The risk for greeters, ushers, and Communion stewards is high as most of their tasks do not allow for appropriate social distancing and/or handling items that multiple people touch.
(BWC Guidelines for Re-entering Well, p. 4)
As churches take steps to ensure people’s safety and wellbeing, managing expectations will be a vital part of reopening buildings and gathering well. Greeters, ushers and Communion stewards play an essential role in setting expectations and providing warm hospitality in the midst of this anxious time.
Developing plans and training greeters, ushers, and Communion stewards will be an integral part of Phase 1 as congregations prepare to meet in-person in Phases 2 or 3. In addition to imagining what will be required and training people, Phase 1 and the early parts of Phase 2 provide an opportunity to assess the building and create clear, informative signage for the safe return of people to the church building.
Establish set routes for entering and exiting the building and sanctuary. If possible, entrances and exits should be one-way only.
Clearly mark or tape-off pews that are closed for social distancing.
Post clearly visible signs to inform parishioners of the new traffic flow. Orderly ways of entering and exiting the sanctuary and pews will increase safety and assist people in comfortably finding their place within the worship space.
Recruit and train greeters, ushers, and Communion stewards who are not vulnerable to the virus. Training to include:
An understanding of how COVID-19 is transmitted and why it is important for everyone to adopt the following wellbeing protocols:
Stay home if you or someone you are in contact with feels sick or has a temperature (to prevent the spread of the virus);
Maintain six feet apart from others not in your immediate family (to prevent the airborne spread of the virus among those who are symptom free);
Wear a facemask at all times when away from home (to protect others);
Do not touch your face, mouth, or eyes (to prevent the virus from entering your body); and
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after using the toilet and use hand-sanitizer to clean hands after exiting the restroom or after touching other common surfaces (to kill the virus).
Teach greeters, ushers, and Communion stewards how to wear masks properly:
Cover both nose and mouth and secure a close fit around the face.
Put masks on before leaving vehicles.
Once in the building, they should wash their hands, put on gloves, assemble needed supplies, wipe down surfaces they have touched, remove gloves, and then sanitize or wash hands.
Learn about the wellbeing guides and how they will be partnering with greeters and ushers. (See “Enforcing Necessary Health Policies Tip Sheet” for details.)
Review the purpose of their service: to make people feel welcomed, seen, supported and safe. With purpose and the health guidelines in mind, walk through the best replacement behaviors for your church. Here are some examples:
Instead of reaching out to offer a welcome in the form of a handshake, elbow bump or hug, we will (wave, bow slightly, or _________) and say (“Welcome! It is great to see you!”)
Instead of handing out bulletins, we will (project on wall/screen; email content; place bulletins on the seats with sanitized hands and masks on prior to people arriving; provide a recycling bin for people to use after worship while maintaining social distancing)
Instead of escorting people to their seat, we will (take positions around the sanctuary to direct people from a safe distance)
Instead of distributing Communion elements in baskets or trays, or having people come forward to the Communion rail, we will follow the Communion Tip Sheet.
Instead of passing an offering plate or having people process to place their offering in a basket, we will follow the Offering Tip Sheet. (Continue to ask people to give electronically to reduce the amount of paper that others must touch. We will guide others to place their offering in designated secure boxes in the sanctuary.)
Given the new traffic patterns, think about where you will need to be positioned in the space to allow for proper sightlines, flow, and distancing. For many, this will mean standing back from doorways.
Determine how/who will wipe down door handles on a regular basis as people enter and exit the sanctuary.
Assist the congregation in making sure they have easy access to hand sanitizer, tissues, and, if someone has forgotten to bring one, a mask. The church’s Re-entry Task Force should set up and publicize a procedure to assist with the distribution and disposal of these items.
While general health guideline signage will be provided, consider additional signage that will help participants feel comfortable and supported in new traffic patterns and behaviors. Keep the information brief and readable at a glance. If the church office does not have the equipment to make signs, investigate having them professionally printed.