Back into the building
Kim Bames from Waltham Abbey Baptist Church shares advice for churches thinking about returning to their buildings
Where to start?
Talk to your church, get their feedback on their thoughts on coming back and talk through any concerns they may have. Communicate at each step, let everyone know your plans, how it will all work and what will be different.
Coming back is a team effort, so use the skills in your church to ensure you come back safely and everyone feels part of this new chapter in church life.
Ensure you know the latest advice and guidelines:
Regular updates are added in and dated. There are checklists available to support you and the Risk Assessments need to be reviewed and actions completed
Put a plan together
2m apart seating – draw up a seating plan for your church building, setting out a mix of seats for families, couples and individuals. Organise a way to book your seats each week. Put the correct signage at entrance and around the church to follow.
When you meet and greet people, explain where they have to sit according to the booking plan.
If possible, organise a one-way system around your church – mark out walkways for people to follow and block off rooms not in use.
Cleaning the church before and after the service (unless you can leave it 72 hours)
Have sanitiser at the entrance and exits and reduce the touch points, (keep doors open)
Wipe down high use touch points (rails on steps) anti bacterial cleaner and hand towels
Masks are required so provide disposable masks for those people who haven’t brought one. They are required except when you are preaching/leading prayers)
Avoid people moving around during the service
Music - Restricted number of people in the band. No singing – option of music videos being shown
No hugging or handshakes allowed
Do not pass the collection bag round, but have a collection box available at the exit
Encourage people to leave after the service and talk outside at social distance
Use your seating plan to record attendance for Test and Trace. Any visitors must register their details with you and be kept for 21 days and ensure new people complete the GDPR guidelines
We have more time for reflection in our services and prayer has increased. We have catered for the children by holding classes in a bubble held in the church grounds in a gazebo
We recorded a video to show church members what church is now like and what to do so there are no surprises! There should be NO pressure for people to come back. We are recording the service so those who are still at home do not miss out.
Kim Bames is the secretary at Waltham Abbey Baptist Church, Essex
This reflection was shared during the Small Church Connexion zoom webinar in September, where 47 people across the country gathered to share experiences of recent months - click here for the general report.
This advice complied with the guidelines at the time. As the article states, with the guidelines subject to regular change, please ensure you keep updated. The Baptist Union's Essential Coronavirus Guidance and all its updates can be found here.