Church Covid-19 workarounds

Sparked by this exchange over in Purgatory:
Galilit wrote: »
Gramps49 wrote: »
Today I have been coaching our pastor how to video stream services all day.

Pretty quick on the uptake is he/she?

We already have a lively thread on Communion and Covid-19 that includes both practical and theological aspects.

As gatherings of more than a few people are becoming prohibited all over the place, the aim of this thread is to discuss churches' other practical and technical responses to being church when it seems we must "give up the habit of meeting together" (Heb 10:25)!
«1345678

Comments

  • On this topic, a number of video conference SaaS providers have temporarily lifted some of the restrictions on their services which may make them useful for this purpose. I’m thinking of webex in particular.
  • If you have folks who can’t stream, especially perhaps older people, setting up teleconferencing to do small group worship might be a goer (sort of like a bible study set up, with people in groups of 6 or so).
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited March 13
    I am part of the AV team at our Church. We already record all our services (audio) but it would be quite easy to live stream video too.

    I suspect it’s not long before services are cancelled altogether, so we are looking into having our Minister connected from home.

    Maybe Church of Fools needs to be resurrected?
  • Boogie wrote: »
    Maybe Church of Fools needs to be resurrected?

    This is apparently not a technical option with our current platform.
  • For our place streaming options wouldn't be an option. If half the congregation have the ability to receive streamed services I'd be surprised. And, we don't have any infrastructure to stream services anyway - I suspect a single service would exceed the monthly data allowance on my phone. If we had a small group gather in a home for a streamed service we might as well gather together anyway.

    We have made some small changes for Sunday, continuing until the situation improves. Advice that anyone who feels unwell stays at home. Have a collection plate at the sanctuary entrance rather than being passed around the congregation (so people don't keep touching it). Asking people not to shake hands, and not be offended if the minister refuses. We won't be using the common cup, and will have a dozen wee cuppies set out for communion. Not sure what we'll be doing re: hymn books yet.
  • What Alan's church is doing is very similar to what we're doing. We certainly couldn't do live streaming although I might be able to do something simple from home. My feeling is that the risks presented by attending church services are no greater (and possibly less) than those presented by ordinary activities such as shopping, using public transport or going to the theatre. But I'm not an epidemiologist!
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 13
    AIUI the risks are: staying together with the same people for an extended period of time; secondarily, having kids mingling (Macron invoked children as being high-transmission vectors even though they are not usually seriously ill). Looking at the closure of all schools from Monday on these grounds, I'm struggling to defend Sunday School this Sunday. And I turned down a Christmas gift rock concert on March 3 to avoid becoming a potential spreader from people I wouldn't otherwise mingle with.
  • Our Place's situation is similar to those of @Alan Cresswell and @Baptist Trainfan - streaming isn't a viable option for us, but we are taking all the recommended precautions.

    Re hymn books - it is usually I who gives out hymn/service books these days, so I have a vessel of hand-sanitizer at the ready on the book table, which vessel I will use as I hand out the books.

    Or would it be better simply to ask people to pick up their own book(s)?
    :confused:
  • AIUI, the problem with books is that they provide a surface for the virus to persist on. Sanitising your hands reduces the chances of you getting the virus onto the book (should you be infected without knowing), if the person you hand it to is infected then they also need to have their hands sanitised before they take it, and not touch their face during the service, otherwise they will hand a potentially contaminated book back at the end of the service. At the next service that will be handed out again to someone else, with a risk of spreading the virus regardless of how well the person handing out books cleans their hands. I don't know how long the virus will survive on paper, if it's less than a week then that should be OK for a place with a single service per week; if you have multiple services maybe you need to split your stack of books and not keep handing out the same ones (assuming the number of books is sufficient that you only need less than half for each service).
  • Is simply not going considered. Social distancing of 1 metre (39 inches) is probably not practical. Just go on hiatus.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Our Place's situation is similar to those of @Alan Cresswell and @Baptist Trainfan - streaming isn't a viable option for us, but we are taking all the recommended precautions.

    Re hymn books - it is usually I who gives out hymn/service books these days, so I have a vessel of hand-sanitizer at the ready on the book table, which vessel I will use as I hand out the books.

    Or would it be better simply to ask people to pick up their own book(s)?
    :confused:
    In the States, books are usually already in the pews/seats, usually in a rack on the back of the seat in front. Would it be better to have someone (whose hands are clean or who is wearing gloves) go ahead and distribute books in seats throughout the church, so that at the service the only person handling it is the person using it? They can leave it there at the end of the service. This is presuming just one service; this likely wouldn’t work for multiple services.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    It is currently not known how long the virus persists on surfaces. It may be anything from a few hours up to 9 days.
  • Is simply not going considered. Social distancing of 1 metre (39 inches) is probably not practical. Just go on hiatus.

    If people are part of a church, it's because they feel part of a community. Effectively disbanding that community, even virtually, is irresponsible towards a flock, I feel.

    (Heard here: "there's plenty of stuff online already, why bother to provide more?").
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 13
    Thanks for comments re books. As it happens, we can probably split the hymn/service books required into two separate sets, to be used alternately - we have just the one Sunday service where books are needed, those who attend weekday Mass mostly knowing the words off by heart.

    I (and my assistant sidesman) will sanitise our hands before handling the books, but it is not, I think, a practical proposition to place the books in the pews beforehand, Good Idea though it is. Our people attend so irregularly that it is hard to say who will be in the church, and where they'll be sitting, on any given Sunday...
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Is simply not going considered. Social distancing of 1 metre (39 inches) is probably not practical. Just go on hiatus.

    If people are part of a church, it's because they feel part of a community. Effectively disbanding that community, even virtually, is irresponsible towards a flock, I feel.

    (Heard here: "there's plenty of stuff online already, why bother to provide more?").

    This.

    In fact, it would be possible for everyone in our little congregation to sit at least a metre apart, though families and couples might find it a bit odd, IYSWIM.

    It's all a bit of a challenge, no? Doubtless the General Ingenuity of Humming Beans will find some interesting ways of meeting that challenge!
  • There's a funeral announcement which will be updated if it will be postponed here.

    Which may seem extreme but if like many places ours older adults who are most likely to attend both funerals and Sunday services, it's probably irresponsible not to consider everything.
  • All gatherings of more than 100 people are now prohibited in France, and funerals are already restricted to the immediate family in several areas.
  • In fact, it would be possible for everyone in our little congregation to sit at least a metre apart, though families and couples might find it a bit odd, IYSWIM.
    And, pointless for anyone who travelled to church in the same car, live in the same house etc. The benefit of 1m isolation is if that's between groups who aren't otherwise in close contact - a family group sit together, but just separate from another family group (ditto for eating out, groups can sit and eat at the same table but that table would be 1m+ from other tables)
  • Yes, that's sort of what I meant by 'a bit odd', but you put it much more clearly!
    :wink:
  • TEC Dioceses of Chicago and Indianapolis have suspended services.

    Basically "please keep your ministries serving the needy (in whatever way) going with appropriate precautions to minimize transmission, but worship at home.
  • I don't think that's happened here (yet) in the UK, as the latest email from my Diocesan Bishop refers to the Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass still going ahead (with precautions), BUT with a rider to the effect that the situation is changing daily...

    Maybe more use could, and should, be made of the C of E's online link to Daily Prayer:
    https://churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-daily-prayer

    By this means, the Faithful with internet access can be kept in touch with the prayers and readings for the day/season, even if they can't physically get to church. Not the same as receiving Communion at Mass/Eucharist, I know, but...
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Our Church is now closed, all services, groups and activities.

    The minister has a cough and is self isolating, so our AV plans are not happening.

    The best laid plans of a/v teams and men ...

    🤔

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    I note the Australian government is ruling that after Monday no gatherings of more than 500 will be permitted. I suspect there will not be many Anglican churches affected :mrgreen:
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 13
    @Boogie - sorry to hear it. Sounds a bit draconian...but needs must, I suppose. Better to be safe than sorry.

    This may be a silly question, so please bear with me, but are there other local churches still open, which you could attend if you wished, taking the recommended precautions, of course?
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I’m in Germany just now, but I’m sure there are. 🙂
  • I've spent much of the day printing copies of a simple "Morning prayer at Home" service booklet and list of the lectionary readings for Sundays until the end of May, to give to my folks who feel the need to self isolate. I'm happy to email it to anyone who PMs me an email address.
  • TEC Dioceses of Chicago and Indianapolis have suspended services.

    Basically "please keep your ministries serving the needy (in whatever way) going with appropriate precautions to minimize transmission, but worship at home.

    The local Catholic Bishops have also done something similar. Regular Sunday Mass is suspended, and there's a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass.
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    The National Cathedral in Washington is broadcasting their Sunday Eucharist, with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaching (remotely). I don't know if they're having a live congregation. If I felt unable to attend my own church I would watch this and participate from home.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Is simply not going considered. Social distancing of 1 metre (39 inches) is probably not practical. Just go on hiatus.

    If people are part of a church, it's because they feel part of a community. Effectively disbanding that community, even virtually, is irresponsible towards a flock, I feel.

    (Heard here: "there's plenty of stuff online already, why bother to provide more?").

    Sorry, but I could not disagree more strongly. I called my fragile 84-year-old mother up last night and begged her not to go to church for the foreseeable future. And then today I called the friend who takes her to church and begged her not to take my mother to church, with more success. If the church would just tell her not to come, maybe I could get more sleep.

    The church I work for will stream the service this Sunday on Facebook and YouTube, with just a small group of people making this happen in the room where we can best plug into wired internet. The congregational care committee is stepping up efforts to keep our more fragile members connected via phone, and they'll match anyone who asks with another member of the congregation who will check on them regularly, do grocery runs, stuff like that.

    One size does not fit all, obviously, but there are ways to minister to people without gathering them all together to share a virus that is so deadly to older folks. It's irresponsible to not consider other options.
  • You misunderstand me.

    I think conventional church should stop as of now, but I don't think that means the church should simply cast its congregation off and hang a "closed" sign outside, which is what I took "hiatus" to mean above. The challenge is how to "be" church in this strange new paradigm and first and foremost for those who are the most vulnerable and excluded by age, health, the digital divide, etc. How shall we sing the Lord's song in this strange land, with an emphasis on the we?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited March 13
    I don’t know of anyone just stopping things at church, at least around here, @Eutychus. Our approach is very much like what Ruth described—suspending services and in-person meetings (the “chancel crew” will be there Sunday and the service will be streamed), while at the same time looking for extra ways to connect and reinforce community, care for those who feel isolated, etc.

    As the email sent to the congregation today said: “There are two threats that we are taking very seriously. One threat is to public health, especially those who are most vulnerable to this virus. The other threat, which is less tangible, yet every bit as important, is to the fabric of our community, our sense of connection, compassion, support and care.”

  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 13
    @Nick Tamen the comment of mine to which @Ruth responded was in response to one by @NOprophet_NØprofit which suggested the church "just go on hiatus" rather than change any practices.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    @NOprophet_NØprofit can speak for himself, but I didn’t interpret his comment to mean disbanding community altogether. Given that he started with “Is simply not going considered,” I took him to mean individuals going on hiatus from attending, or at most hiatus of public gatherings.
  • Ah, sorry. I was reading that from the perspective of somebody involved in the decision-making about having meetings, not from the perspective of somebody considering whether or not to go.
  • Yes that was my thought. unless it is possible to do morning prayer in a very large church sitting 1 metre apart and all arriving and leaving at intervals which respect the social distancing.

    I live in a province where internet is a public utility and actually available free in the downtown. If it was wanted to stream on Wi-Fi, the internet has no caps for bandwidth. Only cellphone data. The trick would be setting up viewing. I don't know how GoTo Meeting, Zoom and the like work for broadcast. I've attended virtual meetings of up to 200 as a participant. The viewer simply goes to a website or dials a phone number and enters a code number. In that medium the host sees who is online or dialed in, and can read typed comments and questions. I wonder how that would go for sermons.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Eutychus wrote: »
    You misunderstand me.

    Yes, I did! My apologies. We are very much on the same page.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited March 14
    Is simply not going considered. Social distancing of 1 metre (39 inches) is probably not practical. Just go on hiatus.

    Not a problem with Anglicans once you ban the exchange of the peace as that is about as close to one another as they like to get!

    We are not doing much yet other than suggesting to those that are unwell that they should stay home, and encouraging everyone to wash their hands often. I have strongly suggested to those who receive on the tongue that they should receive in the hand for the time being. Common Cup remains in use, but those who are particularly worried have permission to receive in one kind.

    I shall be consuming Anglican backwash as usual.
  • I would have thought receiving on the hand was more likely to be an infection source than receiving on the tongue.
  • CameronCameron Shipmate
    I would have thought receiving on the hand was more likely to be an infection source than receiving on the tongue.

    It gives the person administering more chance of unwittingly coming into contact with bodily fluids which they then unintentionally pass on to subsequent persons.

    The same advice not to receive on the tongue has been issued in past flu seasons too.


  • Ruth wrote: »
    One size does not fit all, obviously, but there are ways to minister to people without gathering them all together to share a virus that is so deadly to older folks. It's irresponsible to not consider other options.
    As one size doesn't fit all, responses will need to relate to local situations. Here, with less than 100 confirmed cases in the country the risks are very low - which, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't take sensible precautions. The question is "what is sensible?", recognising that the answer to that next week may well be different from today. Our less than 100 confirmed cases could very plausibly be 1000 infected individuals, calling it 10,000 may be appropriate - that's still 0.2% of the population, if equally distributed in the country about 150 people in the town, and assuming every church attendee is in close regular contact with 50 people that group of members+acquaintances could include 1 infected person. Less if we recognise that (85 confirmed cases would be less than 10,000 in total, and that close contact with 50 people is a large number - I work, and only regularly meet with 30-40 people, including those I meet at church).

    The question for whether to hold services is a balance: On one hand, we have an elderly congregation and meeting on Sunday is an important part of their social network; when the elderly are already quite socially isolated, it's not good to cut another chunk of their social network. On the other, there's a small risk that someone in the congregation knows someone who has contracted the virus (a risk that will increase over coming weeks), a small chance that the virus will have been passed onto the member of the congregation*, and a small chance that they will pass that onto someone else in the congregation, and finally a small chance that that member will suffer serious complications. At present our church (and the other local churches in our joint pastorate) have decided to continue with our normal service schedule while taking practical steps to significantly reduce the risks of transmission between church members during the service - asking everyone to wash hands on arrival and before leaving (or, using gel if the minister has managed to find some), asking people to refrain from the usual handshaking and hugs when they arrive, wiping down all surfaces (door handles etc) hymn book covers etc before and after the service, stop using the common cup and space out the chairs a bit more to allow me (as server) to hold the plate and tray of cups to each member so that they don't hold it as it's passed down the line, not passing the collection plate (so no one has to touch it). But, we're not stopping meeting together completely. We have a joint service of all three churches at the end of the month, which will mean a congregation 3-4x larger than normal, we've yet to make any decisions about that (there are several weeks to go, no need to rush).

    * present evidence suggests that the average number of people who will contract the virus from a single infected individual is 3-4. How many people only meet 3-4 other people in a couple of weeks? For most people, the number would be much higher, if that's 30-40 people they meet then only 10% of people they meet will be infected.
  • Now is the time for you all to (re)acquaint yourselves with the joy of Choral Matins :grin:
  • We'll be doing much the same as Alan, though (after consultation) the Scout and Guide Parade Service for a fortnight hence has been cancelled.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    @Alan Cresswell : It does seem that scale is the thing we're talking about.
    California has 247 known cases in a population of 40 million, and we know they're not testing nearly enough people. Schools in all the state's metropolitan areas will be closed starting Monday. The state is saying groups of more than 250 should not meet. So the senior minister convened a task force made up of two doctors in the congregation (one is a pediatric epidemiologist), the head of palliative care at the best hospital in town, the church officers, and the chair of deacons. They met separately and also with the leaders of most of the organizations that use church facilities: homeless services, children's services, 12-step groups, Scouts, ESL classes, a spiritual yoga group, a preschool ... I think I'm remembering them all. Most of them had already decided to suspend operations. The task force decided to close almost everything. The services offered to homeless people will go on in restricted form so no more than 50 people are together in our large hall at once. The preschool is staying open for now, as it is governed by state licensing and not the school district. They'll livestream church, as I said, then we'll email out a link to the audio recording along with the service bulletin next week. The office and maintenance department are staying open, so I'll be at work next week. And honestly I'm very grateful to be going into a space that won't have been touched by several hundred people on Sunday.
  • All that sounds so alien to most Brits' experience of church ... it's truly a different world!
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 14
    We'll be doing much the same as Alan, though (after consultation) the Scout and Guide Parade Service for a fortnight hence has been cancelled.

    AFAIK our usual Mothering Sunday Family Mass & Scout Parade (on 22nd) is going ahead, unless other counsels prevail next week. Actually, it's not necessarily a bad idea, as we use a simple bespoke service leaflet with all the hymns and prayers on it, so no need to handle books etc.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    All that sounds so alien to most Brits' experience of church ... it's truly a different world!
    In what particular ways does it sound alien, @Baptist Trainfan?

    We did a similar thing to what Ruth described, in terms of gathering members of the congregation who have some connection and experience with public health to make recommendation. We are continuing our lunch ministry to the homeless, though instead of making sandwiches ourselves, we’re buying them from the deli across the street. That way we’re assured of them being prepared in a properly cleaned kitchen, and we’re supporting a “neighbor” restaurant that otherwise might face hard times due to the extension of spring break at the nearby university.

    As best I can tell, relatively few churches, at least of the mainline Protestant denominations, will be having services tomorrow. The local Catholic bishop has not suspended masses, but has waived the Sunday obligation until the crisis has passed.

  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited March 14
    At a guess, I think it might be the idea of 'several hundred people'...!

    A lot of churches in UKland are very much smaller, numerically, than many in USland...or so it seems.
  • At a guess, I think it might be the idea of 'several hundred people'...!

    A lot of churches in UKland are very much smaller, numerically, than many in USland...or so it seems.

    Indeed. And hence the idea that you might have a group of people (or even one person) with sufficient professional expertise to advise is pretty alien too. Not to mention being able to quickly draw on the resources and infrastructure to live stream a service. Heck, for us even hand washing will be a challenge as we can only get hot water from the tea urn.
  • Same here. Hot water in the Hall kitchen/WCs, but only COLD (running) water in the Vestry WC - connecting up the water-heater is now on the PCC's list of Things To Do.

    OTOH, and looking on the bright side, the small size of some UKland congregations means that it's not too difficult to carry on as per usual.

    Said he, hopefully...
  • At a guess, I think it might be the idea of 'several hundred people'...!

    A lot of churches in UKland are very much smaller, numerically, than many in USland...or so it seems.

    Indeed. And hence the idea that you might have a group of people (or even one person) with sufficient professional expertise to advise is pretty alien too. Not to mention being able to quickly draw on the resources and infrastructure to live stream a service. Heck, for us even hand washing will be a challenge as we can only get hot water from the tea urn.
    Out of the three congregations in our pastorate, we can muster a pharmacist to provide medical advice - and, most churches probably can't even manage that. The sum total of people using our buildings probably exceeds 100, but not "several 100". The congregations between them might manage 50 on a good day, our particular congregation is between 8 and 12. We have toilets off the entry vestibule, so at least hand washing isn't too much of a problem.
  • One member of our congregation is a Recovery Nurse at the local hospital. I rather hope we won't need her professional services...
    :wink:
Sign In or Register to comment.