As of August 5, 2021
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, St. John’s established the Reopening Task Force, composed of committee chairpersons, staff, local physicians, and a pandemic epidemiologist to help guide our decision-making on how/when to resume in-person ministry safely. To our knowledge, the Task-Force team effectively prevented the spread of disease at St. John’s and helped reduce the spread in our community. The Center for Disease Control and the South Carolina Annual Conference have both been prioritized sources for safety recommendations specific to St. John’s.
Within the last week, both the CDC and SC Annual Conference have recommended resuming the wearing of masks until the more contagious Delta variant subsides - even for those who are fully vaccinated. While this is not the news anyone wants to hear, as people of faith, we are to show concern for our neighbors - particularly those most vulnerable.
We have many elderly members within our congregation who are more susceptible to effects from breakthrough infections, children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and those whose immune systems are weakened due to auto-immune disorders or chemotherapy treatments. And so, the Reopening Team is recommending masks, for children and adults, now be worn indoors when groups of people are meeting or worshipping, at least until the Delta variant surge has passed.This is not a mandate but a request as an act of love for one another and a simple way to ensure that everyone who wants to attend church can do so safely. We still recommend frequent hand washing or sanitizing. Socially distanced outdoor activities will not be affected. Masks will be available at the Elizabeth Lane and White Street entrances if you need one.
Worshipping together will remain in its current format - singing hymns, passing the peace, taking communion, etc., as we continue to fellowship and worship together as the body of Christ. For those who may present symptoms such as - fever, head congestion, fatigue, pronounced coughing, etc., we ask that you worship virtually at home and request a Zoom link for church meetings. If you have not yet been vaccinated or want more information about the vaccine, don't hesitate to contact the church office at 803-327-3113 for assistance. We are hoping, planning, and praying for only a brief return to these suggestions.
St. John’s is still planning for an active Fall 2021, and we hope you are planning to be here with us. Thank you for taking care of one another and for demonstrating God’s patience and grace as we navigate difficult times together as a church family.
Grace and Peace,
The Reopening Task Force
As of May 19, 2021
Following the most recent announcements from the CDC, our Reopening Task Force met and has set new policies for our COVID-19 protocol regarding wearing a mask. These policies are based on the science provided by the CDC as well as other health professionals.
All persons who have been fully vaccinated may begin observing a mask optional policy—antibodies from having COVID-19 do not equate to being fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends that people who have experienced COVID-19 and recovered still be vaccinated. Anyone who is immunocompromised or those with other high-risk conditions is encouraged to continue wearing a mask for their own health and safety. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home.
Those who have not been fully vaccinated are still required to wear a mask while on our church campus. Vaccinated individuals may choose to continue to wear a mask if they wish
In both of the above policies, we rely on the honor system and each person's Christian commitment to be truthful in choosing whether they should or should not wear a mask. Paid church staff in all ministry areas will be asked to provide proof of vaccination.
Children are still required to wear a mask indoors until either the CDC offers more specific guidance on the matter or vaccinations are available to all persons regardless of age.
The Reopening Task Force appreciates your continued support and prayers as we continue to navigate this transitional time. We are excited about these new guidelines and returning to a sense of pre-pandemic life as safely as possible.
As of May 3, 2021
The Reopening Team met on Tuesday, April 27. The team reviewed local COVID infection rates, vaccination rates, SC Conference guidelines, and the results of the Congregational Survey. Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey, as your responses helped determine a timeline for resuming additional ministry activities. We are pleased to share with you that we are in the process of returning to a more familiar worship and ministry experience. We appreciate your continued support and patience as we work toward gradually resuming the elements of worship that have been suspended due to the pandemic, as well as more in-person ministry activities. We are taking a gradual approach to allow those members of our congregation who have just begun their vaccination schedule to have time for immunity to build. We are also mindful that our children and many of our youth are not yet eligible for vaccines. If variants gain strength or something changes in an unfavorable way, plans are subject to change. In the meantime, we encourage everyone eligible to get a vaccine to decrease the chance that variants could cause a resurgence in the virus and decrease community spread. Please contact the church office if you need assistance with a vaccine appointment.We are now able to:
Discontinue preregistration for Worship.
Discontinue temperature checks upon entering the building
Return Pew Pads to the pews
Pass the offering plates during each Worship Service
Reopen water fountains
Discontinue face masks at outdoor worship and outdoor gatherings, for those who are fully vaccinated. (Please continue to keep a little distance between you and your neighbor). Congregational singing may resume at outdoor worship services.
Increase capacity for both services.
Return to routine disinfection schedules.
Discontinue signing-in for meetings
Resume in-person meetings
Provide nursery during both the 9 AM and 11 AM services
Gather for occasional meals together (Confirmation and Graduate Sunday)
Remove masks in small groups indoors if everyone in attendance has been fully vaccinated. Times, when this would be appropriate, are small meetings, book studies, etc. Please discuss this as a group and only remove masks if everyone in attendance is comfortable and the group is small. Please continue to wear a face-covering until you reach your small group destination and all parties agree to remove masks.
Resume in person Sunday School. Classes that prefer to meet via Zoom may make that decision as a class. Adult classes that have school-age children and youth will receive information from Emily Bell and Ryan Powell in the near future concerning resuming Sunday school for children and youth on June 6. If you need assistance gathering curriculum or Sunday school materials, please contact Paul Watson or Sarah Crockford.
Resume Congregational Singing (with masks)
Resume Children’s Worship at both services
The Chancel Choir will return to singing in worship soon! They have begun rehearsing but are taking some time to find their voices again as they rehearse and learn new music. They can’t wait to share their music with you again!
Fellowship events will resume soon. Occasional outdoor events will take place over the next few months, with a more consistent schedule in the fall.
Face Coverings: At this time, we still require the use of a mask while inside the building.
Regular hand washing is still encouraged.
We will continue to offer our 11 AM service virtually via Facebook Live, YouTube, and CN2. There will be an outdoor Contemporary Service on May 16. More details will be available soon.
Thank you for working with us throughout the pandemic to ensure that every member's health and safety were maintained. It was extremely important to us that none of our members, guests, or community groups become ill because of worship or ministry activities at St. John’s. To our knowledge, we have avoided any spread from within the church, and for that, we give thanks. We believe that we have helped to minimize spread within the Rock Hill community and are grateful for that. The precautions still in place remain to continue to prioritize health and safety both within our church and around the Rock Hill community as we live into Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors and John Wesley’s first rule of “Do no harm.” We will continue to evaluate recommendations from the CDC and our local health experts and lift the face-covering precautions when appropriate.