Lodi UMC Safety Protocols for In-Person Activities

From Pastor Peace’s words in the week of August 22, 2021

“I don’t want to make you feel like I am ignoring the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. I also want to be honest in confessing that I don’t know if I can mandate one or another. This is because I understand all of you know by now what is the best way of caring for your body, mind, and spirit, and for your beloved ones. I appreciate the choice of wearing a mask during our in-person services. I also honor the confidence from trusting that your church family cares for each other as they do for themselves.”

“When it comes to questions around mask mandate, I understand that, some of us would not attend church in person unless you are assured that people sitting around you will wear a mask. Some of us would not attend church if you are pressured to wear a mask. Amid this challenge, I want to ensure you all that you are heard, everyone of you is heard, your voices are acknowledged. I am committed to keeping everyone safe and I don’t want to lose anyone in the process.

Though we all may not agree about what is right in the question about mask mandate, and even though we may not answer the question, consistently, in the same way, in all situations, what we can and have to do without fail is to not judge.”

“Safety is important. Throughout many months of managing the Covid-19 pandemic, the core values that I have kept at the forefront of my decision making for my beloved Lodi UMC have been: (1) loving one another through prioritizing safety and health – physical and mental; (2) connecting one another in safe and responsible ways to serve and engage all, especially the most vulnerable and the easily left-out. 


Guidelines for Lodi United Methodist Church In-person Gatherings  (6th revision, as of August 27, 2021)

The purpose of this guideline is to create a safe environment where in-person activity participants, especially those who attend Sunday worship, can feel a deeper connection with their brothers/sisters of faith, and with God, in a sacred place.

We reopen our church building safely and faithfully.

Our guidelines reflect our understanding of two major respiratory virus transmission pathways: contact (direct or indirect, through droplets, between people and with contaminated surfaces) and airborne inhalation for hours in a closed room.

Beyond any practical principles, grounded is our belief in what we, as one body of Christ, ought to do. We covenant to love as Jesus has loved. In the post-pandemic world, this means we put the safety of others ahead of our personal preferences and honor the most vulnerable.

We have been advocates for vaccinations as we receive them as gifts from God-powered human talents and skills. We hosted a walk-in vaccination clinic in our church building in early June as the first place in Columbia County that was initiated by a non-government or health-care institution. We’re also grateful to know all elderly members and those at higher risk of serious symptoms among our church family have been fully vaccinated.

We are cautious, and at the same time, we are not intimidated when it comes to continuing to DO the church and BE the church. We have proved ourselves being bold and flexible in carrying out our mission and ministry. “Both in-person and online” as ways to participate in Sunday worship have become our new “normal”. Our Sunday services at 8 and 10AM are open for you to attend in person, and also livestreamed at www.facebook.com/LodiUMC(no sign-in needed. Simply click the link.) Our missional works and outreach always connect the church to the society we are part of. To name a few from the recent months, Dolly’s Fund Grants and Scholarships (June 2021), Friday Movie Night in the Parking Lot (July/August), New2You Back2School Sale, National Night Out, Susie the Duck Food Booth, Vacation Bible School Rocky Railway (August). 

In this time of pandemic, our guiding principles have always been: CONNECTION, COMPASSION, and CAUTION.

Before you come to the church building,
• please make sure your answers are ALL “NO” to these screening questions:
– Within the past 48 hours, have you been sick and been experiencing at least one of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste or smell?
– Within the past 48 hours, have you been in close contact (6 feet or closer for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) with someone who showed at least two of the following symptoms: fever or chills, muscle aches, headache, nasal congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting?
– Within the past 14 days, have you been in close contact (6 feet or closer for a cumulative total of 15 minutes) with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or experience any symptoms consistent with Covid-19?
– Are you currently waiting on the results of a Covid-19 test?

• If your answer to one of those screening question is “YES”, please worship online with us.
• Let’s continue to stay connected, as we have been, through other means of church communication and gatherings. Make sure that you receive our email communications on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you don’t receive them, please consider signing up here.

While you are in the church building
We hope that your worship experience in the church building is found to be safe and meaningful. As we gather for worship, let’s do so in a covenant of Christian love.
1. All doors will be open prior to and after worship service, and if weather permits, will remain open during the service to maximize air flow.
1-1. To optimize air ventilation, uv light tubes is installed and running in the air central system. With the system, air in the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall is being exchanged 5 times per hour. In addition, one unit of air purifier will be running in the front area where worship leaders and pastor speak.
2. Upon your entrance into the church building, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
3. We are confident that 99% of our regular worship attendees have been fully vaccinated and have shown their respect of other’s safety. We also know well that the latest CDC recommendation is to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status in public places where the COVID community transmission level is substantial or high. As of August 27, 2021, Lodi city and town are in those categories, and no local mandate has been issued yet. With caution and care,  we appreciate the choice of wearing a mask.
4. We hope you feel welcomed. Ushers will hand out a copy of the worship bulletin to you. It has lyrics, scripture passages, and information that will help you engage in worship more actively. If you prefer using hymnal and Bible, they are available in the pew pockets. We’ve brought them back as any transmission risk from this is considered low.
5. At this point, we ask you to place your offering in a plate in the front area or by the sanctuary door. Extra offering envelopes are available on the offering plate stations.
6. Please use, prior to and after exiting the restroom, hand sanitizer next to the restroom door.
7. If you are in a role of serving during our worship, please follow the additional guidelines communicated to you via email.
8. After the 8AM service, disinfecting procedure will be applied with the spraying of a safe disinfectant registered on the EPA List N for use against Covid-19.
9. Fellowship Hall is open between the two services for your visit with other church members and friends. If you haven’t been fully vaccinated, please consider the safety of those gathered indoor. You may pick up a mask in the entrance are and practice a safe distancing.
10. Children Sunday School hasn’t started yet, but they are welcome to join in worship in the pews. In honor of the Lodi School District COVID safety rules, we ask the children under 12 to wear a mask and those attending with them are expected to wear a mask. Toddlers are not recommended to wear a mask. Our nursery is open per your request.

After you come to church
• If you become ill during the week, please call the church office immediately. Your information will be kept strictly confidential.

Our commitment to church cleanliness and sanitation is stronger than ever. These procedures are currently in place.
• Cleaning and disinfecting of the pews, doorknobs, light switches, handles and restrooms, will be performed on a weekly basis.
• Hand sanitizer stations will be located outside the sanctuary and restrooms for your convenience.
• Areas not to be used will be blocked.
• If you need to use the nursery room, please contact the church office first.
• When you plan to hold a meeting in the church building, please contact the office at 592-3480. We need to make sure the meeting space is available. We strongly encourage you to use the available cleaning kits (gloves, paper towels and disinfectant) prior to and after your meetings.

If you have any questions regarding these guidelines, please contact Pastor Peace at 592-3480 or email at pastorpeace@lodiumc.org