On March 18, 2021, members of the Responsible Building Use Task Force met to discuss expanding the current allowances in our re-opening the building plan. In March we entered Phase 2.5 of our re-opening the building plan, which allows for 15 people to attend worship in person in Westminster Hall on Sundays. After a few weeks, the re-opening phase continues to go well and those attending have reported feeling safe with the Covid protocols we have put into place. Therefore, beginning immediately we will expand the allowances in our re-opening the building plan under Phase 2.5 and on Easter Sunday we will move into Phase 3.5.
Additional allowances under Phase 2.5:
- Allow access to the sanctuary from 10 am to 3 pm, Monday through Friday, for personal prayer. To arrange an individual prayer time in the sanctuary, please contact Vanessa Uzong at the front desk (612-332-3421).
- Allow opportunities for Westminster small groups of up to 15 people to meet at the church between 9 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday. This would be arranged ahead of time with only one group at a time. To arrange a small group meeting in the church, please contact Deb Wagner. If groups would like to meet at other times, they would need to make special arrangements with a staff person.
- Continue to allow 15 people to attend worship in person in Westminster Hall.
Allowances under Phase 3.5, beginning Sunday, April 4:
- Move morning worship attendance to the sanctuary and increase attendance allowance to 100 people (including clergy and staff).
- Continue Gathered at Five worship in Westminster Hall and increase attendance allowance to 35 people (including clergy and staff).
- Allow groups of up to 50 people to gather outside on-site and off-site.
- Continue to allow Westminster groups of 15 or less to meet inside the building as well as individuals for personal prayer.
For all of the above, Covid protocols would remain, which include preregistration for events and worship, answering the Covid screening questions, wearing a mask, and staying six-feet apart from others in the building who are not in your immediate household. In addition, there will be no congregational singing during the in-person services.
Finally, we want to remind the community that should circumstances warrant, we may need to scale back our re-opening plan to an earlier phase.
Below is a list of questions and answers related to this update that we hope will provide more information.
Can you tell me what the most up-to-date allowances are in Westminster’s re-opening the building?
Beginning Monday, March 22, during the work week we will open the sanctuary for personal prayer and allow Westminster groups of up to 15 people to meet in the building, all with preregistration and following our Covid protocols. We will also allow groups of up to 15 people to meet at other times, with special arrangement from a staff member.
Beginning Easter Sunday, April 4, we will open the sanctuary for morning worship and allow up to 100 people to meet in the space. We will increase the number in Westminster Hall to 35 people total for Gathered at Five, and allow groups of 50 to gather outside on-site and off-site. Again, all gatherings will require preregistration and those attending will need to answer the Covid screening questions, wear a mask, and stay six-feet apart from others in the building who are not in their immediate household. In addition, there will be no congregational singing during the services.
What does this mean for Easter Sunday services?
We will have multiple in-person worship options for Easter Sunday this year, including one service in the sanctuary, but none with congregational singing. To see a complete of Holy Week and Easter service options, visit the holiday worship page of our website.
My small group would love to meet together in person at the church. How can we get on the schedule?
Please contact Deb Wagner and she will help with the arrangements.
I would like to stop by the church and visit the sanctuary to pray. How do I schedule that?
Please contact Vanessa Uzong at the front desk (612-332-3421) and she will help with the arrangements.
Do you have to be vaccinated to attend worship or events at Westminster?
No, we are not requiring those attending worship to be vaccinated. However, we do acknowledge that there is some level of risk involved for attending in-person worship and events. Therefore, we leave it up to individuals and families to decide if this level of risk is something they are comfortable with or not. Both decisions are fine and expected.
If someone is vaccinated, do they get preference to attend worship?
We will not be asking if someone is vaccinated as part of our preregistration process so vaccinations will not have a role in deciding who attends worship and events.
Are you continuing with the re-opening volunteers?
For the first weeks of re-opening the building, we asked for volunteers to attend and provide feedback to help us learn and then to teach others about the protocols for future in-person services and events at Westminster. Those individuals will be encouraged to volunteer at upcoming gatherings inside the building, but in Phase 3.5 we are no longer asking those attending worship and events to agree to be a re-opening volunteer.
How are you monitoring this re-opening the building plan?
We have a small group of staff who meet weekly to review feedback from those who attended in-person worship and to make any necessary adjustments to our procedures. In addition, the Responsible Building Use Task Force is meeting regularly to review what we are learning, make any necessary adjustments to protocols, and expand the allowances.
Is there a chance you could move back to online-only worship?
Although we hope we continue to move forward through this pandemic, we also recognize the possibility that the conditions in the larger community might decline again. Therefore, there is always a chance that, should circumstances warrant, we will scale back to an earlier re-opening phase.
What if someone attending worship or another event is diagnosed with COVID-19?
Westminster’s established Covid protocols state that if there is a confirmed case reported, Westminster will:
- Disinfect and close any impacted spaces for an appropriate period.
- Inform proper authorities, such as local and state health officials.
- Assist authorities with contact tracing.
In addition, those involved with worship will get tested and quarantine, if necessary.