NAVIGATING NEW TERRITORY - Published May 6, 2020
Reopening Guidelines for Washington Conference Churches
Guidance and best practices for returning to in-person worship services
We are all looking forward to returning to in person worship services very soon. As a church family, we quickly found creative ways to continue in ministry including live streamed worship services, virtual Bible studies, food bank distribution, face mask sewing for the community, and more.
But we have missed the opportunity to have corporate worship. We have missed what Psalms 95:6,7 expresses so well: “Oh come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”
Psalms 122:1 certainly expresses how many of us are feeling. It says: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD,’” NKJV. We miss being able to be together!
Hebrews 10:24-25 shares reasons we worship together: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
As we prepare to come back together for corporate worship with new regulations on public meetings, let us remember the real reason we get together and not just focus on the new rules that we need to follow in order to stop the spread of disease.
Let us focus on Jesus, stirring up love and good works and come together to encourage each other as we continue to look forward to Jesus coming again.
— Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
The State of Washington has continued the Stay Home Stay Healthy order until May 31, 2020. In addition, four different phases have been outlined of how the state will reopen. Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has a similar four phase reopening process for churches and ministries. Those big-picture phases are outlined in the attached chart.
Washington Conference leaders read and evaluated best practices and recommendations for safely gathering congregations. The leadership team assembled the best recommendations into this document.
Washington Conference encourages local church leadership teams to evaluate local needs, research additional ministry options, and determine the best logistics for safely gathering the church family and sharing the gospel of Jesus through the reopening phases.
Worship and spiritual fellowship as we’ve known it will feel and look different. During phases 1 & 2, public worship inside church buildings is still not allowed. However, drive-in services are allowed starting in phase 1. Public worship in person will begin again in phases 3 and 4.