Re-Gathering & Opening Plan (as of 10.19.2020)
Welcome to Unity’s page dedicated to providing our congregation and community with the most updated information regarding the church’s plans to resume on-campus activities in a coordinated, safe and methodical way.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will the church be opened for in-person worship?
Unity’s Re-gathering Team is meeting weekly to review COVID metrics and to develop protocols for opening our Sanctuary and campus using appropriate precautions for our Congregation. The major determinants for in-person worship are objective, scientifically based evidence that shows a consistent downward trend in community spread of COVID in our local area.
What metrics is the Team looking at to guide this decision?
The primary metrics that the Team is using are: (a) the 7-day moving average of new COVID cases, (b) the 7-day moving average for percent positive tests for COVID, and (c) hospitalization rates. The Team reviews these metrics weekly for York, Lancaster and Mecklenburg Counties as those are the major areas where our Congregation lives. As of October 15th, these measures have not shown a consistent downward trend.
Why are other churches in our area already open?
While the Team is aware of several churches that have opened for in-person worship, a recent survey by the Re-Gathering Team revealed that the majority of Presbyterian Churches were taking the same operational precautions that Unity has taken. Of the nine PC(USA) congregations that we surveyed, located in Charlotte, Ft Mill, Indian Land, Rock Hill and Columbia, only one is currently holding in-person worship indoors at this time and one more has plans to begin later in October. We chose these particular churches to survey based on proximity to Unity and/or comparability of congregation size.
When will we all be able to gather together for worship in a normal fashion?
The Re-Gathering Team anticipates that even when we do re-open for in-person worship, it will not be “business as usual”. We will need to continue to observe physical distancing, wear masks, etc and the allowed attendance will be reduced. Additionally, we will recommend that persons at high risk for COVID continue to worship remotely via live stream. Any decisions on reducing these restrictions will be based on continued, improving COVID metrics.
When will we be able to return to worship in the sanctuary?
“When” will be determined by Session . The Re-Gathering team is providing data and proposals to assist the Session in making its decision. Session has already approved Phase A guidelines which permitted staff to return and limited outdoor meetings. A look at the weekly church calendar on our web site shows how many different groups and ministries are meeting using the outside of our campus and via zoom. Session has already approved Phase B guidelines that cover returning to worship in the sanctuary including safety protocols, cleaning and disinfection when the time is right. The Re-Gathering team will be making a proposal at the October Session meeting for small meetings inside, using designated rooms and safety precautions.
So many other churches have already returned to in-person worship. Why is it taking Unity so long?
Unity began in-person outside worship in September on Wednesday evenings. Discussions are underway regarding additional outside worship opportunities. Outside worship is viewed as a safer way to gather that allows public singing.
The churches I know that have returned to in-person worship have not had any issues with COVID. Why can’t we just follow what they are doing?
Yes, a number of area churches in other denominations have returned to in-person worship. In one case, the church had to cease worship because the pastor had contracted COVID-19. There are also a number of examples in the media where indoor church services have resulted in COVID super spreader events, including recently in Charlotte. It is out of love and concern for our congregation that we are being cautious.