Humming joyful hymns behind masks (is not something out of the Twilight Zone!)

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GO3838

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So I went to a United Church yesterday - one of the few that was open for face-to-face worship on Sunday, June 28th. (Note: this church had submitted their reopening plan to their region, and had received approval to open.)

This was my first face-to-face worship in a church since mid-March.

I wanted to share what worked and what didn't, as some of you may be wrestling with how churches can re-open.

So I was greeted outside on the sidewalk before walking in to the church. The usher had a bottle of hand sanitizer (optional.)
I had brought my mask with me, as I saw on their website the day before that worshippers were required to wear masks or face shields.
The usher told me to sit at any pew where there was not an "X", so I donned my mask, and in I went, and selected a non'"X" pew.
(Memo to self: when my church reopens in Sept, suggest to them that we should mark where we CAN sit, not where we CAN'T. I don't let seeing pews with "X"
on them. I would rather see pews with... rainbows, maybe? the word "welcome" in a colourful dot? Much more cheerful, and looks more welcoming.)

Without a doubt, the highlight of the service was the music. We were told that we could hum the hymns behind our masks. So we did. All the hymns were played on the piano,
so we could hear the humming. (I doubt we would have heard the humming if they were played on the organ.) The humming was beautiful. I knew I'd missed singing in church, but I had no idea how much until that moment. If anyone had told me six months ago that 20 people wearing cloth and paper masks would all be humming "Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise"
I would have thought that a bizarre image, maybe from a parallel universe or the Twilight Zone. But it was beautiful, and uplifting.

One lowlight to pass on; something to think about. During the sermon, I was passed a clipboard. The note on it said "Please write down your name and phone number for contact tracing, in case needed." Now I have no objection to leaving my name and number for contact tracing. However, there were no other names or numbers on the clipboard. Since I was a visitor, they assumed that if there were going to be any COVID-19 spread from this gathering, then it must come from me. The implication was that I, an unknown alien to this congregation, was of much higher risk to infect others than the members of this congregation. I signed the clipboard without comment, and handed it back, but I felt very unwelcome at that point.

Memo to self: it's a good idea to record the names of those who attend a face-to-face worship service for contact tracing. But that means that everyone's name should be recorded, and there should be transparency about it. The truth is that anyone -member or adherent or visitor - could be a carrier, and could spread the virus (although unlikely when we're physically distanced, and all wearing masks.) The ushers could record the names of people who attend the service as they walk in the doors. (And most will likely know most of the people who attend, and so may not need to ask a lot of people their names. But then the visitor sees that everyone's name is being recorded for contact tracing. I think that's much better than passing a clipboard to a visitor during the sermon, where they see no other names on the clipboard, and realize they they are "the alien" in the pews.

Anyway, those are my reflections from my first face-to-face worship in the era of COVID-19.
 

Mendalla

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One lowlight to pass on; something to think about. During the sermon, I was passed a clipboard. The note on it said "Please write down your name and phone number for contact tracing, in case needed." Now I have no objection to leaving my name and number for contact tracing. However, there were no other names or numbers on the clipboard. Since I was a visitor, they assumed that if there were going to be any COVID-19 spread from this gathering, then it must come from me. The implication was that I, an unknown alien to this congregation, was of much higher risk to infect others than the members of this congregation. I signed the clipboard without comment, and handed it back, but I felt very unwelcome at that point.
To be fair, perhaps they assumed members could be traced using the church database so that they only needed to collect "unknowns". Still agree with you, because how do they know which members where there, but that implication may not have occurred to them and they may not have been "targetting" visitors as "potential threats" so much as "people we might need to contact".
 

Northwind

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Thanks for sharing this @GO3838. I agree with you comment about the x's. Inviting people to sit somewhere is much better than telling them where not to sit

I love the image of humming such a familiar hymn.
 

ChemGal

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So I went to a United Church yesterday - one of the few that was open for face-to-face worship on Sunday, June 28th. (Note: this church had submitted their reopening plan to their region, and had received approval to open.)

This was my first face-to-face worship in a church since mid-March.

I wanted to share what worked and what didn't, as some of you may be wrestling with how churches can re-open.

So I was greeted outside on the sidewalk before walking in to the church. The usher had a bottle of hand sanitizer (optional.)
I had brought my mask with me, as I saw on their website the day before that worshippers were required to wear masks or face shields.
The usher told me to sit at any pew where there was not an "X", so I donned my mask, and in I went, and selected a non'"X" pew.
(Memo to self: when my church reopens in Sept, suggest to them that we should mark where we CAN sit, not where we CAN'T. I don't let seeing pews with "X"
on them. I would rather see pews with... rainbows, maybe? the word "welcome" in a colourful dot? Much more cheerful, and looks more welcoming.)

Without a doubt, the highlight of the service was the music. We were told that we could hum the hymns behind our masks. So we did. All the hymns were played on the piano,
so we could hear the humming. (I doubt we would have heard the humming if they were played on the organ.) The humming was beautiful. I knew I'd missed singing in church, but I had no idea how much until that moment. If anyone had told me six months ago that 20 people wearing cloth and paper masks would all be humming "Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise"
I would have thought that a bizarre image, maybe from a parallel universe or the Twilight Zone. But it was beautiful, and uplifting.

One lowlight to pass on; something to think about. During the sermon, I was passed a clipboard. The note on it said "Please write down your name and phone number for contact tracing, in case needed." Now I have no objection to leaving my name and number for contact tracing. However, there were no other names or numbers on the clipboard. Since I was a visitor, they assumed that if there were going to be any COVID-19 spread from this gathering, then it must come from me. The implication was that I, an unknown alien to this congregation, was of much higher risk to infect others than the members of this congregation. I signed the clipboard without comment, and handed it back, but I felt very unwelcome at that point.

Memo to self: it's a good idea to record the names of those who attend a face-to-face worship service for contact tracing. But that means that everyone's name should be recorded, and there should be transparency about it. The truth is that anyone -member or adherent or visitor - could be a carrier, and could spread the virus (although unlikely when we're physically distanced, and all wearing masks.) The ushers could record the names of people who attend the service as they walk in the doors. (And most will likely know most of the people who attend, and so may not need to ask a lot of people their names. But then the visitor sees that everyone's name is being recorded for contact tracing. I think that's much better than passing a clipboard to a visitor during the sermon, where they see no other names on the clipboard, and realize they they are "the alien" in the pews.

Anyway, those are my reflections from my first face-to-face worship in the era of COVID-19.
I don't get the assumption there with the name & number. If you were to have SARS-CoV-2 and were the one to bring it in, you would need to be contacting the church, not the other way around. If the church contacts you, that means that they are concerned someone could have spread it to you.
If you were singled out with a note to take home with the date & place you were and a number to call (ie. the church's) if you were to experience symptoms or test positive and others were not I could see that as being implied you were the risk to others.
 

ChemGal

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As for the markings, it's a very different situation, but our lake does both on the sidewalk for the lineup in. Checks of where to stand and Xs of where to skip.
 

GO3838

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If you were singled out with a note to take home with the date & place you were and a number to call (ie. the church's) if you were to experience symptoms or t
Hi Chemgal,
I was not passed a note to take home. I was passed a clipboard with a note to please write down my name and phone number for their records, for contact tracing. There were no other names or phone numbers on the sheet. In my opinion, if a church is going to keep attendance records for the purposes of contact tracing, then they need to record the names of everyone there for that particular service. That way, if there is an outbreak traced to that particular worship service, then they can phone everyone who attended that particular service (whether a regular member or a visitor.) And they should be open about it, and explain that before the service begins.

I did not feel welcome to have a clipboard passed to me (and only to me) in the middle of the service. I felt singled out, and there was an implication that if there was going to be an outbreak from this particular service, then it had to come from me, as I was a stranger in their midst.
 

ChemGal

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Hi Chemgal,
I was not passed a note to take home. I was passed a clipboard with a note to please write down my name and phone number for their records, for contact tracing. There were no other names or phone numbers on the sheet. In my opinion, if a church is going to keep attendance records for the purposes of contact tracing, then they need to record the names of everyone there for that particular service. That way, if there is an outbreak traced to that particular worship service, then they can phone everyone who attended that particular service (whether a regular member or a visitor.) And they should be open about it, and explain that before the service begins.

I did not feel welcome to have a clipboard passed to me (and only to me) in the middle of the service. I felt singled out, and there was an implication that if there was going to be an outbreak from this particular service, then it had to come from me, as I was a stranger in their midst.
I understand it's uncomfortable to be singled out. I don't understand how there's the implication that you're bringing it in though, to me the implication is the opposite. Providing contact information is about others giving it to you and allowing you to be contacted.
That's my point - if they gave you their contact information to take home it's implying you are the risk to them - they didn't do that.

Taking your contact information is saying hey, you being here may be a risk to you, and everyone you live with. So we'll get your info and if there's the possibility we have made you sick, we will inform you so that you can know your own health may be at risk and hopefully you don't spread it to your family, people you work with, etc.
 
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Inannawhimsey

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So I went to a United Church yesterday - one of the few that was open for face-to-face worship on Sunday, June 28th. (Note: this church had submitted their reopening plan to their region, and had received approval to open.)

This was my first face-to-face worship in a church since mid-March.

I wanted to share what worked and what didn't, as some of you may be wrestling with how churches can re-open.

So I was greeted outside on the sidewalk before walking in to the church. The usher had a bottle of hand sanitizer (optional.)
I had brought my mask with me, as I saw on their website the day before that worshippers were required to wear masks or face shields.
The usher told me to sit at any pew where there was not an "X", so I donned my mask, and in I went, and selected a non'"X" pew.
(Memo to self: when my church reopens in Sept, suggest to them that we should mark where we CAN sit, not where we CAN'T. I don't let seeing pews with "X"
on them. I would rather see pews with... rainbows, maybe? the word "welcome" in a colourful dot? Much more cheerful, and looks more welcoming.)

Without a doubt, the highlight of the service was the music. We were told that we could hum the hymns behind our masks. So we did. All the hymns were played on the piano,
so we could hear the humming. (I doubt we would have heard the humming if they were played on the organ.) The humming was beautiful. I knew I'd missed singing in church, but I had no idea how much until that moment. If anyone had told me six months ago that 20 people wearing cloth and paper masks would all be humming "Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise"
I would have thought that a bizarre image, maybe from a parallel universe or the Twilight Zone. But it was beautiful, and uplifting.

One lowlight to pass on; something to think about. During the sermon, I was passed a clipboard. The note on it said "Please write down your name and phone number for contact tracing, in case needed." Now I have no objection to leaving my name and number for contact tracing. However, there were no other names or numbers on the clipboard. Since I was a visitor, they assumed that if there were going to be any COVID-19 spread from this gathering, then it must come from me. The implication was that I, an unknown alien to this congregation, was of much higher risk to infect others than the members of this congregation. I signed the clipboard without comment, and handed it back, but I felt very unwelcome at that point.

Memo to self: it's a good idea to record the names of those who attend a face-to-face worship service for contact tracing. But that means that everyone's name should be recorded, and there should be transparency about it. The truth is that anyone -member or adherent or visitor - could be a carrier, and could spread the virus (although unlikely when we're physically distanced, and all wearing masks.) The ushers could record the names of people who attend the service as they walk in the doors. (And most will likely know most of the people who attend, and so may not need to ask a lot of people their names. But then the visitor sees that everyone's name is being recorded for contact tracing. I think that's much better than passing a clipboard to a visitor during the sermon, where they see no other names on the clipboard, and realize they they are "the alien" in the pews.

Anyway, those are my reflections from my first face-to-face worship in the era of COVID-19.
Hello again GO3838

What an experience, eh? You are fortunate. Did you find yourself more on the outside at all? Did you find yourself more awkward at all? Did you find any of the proceedings to seem more...arbitrary or somehow fake or made up?

#MutualAid
#BeNotAfraid
#SystemicWhimsey
#JoyPrivilege
 

GO3838

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Hi Inannawhimsey,

Did you find any of the proceedings to seem more...arbitrary or somehow fake or made up?
The proceedings definitely didn't feel normal. (As just about nothing feels normal - whether going to the grocery store, going to the hospital, or going to church.) But it didn't feel fake or made up: it felt like we were all doing our best to cope with a situation we hadn't coped with before.
 

GO3838

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So today, July 5, I went to another United Church that had Region permission to offer face-to-face worship services.

I was greeted by someone just outside the church door, sitting at a table with a list. As she was greeting people, she was writing their names down for contact tracing. So this time it wasn't just visitors on the list - everyone who attended that service was on the list, including the church staff. That was definitely a more inclusive way to do it.
 

revsdd

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I'd agree that the second way was more inclusive but I also agree that the first church was not sending a message that you were more likely to spread germs. It was, as chemgal said, the other way around. They needed to be able to contact you if any of their regulars present tested positive. They understand contact tracing but even if they knew everyone else should have had everyone sign to avoid the problem you experienced. I'd encourage you to cut them some slack. We're all trying to do the best we can and sometimes mistakes get made.
 

GO3838

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For sure, revsdd, their intentions were good. And this pandemic situation is new to all of us, and like any new situation, it's trial and error.

My posting the info here was not to rant a tirade at that church, but to pass on info. about reopening. My own church isn't reopening until Sept. 6th, and there are many here on the Wondercafe2 whose churches haven't opened their doors again yet, and we're all giving ideas and suggestions as to how we can do it well. I will go back to that church again (but some other visitor might who experienced that might not.) So I am cutting them slack in that I don't hold a grudge (but someone else might.) I just wanted to pass the info. on so others can hear the feedback about what it's like to be in a visitor's shoes.
 

jimkenney12

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Deep River Community Church places bulletins on the pews on Friday morning where we want people or couples to sit. Everyone's name is recorded on entry. I appreciated the comment about the beauty of the humming and will share that with our worship committee. The lining up before with sanitizer and the careful dismissal afterward follows the protocols set out by Toronto Public Health. The Broadview email promoting their summer issue started with a story about a congregation where everyone brought their own bread for communion and had juice boxes. I cringed at the juice box part but do not have a worthy alternative. I believe they had communion outside but am not sure from the article. We had close to 30 people for June 28 and close to 20 for July 5.

I wish everyone well in this interesting time. This morning I sent an email to the members of the search committee for a church I am supervising to encourage them to use WonderCafe2 as an way for their members to have asynchronous discussions. I am grateful for being part of this community and intend to be more involved as I discontinued most of my participation in FaceBook. Shalom.
 

ChemGal

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For sure, revsdd, their intentions were good. And this pandemic situation is new to all of us, and like any new situation, it's trial and error.

My posting the info here was not to rant a tirade at that church, but to pass on info. about reopening. My own church isn't reopening until Sept. 6th, and there are many here on the Wondercafe2 whose churches haven't opened their doors again yet, and we're all giving ideas and suggestions as to how we can do it well. I will go back to that church again (but some other visitor might who experienced that might not.) So I am cutting them slack in that I don't hold a grudge (but someone else might.) I just wanted to pass the info. on so others can hear the feedback about what it's like to be in a visitor's shoes.
You're being unfair though in stating they were treating you like you were the risk to them. Their actions showed moreso care towards you, not protection for them with the contact info.
 

GO3838

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I am only relating how I felt, Chemgal.
It may have been their intent to care and it may have been their intent to protect.
But the impact of singling me out made me feel like an alien. The impact of passing me a clipboard and asking me to write my name (when there were no other names on it) made me feel that they were suspicious of me.

I'm not passing judgement on their intentions - I'm just suggesting that this is "what not to do" in terms of contact tracing.
(And I've found out that churches should not be passing out clipboards and a pen in the pew. The list should be handled by one person, at the church's entrance.) I do believe that putting myself in the shoes of a visitor every once in a while helps me keep an inclusive perspective.
 

Northwind

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You're being unfair though in stating they were treating you like you were the risk to them.
GO's feelings are GO's feelings.

I am only relating how I felt, Chemgal.
It may have been their intent to care and it may have been their intent to protect.
But the impact of singling me out made me feel like an alien.
I might have felt the same. Did you give them your feedback? It might help them to know your reaction.
 

GO3838

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If the opportune moment arises, I will give them that feedback.
But I'm not going to call up the church office some 2 weeks later and say "Oh boy the way...."Because that might cause them to feel bad.
The protocols that come from this pandemic are new to all of us, and we're all doing our best.
I
 

ChemGal

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GO's feelings are GO's feelings.
I acknowledged the feelings part. There was an assumption (of an assumption) in the OP -
Since I was a visitor, they assumed that if there were going to be any COVID-19 spread from this gathering, then it must come from me. The implication was that I, an unknown alien to this congregation, was of much higher risk to infect others than the members of this congregation.
and I don't follow the logic.
I do very much agree that it can be uncomfortable to be singled out in that way.
 

revsdd

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Agree with chemgal. Perhaps it was unintentional, but the way GO3838 worded the above sentence ("they assumed ..." "the implication was ...") sounds like an accusation or judgement rather than just just a feeling on his part. The feeling ("I felt very unwelcome ...) seems to have been a reaction to his perception of their intentions. I don't disagree that the way the congregation handled things could well have made anyone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, but there's definitely an unfortunate attribution of motive in the words "they assumed ..." and "the implication was ..." that I doubt was there.

I'm just suggesting that we need to be careful about imputing motive without real evidence right now, when we're all working our way through unfamiliar territory and honest mistakes do get made.
 

GO3838

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Then I stand corrected and reprimanded.

(And if you read my Wondercafe2 profile, you'll see I identify as female.) :)

(I'd say there's a lesson for everyone in this thread about assumptions.....:unsure:
 
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