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August 18, 2020

Dear friends,


Rather than my usual letter today, I’d like to share an update from our Re-Gathering Team. I am grateful to the people on this team for their guidance and commitment to our congregation. We’ve been working together since June on a plan to re-open our building so that we can re-gather for in-person fellowship. As you know, this work has been difficult and has, at times, felt like we are chasing a moving target. This update is as of Monday, August 17, 2020. Following is a summary of the current guidelines from our Re-Gathering Team:

Phased Re-Opening of our Facility in response to COVID-19

EHUMC will re-open our facility and re-gather for worship and other in-person activities following the 3-phase approach below. Some staff members and volunteers are coming by the building occasionally. Anyone entering the building should be wearing a mask.

Anyone experiencing one or more of the following should stay home:

  • feeling sick,

  • believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19,

  • is having any symptoms similar to COVID-19 symptoms, or

  • is waiting for a COVID-19 test result

We recognize that at any time, if cases begin to surge, we will step backward through the phases as necessary, returning to closure if necessary.

Please note: we are using two sources to track our number of reported cases:

· https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/: the website used by our bishop & cabinet to monitor the rise or fall of case numbers across the Annual Conference and the state of Georgia. It contains a map that assigns each state and county to a color-coded zone referring to the number of cases (15 cases per 100,000 people) on a 7-day moving average. References in the plan below to color “zones” relate to this guide.

· https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/county-map.html: the county-by-county map of the number of known cases provided by the CDC’s website

Current Status: Building Closed for in-person gatherings and EH Preschool & Kindergarten

We are in this phase when DeKalb County is in the red zone*. While our building is closed, we are offering drive-thru “office hours” for brief socially distanced and mask-covered chats as well as donation collections for various Serve projects. We are maintaining a regular but less rigorous cleaning and maintenance schedule, and some volunteers and staff members enter the building on occasion to work independently.

Re-gathering/Re-opening

Phase 1 begins when DeKalb County has 2 consecutive weeks in the orange zone*

· outdoor, church-related gatherings in small groups. Every person will be asked to record their attendance so that we can practice responsible contact tracing should anyone in the group(s) test positive for COVID-19.

· virtual/online worship continues

· participants are required to practice social distancing (at least 6 feet between themselves and anyone else not living in their household)

· participants are encouraged to bring and use their own hand sanitizer

· masks are required at all times for people aged 5 years and older; children 3-5 years old are strongly encouraged to wear masks when it is feasible

· anyone experiencing one or more of the following should stay home:

  • feeling sick,

  • believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19,

  • is having any symptoms similar to COVID-19 symptoms, or

  • is waiting for a COVID-19 test result

Phase 2 begins when DeKalb County has 2 consecutive weeks in the yellow zone*

· church and community gatherings of up to 50 to include worship and small group church activities

· some online option for worship continues

· participants are required to practice social distancing (at least 6 feet between themselves and anyone else not living in their household)

· hand sanitizer is available throughout the facility and at hands-free stations when possible

· masks are required at all times for people aged 5 years and older; children 3-5 years old are strongly encouraged to wear masks when it is feasible; masks will be provided for anyone who arrives without one

· anyone experiencing one or more of the following should stay home:

  • feeling sick,

  • believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19,

  • is having any symptoms similar to COVID-19 symptoms, or

  • is waiting for a COVID-19 test result· frequent hand-washing with soap for at least 20 seconds is necessary, especially after using the restroom or touching frequently used items or surfaces

· frequently used items and surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized by our custodial service provider following building occupation

Phase 3 begins when DeKalb County has 2 consecutive weeks in the green zone*

· Resume typical activities with precautions as recommended from health officials and the Annual Conference.

· some virtual worship experience is now and on-going part of our life as a church


We will re-gather as soon as it is safe to do so, and what a day of rejoicing that will be! In the meantime, WE REMAIN OPEN and at work in the world in the name of Jesus Christ!


Peace,

Susan

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Embry Hills United Methodist Church

3304 Henderson Mill Road, Atlanta, GA 30341

(770) 938-0661

office@embryhillsumc.org