As United Methodist Churches in Northern Virginia begin the process of returning to worship, the Bi-District is hard at work putting together resources and information to assist with that process.
The Virginia Conference has released detailed information on the requirements and specifics of returning to worship.
You can find those on their website here.
The Bi-District Staff will be using this page to provide supplementary information to help churches sort through those guidelines.
Healthy Church Team Sample PlansAs your church and your Healthy Church Team (HCT) work to create your reopening plans, you will find some sample plans here for reference.
Sample HCT Plans
These plans are to help your HCT as you prepare to reopen. The details and logistics pertaining to your particular church building and congregation need to be adjusted accordingly.
ResourcesPlease note, these lists are not exhaustive, but are offered as a place for you to begin. We will continue to update this page.
*Some of these items are in high demand or take a long time to ship, so be sure to plan ahead!
Right now, these may be useful for small group meetings including a pastor of 10 or less people; eventually, when in person worship resumes, you will need these disposable options.
We know that upon the return to worship, additional safety precautions will be needed to keep congregations and staff safe. Here are some places where you can begin to acquire safety-related items.
Clearly communicating new procedures to your congregation will be critical as you return to worship.
In order to plan for capacity and proper distancing in both Drive-In and In-Person worship, you will need some kind of registration or RSVP process.
*note this is in ADDITTION to the medical form that is required by the Handbook For Local Churches
Online Form Systems
- Google Forms (all clergy have VAUMC email addresses, thus have access to Google Forms)
- Cognito Forms (has both free and advanced paid options, can build robust forms easily)
- Eventbrite (ticketing system, free–as long as you aren’t charging admission!)
- Wufoo Forms (robust form building system, but requires a paid plan)
- Signup.com (a simple, free signup form system, can pay for upgrades like ad removal and branding options.)
- SignupGenius.com (a simple form system many are familiar with, full of all kinds of ads)
- Pastors Toolbox (a new form system created SPECIFICALLY FOR heading back to church after Coronavirus, requires payment, there is a UMC discount)
Churches anticipating following the conference guidelines for Drive-In worship need to take many things into consideration.
FCC RegulationsThe use of FM radio is regulated and requires attention to the rules and guidelines by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/low-power-radio-general-information#UNLICENSED
From that document:
Part 15 Devices
Unlicensed operation on the AM and FM radio broadcast bands is permitted for some extremely low powered devices covered under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules. On FM frequencies, these devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters). See 47 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Section 15.239, and the July 24, 1991 Public Notice (still in effect). On the AM broadcast band, these devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters). See 47 CFR Sections 15.207, 15.209, 15.219, and 15.221. These devices must accept any interference caused by any other operation, which may further limit the effective service range.
For more information on Part 15 devices, please see OET Bulletin No. 63 (“Understanding the FCC Regulations for Low-Power, Non-Licensed Transmitters”). Questions not answered by this Bulletin can be directed to the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology, Customer Service Branch, at the Columbia, Maryland office, phone (301) 362 – 3000.
Penalties for Operation Without A Permit or License
The Commission considers unauthorized broadcast operation to be a serious matter. Presently, the maximum penalty for operating an unlicensed or “pirate” broadcast station (one which is not permitted under Part 15 or is not a Carrier Current Station or Campus Radio Station) is set at $10,000 for a single violation or a single day of operation, up to a total maximum amount of $75,000.
Adjustments may be made upwards or downwards depending on the circumstances involved. Equipment used for an unauthorized operation may also be confiscated. There are also criminal penalties (fine and/or imprisonment) for “willfully and knowingly” operating a radio station without a license. DON’T DO IT!
Videos that describe equipment and process:
Cautions regarding legality:
Articles and Resources
Here are some articles that may help as you prepare to go back.
- Why Reopening a Church is Different
- Churches Practice Caution
- When Churches Reopen
- The Church Needs New Wineskins for the New Era
- 5 Transformative Questions to Ask before You Reopen Your Church or after You’ve Done It
- 11 Provocative Thoughts and Questions about What’s Next
- Digital Church is Here to Stay
- The Idiot’s Guide to Reopening Your Church
- Becoming a Church Without Walls
- Opening the Doors
- Six Months of Coronavirus: Here’s Some of What We’ve Learned