2020 Re-Opening Plan

Dear Church Family,

Welcome back!

We understand much of this plan certainly does not sound like worship like we’re used to having and many members will have concerns, while others are eager to get back to in-person in some capacity.  Since no one knows how long our situation will last (and of course the plan will adapt as the situation may dictate), we’re trying to find a solution to meet the changing world we live in. 

Every member must decide for themselves when it’s the right time return to in-person worship.  For those who do choose to return, we ask that you respect all aspects of the re-opening plan for the protection of everyone.

Thank you; stay well and stay safe!


The Re-opening Committee


Our Goal:

Your safety from car to pew, and pew to car is our priority.

Our goal is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as together we flatten COVID-19 and ensure zero infections are spread by United Methodist activity.


Plan Highlights:

  • Seating will be limited to marked sections with each section having no more than two family members (some may have as few as one since only family members can sit in the same section).

  • Due to the limited seating, a reservation will be required along with self-prescreening and acknowledgment on meeting specific criteria around symptoms/exposure

  • Masks must be worn at all times and sanitizer stations will be set-up.  Bringing your own mask will be preferred, but the Church will have stock available

  • Livestream service WILL continue, and an online fellowship is expected to continue immediately following service; there will be not be before/after in-person fellowship inside the building

  • There will be no bulletins, bibles or hymnals in the pews

  • Music is at the discretion of the Pastor and Music Director but no singing in the pews will be allowed

  • Ushers will escort you in and out of worship by section to maintain social distancing

  • One bathroom will be available with an attendant to clean after each use



Plan Details



  • There will be a single point of entry and exit:

    • Enter & Exit at ramp door only, leading directly into sanctuary

    • Fellowship area closed off

    • Pew cushions removed from “active” pews (to be store in “inactive pews”)

  • Entering:

    • 6-foot markers on ramp leading into church

    • Masks required

    • Hand sanitizer station at doors (entrances, exits and bathroom)

    • Usher at door utilizes a checklist of all members to mark attendance as people enter

      • Helps not only with attendance (in lieu of passing the friendship pad), but also with contact tracing in case needed (of course, we hope to never have to use)

    • Usher direct family member to available open section (details below)

  • Bathroom:

    • Only the single bathroom just outside the sanctuary open with “attendant” onsite to clean after each use

  • Exiting:

    • Ushers would guide rows out by section (starting with far-left section when facing the altar), row by row

    • Anyone requiring the ramp would be asked to remain seated until rest of pews were cleared, then guided out the door with the ramp

  • Capacity:

    • 4-foot sections will be marked by pew, assuming a max of 2 family members per section

      • Non-family will not be permitted to sit in same section so it’s possible a section could have only 1 person

    • Every other pew is skipped (leaving one empty between rows and directly across from each section)

      • Example, first row in center section is next to the 2nd row on the left side (when facing the altar).  First row in center section is “active” while 2nd row on left side is not active

      • “Active pews” and sections will be marked for ushers to seat accordingly

    • There will be 6 feet between sections within the same pew (most pews have 2 sections; a few could accommodate 3 sections; one pew has only 1 section)

    • We assumed 1 person at the computer table and 1 person at the pew directly to the right of that table (against the wall)

    • When using the above methodology, we calculated a max capacity of 50 people if every section had 2 people (a better estimate would be about 30 if we assume 1.2 per section on average)

  • This plan/document is not intended to address Committee Meetings or Small Group Meetings; those will continue to be online until further notice




  • Due to limited seating, reservations will be required and can be made by emailing or calling the church office by 3pm on Thursday.  Explore use of “save a seat” if it can accommodate “family units” (sections “locked” by family unit).  Also look at “meet up.com”

    • Walk-ins:  we always want to welcome visitors.  Therefore, we are reserving a few seats in all in person services for visitors

    • Dedicated seats will be kept for the Financial Secretary, an Usher(s), and audio/video equipment operator

    • “Rotation” approach:

      • If a service is at capacity, an individual who calls for a reservation will be given first access to the next service they want to attend

      • If the same group of individuals are always “first on the list”, they will be asked to give up their spot for someone else

  • The doors will open 30 minutes before the worship service begins.

  • Be sure to complete the pre-screening requested before attending in-person service (details below).

  • Proceed to the side sanctuary entrance (ramp entrance)

  • Upon entering:  Ushers will check you in; your temperature will be taken; you will be asked to use hand sanitizer and be reminded to keep your mask on

  • You will probably not be able to sit in your “preferred” seat; please follow the ushers’ guidance

  • The Pastor will not wear a mask as he leads worship so he can be heard clearly; he will remain at the altar which is adequate distance from the first pews

  • The offering will be received as you place your gift in a basket when you enter and/or small box.; all online forms of giving will continue, and you can still mail your check to the office

  • Livestream will continue via new camera system to be installed

    • Verl, Ed and Don to be trained on how to use the new equipment; others TBD as part of a future phase

  • There will be not be before/after in-person fellowship inside the building; outside fellowship after service will be allowed in the parking lot following social distancing requirements

    • Post-service fellowship will also continue via Zoom immediately following service

  • There will be no bulletins, bibles or hymnals in the pews

  • No singing in the pews will be allowed

  • Music is at the discretion of the Pastor and Music Director.  As noted, no singing in the pews will be allowed.  However:

    • The Music Director will be allowed to play live on the organ/piano

    • Utilizing the choir section with a clear shower curtain hung in front (from the projection screen), a soloist and/or “family” duet will be allowed to sing (standing behind the curtain).  See “future phases” for additional information

    • Pre-recorded selections will also continue to be used

  • Communion will be done via single-serve packages (gluten free); ushers will distribute using gloves

    • Usher will be available to assist with opening as needed

  • Scripture readings will be pre-recorded if a liturgist is uncomfortable attending service; in-person in a designated spot with enough distancing (JN area possible)

  • We will NOT have Sunday School or nursery at this time.  Children are welcome to attend worship and will be counted as one of the total number of worshippers and expected to follow all the same protocols.  Children under 2 years old will not be required to wear a mask

  • Ushers will go through updated training on all new protocols.

    • Ushers will have name tags noting they are “Ushers”


Personal Protection:

  • The church will have automated hand sanitizer dispensers available at the entrance, in the sanctuary, at the bathroom and at the exit

  • Forehead thermometers will be used for screening upon entering

  • Bringing your own mask will be preferred, but the Church will have stock of disposable masks available

  • Trash cans will be at the entrance/exits for mask disposable


Pre-Screening Guidelines:

In-person attendees are asked to pre-screen themselves.  If you can answer “yes” to any of the below, we ask that you please stay home and take care of yourself.

  • Do you have any of the following without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants)?


  • Fever of 100.4° F or greater or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea


  • Are you well, but caring for someone at home with COVID-19?


  • In the past two weeks, have you been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or visited a place where COVID-19 is spreading?


Third-party building usage:

All third parties using our facilities will be required to:

  • Have a valid lease between the outside entity and the church

  • Proof of liability insurance from the lessee at levels recommended by Church Mutual

    • When possible, removal of any exclusion on the insurance policy for viruses (sometimes called a “communicable disease” clause)

  • Follow all the same protocol as FUMC; clean sanctuary and all “high touch” points after use



  • Communication of the plan to the congregation will consist of:

    • Posting on the church website

    • Link to the site via the Newsletter

    • Mentioning the availability of the document via Sunday announcements

    • A robocall will also be sent directing people where to find the document and have it mailed to them if necessary

  • New signage required includes the following; sourcing TBD but Pastor Manny may have a contact who may do for free (or inexpensively):

    • Two signs indicating front door and side door leading into lobby adjacent fellowship hall are closed.  Arrows leading to sanctuary door.

      • These signs to be bi-lingual (English and Spanish)

    • An exterior and interior sign indicating CDC guidelines (using pictures) to wash hands, wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

      • To be placed inside and outside the entrance door (side door of sanctuary)

  • Communication to third parties will include:

    • A copy of this document outlining our protocols

    • A letter noting that they are required to follow our protocols and arrange for after use cleaning and/or pay a cleaning fee.

  • Ongoing communications to the congregation and/or third parties will follow the same process noted above.


Future Phases:

  • Consider building/purchasing additional screens (shields) for additional singers (possible placement include   sides of alters, side section of choir loft, Joyful Noise area)

  • Overflow – several options were considered to accommodate “overflow” attendees (Wesley Hall, classrooms, fellowship area) which would include TV screens to watch the service.  This is certainly something that needs to be determined (particularly with Christmas approaching).  Currently, the team did not want to further complicate the plan until we learn more with the current capacity restrictions and understand the “demand” for seating.

  • Second service and/or outside service, at the discretion of Pastor with details to be worked out if deemed necessary.

  • An air filtration system will be at the discretion of the Trustees; separate from this plan (not required).


Re-opening Committee Members:

Ed Bowen

Bob Duarte

Jane Healton

Larry Jamison

Don Johnson

Pastor Manny Maragoto (Seventh Day Adventist Church)

Verl McKinney

Kathy Mulholland

Gayle Trulli

Pastor Wil Wilson

Rob Zuckerman


Administrative Council:

The re-opening plan was approved by the Administrative Council 8/11/20. 

© 2018 First United Methodist Church of Freehold, NJ


91 West Main Street
Freehold, NJ 07728

The Cross and Flame is a registered trademark and the use is supervised by the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church. Permission to use the Cross and Flame must be obtained from the General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church:

Legal Department, GCFA Post Office Box 340029 Nashville, TN 37203-0029 Phone: 615-369-2334 



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