etc.
  • Floors will be marked at 6’ distances to help remind all to maintain appropriate social distancing while in the building.
  • Everyone over the age of 2 will need to wear a mask. If you do not have one, or forget to bring it with you, we will have masks available.
  • Please do not come to church if you have been exposed to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

Upon Arrival At The Church

  • Doors and windows will be open to reduce touch points and improve air flow.
  • A number of hand sanitizing stations will be available for anyone who would like to use them.
  • You will be escorted to an assigned seat by a member of the reopening sub-committee.
  • Bulletins will be at your seat.
  • Please remember to maintain 6’ distancing while you wait to be seated.
  • There will be no hand shaking or hugging. Waves and smiles (although we won’t see them behind your mask) are welcome!

During Worship

  • Please keep your mask on throughout the service.
  • Offering plates will be placed at the entrances to the sanctuary; they will not be passed during the service. The plates will be sanitized each week.
  • There will be no choir or singing during our services for the time being.
  • When the service is ended, you will be asked to vacate pews from the back to the front of the church and to leave without lingering. Remember to maintain 6’ distancing as you leave.
  • In-person Fellowship Hour and committee meetings in the church have been discontinued for the foreseeable future.
  • As has always been our practice, do not laugh when the pastor attempts to tell a joke.

If Someone Becomes Ill With COVID-19

  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, we ask that you contact Rev. Bruce Prestwood-Taylor at 413-283-5206.
  • Per the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requirements, the local board of health will be contacted for further instructions.

This may seem very overwhelming.  If it’s too much for you, don’t worry, we’ll still be providing our services on MPACT, Facebook and the radio each week for those who wish to remain at home.  Don’t feel pressured to come back before you’re ready.

We’re looking forward to our first Sunday back together.  Hope to see you there!


The Reopening Subcommittee



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