Church In-person Gathering Guidelines

5/8/2020



Grace and peace,
In my last correspondence to the conference I promised I would send to you this week a resource to aid you in incrementally resuming in-person gatherings. I know organizations have tossed around the term “reopening,” but our communities needed to know that we were never closed—only gathering and continuing ministry through a different venue. So rather than referring to reopening congregations, I’m sending you guidelines on resuming in-person gathering. These In-person Gathering Guidelines have been created for you with considerations ranging from worship and small groups, to meals and funerals. They have also been thoroughly vetted and aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), White House and Mississippi Department of Health gating criteria, which has been categorized into three phases. In using these guidelines to navigate your local church’s resuming in-person gathering process, acknowledge what role your congregation’s membership size, demographics, surrounding community and other ministry contexts may play in your adaptation of these recommendations.

In-person Gathering Guidelines
Ink and toner-friendly black and white version PDF
Color version PDF
 
I cannot stress enough how it is paramount that you prayerfully discern the implementation of steps towards reopening. We’ll never know how many lives have been impacted and saved by our collaborative leadership of making sure the mission continues in ways that demonstrate love for our neighbors and ourselves with social distancing. We’ve come too far to turn around and let our shared sacrifice be in vain.
 
Thank you for your patience and adaptability. In the near future, I would like to offer you some administrative office policies for congregations that we will soon implement at the conference office. The goal of these new measures is to improve the efficacy and effectiveness of how we serve in our respective ministries.
 
Lastly, I want to remind and urge churches to continue your shelter-in-place on congregational activities through Sunday, May 31, 2020.
 
Praying for you daily,
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
 

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