The South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church has released updated best practices for in-person worship and other gatherings given the COVID-19 pandemic.
This resource has been updated to reflect the latest guidance from public health officials.
The practices were compiled by a team of South Carolina United Methodist pastors and laity and affirmed by South Carolina Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston.
The new practices place a greater emphasis on what scientists now know to be the primary mode of transmission of COVID-19—airborne particulates—as opposed to surface contact.
The conferences urges congregations to remain vigilant in keeping themselves and each other safe and healthy until a vaccine is widely available.
The practices are as follows:
- Social Distancing: Individuals or households stay 6 feet apart.
- Spacing: No more than one person per 36 square feet.
- Masks and Glasses: Masks should cover mouth and nose. Consider eye coverings.
- Air: Outside is safer than inside. If indoors, use best filtering possible.
- Small Numbers: Safer than large numbers of people.
- Short Gatherings: Safer than long gatherings.
- No Singing: Of any kind: choir, soloist, congregation.
- Hand Sanitizer: Provided at all gatherings.
- Hand Washing: Continually encouraged.
- Communion: Use single-serve elements. Maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times.
- No Shared Meals: Distribute box meals for take-home.
- Restrooms: Use only for emergencies. Confined space + poor ventilation = unsafe.
- Vaccines: Strongly encouraged, when available.
- Flu Shots: Strongly encouraged.
The conference also encourages people to familiarize themselves with CDC guidelines for churches: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html
For information about what happens if someone in the church tests positive for COVID: https://www.umcsc.org/bestpractices.