COVID-19 Re-Opening Detailed Plan

Effective Date: 8.22.2020


Provide on-site and virtual events designed to safely and effectively serve the entire congregation and attract new participants from our community.

Initial Virtual & Onsite Event Plan:

  1. Continue Sunday morning live streaming at 10:30AM and explore ways to enhance the quality of this experience. 

  2. Continue our outdoor middle & high school program on Friday nights.

  3. Continue virtual mid-week service.

  4. Continue virtual small group meetings.

  5. Continue virtual Sunday evenings with Dr. Miller, pre-recorded.

  6. Begin a Sunday morning on-site event, indoors for live attendees. 

  7. Begin an on-site outdoor preaching event on Saturday at 7:00PM.


The staff, deacons and trustees have spent many hours considering regulations for each of the aforementioned on-site events. While Gospel’s leadership will strive to create a safe environment, non-exposure to COVID-19 or other illnesses cannot be guaranteed as these on-site events are technically mass gatherings. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services produced, in our opinion, the best document for church reopening guidance, entitled: Interim Guidance for Places of Worship and Religious Services. The guidance in this document provides tips for churches in each of the following categories:

  1. Social Distancing & Minimizing Exposure 

  2. Cloth Face Coverings 

  3. Cleaning & Hygiene 

  4. Monitoring for Symptoms 

  5. Protecting Vulnerable Populations

  6. Combatting Misinformation

  7. Water and Ventilation Systems 

Therefore, the staff has designed protocols based on the state’s guidance for each of the recommended 

on-site events in the following ways:

Sunday Morning auditorium service on-site at 10:30AM

Considerations for on-site attendance:

  1. Those who have experienced or who have been in contact with someone who has experienced the following symptoms (within the last 14 days) should not attend on-site events:

    1. Fever, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, new cough, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dizziness, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting, upset stomach.  

  2. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers some individuals especially vulnerable to COVID-19 based on specific criteria. We encourage those who fall into this vulnerable category to continue participating virtually. The CDC considers people especially vulnerable who:

    1. are over the age of 65 or have: chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, a serious heart condition, a compromised immune system, diabetes, a need for dialysis, liver disease, or a body mass index of 40 or higher.

  3. Social-distancing limitations: While Gospel strives to ensure your ability to socially distance in the building, we cannot guarantee it, particularly in common spaces, such as the lobby, hallways and restrooms.

  4. Attendees are reminded that in compliance with NC Executive Order 147 people should wear face coverings in-doors. It is our preference that all who attend utilize a face covering and the church will provide one if requested. However, the executive order also provides an exception category, for which no proof is required. Therefore, our auditorium attendants are trained to use discretion in seating and will strive to be accommodating to individual requests.


Upon Arrival:

  1. Front Doors will open at 9:45AM, auditorium doors will open at 10:00AM. Please plan to arrive by 10:20AM. 

  2. Everyone’s temperature will be checked at the front door (staff, volunteers & attendees) to ensure body temperature is <100.4 degrees.

  3. In the lobby, our check-in team will record attendees each week utilizing planning center software so appropriate contacts can be made should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified. 

  4. Touchless hand sanitizing stations will be available at entrance/exit points along with a small trash can for waste. Tissues will be available at check-in.   

  5. We have striven to create a touchless as possible experience:

    1. All doors will be open upon arrival, HVAC Fans will be running before-after service.

    2. Church leadership is considering a motion activated upgrade to bathrooms & door openers being installed from the inside. (Lobby, 2nd floor & Gym)

    3. Water fountains will be unavailable and instead, small bottles of water will be provided. 

    4. Bibles, hymnals, pencils and pew materials will be removed from the auditorium.

    5. No physical bulletins to be distributed. If paper announcements are necessary, they will be handed out as people are leaving. 

    6. Any communion services will utilize prepackaged elements.

  6. Seating arrangements: 

    1. Our auditorium attendants will structure seating. Every other pew will be available for seating and households will be seated 6’ apart. 

    2. Visitor seating will be reserved in the auditorium

    3. Our youth room and 2nd floor children’s rooms will be used for over-flow seating.

    4. Children should sit with their families as there will be no children’s ministry. Changing stations are available in main restrooms

  7. No access to nurseries, children’s rooms, gym, banquet hall, kitchen, choir room or other non-overflow classrooms. 


While Here:

  1. Congregational singing: evidence suggests droplets that spread viral infections can be released at a much greater rate when one is singing. Therefore, we ask only those wearing a face covering participate in congregational singing. 

  2. Offering plates will not be passed. Instead, offering boxes will be available in the main lobby. 

  3. There will be no choir. 

  4. After the cue for the completion of live streaming, auditorium attendants will dismiss the auditorium by sections (back to front), utilizing various exits. Those in the overflow rooms will be encouraged to exit through the north and south stair wells.

  5. Routine cleaning & sanitizing will continue as normal, between on-site events. Fogging of the sanctuary and common areas will occur at the staff’s discretion. If a second Sunday morning service is developed fogging must take place between the services. 

On-site, Outdoor SATURDAY 7:00PM

  1. This service will be similar to Sunday morning and will be in the shaded font parking lot. A Saturday time slot as opposed to Sunday allows for less conflict with school schedules, may encourage visitors as this is a less formal environment, gives more opportunity for socially-distanced fellowship, and is less taxing on the speaker while providing a second service.

  2. Attendees should check-in with a volunteer beginning at 6:30PM.

  3. Hand sanitizer stations, masks, tissues and water will be available. 

  4. The gym will be reserved each week for a rain plan.

  5. Attendees will be asked to bring their own chair and socially distance by households.


COVID-19 Positive/COVID-19 Exposure Response Plan 

  1. In the event Gospel is notified of an individual who has tested positive or is presumed positive (showing symptoms, awaiting results) within 14 days of having attended an on-site event, the staff reserves discretion to determine on a case-by-case basis to either: 

    1. Transition that particular on-site event to an on-line only format for 14 calendar days.

    2. Clean/fog affected areas and move to the increased security check-in plan. (see below) 

  2. In the event Gospel is notified of a person who attended an on-site event who has been exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19, an increased security check-in will be adhered to for the next 14 calendar days for all on-site events. Increased security check-in will include screening questions and procedures listed below:

Temperatures will continue to be taken and screening questions will be added to the check-in process:

  1. In the last 14 days, have you been sick with any of the following symptoms: fever, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, new cough, diarrhea, nausea, headache, dizziness, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting, upset stomach? 

  2. In the last 14 days, have you come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19? 

  3. If someone answers yes to either of the questions we will ask that individual not to serve or attend any on-site events until all questions can be answered with a ‘no’. 


Next Steps: GBC Staff is dedicated to staying attuned to what is going on in our state and localities and will adjust as necessary. We will evaluate and refine our processes on a weekly basis at our staff meeting. 


Gospel’s deacons, trustees and staff have approved this initial reopening plan and are excited to provide expanded options for all of our congregation. Looking ahead, we hope to continue this expansion by:   

  • Beginning in-person children’s ministry. 

  • Creating an improved and expanded live nativity.

  • Removing the necessity of symptom monitoring with temperature checks, when appropriate.

  • Beginning a second Sunday morning indoor, in-person service (this need will be measured by occupancy of over-flow areas at the 10:30AM service).

  • Having a choir.

  • Meeting in-person on Wednesday nights.

  • Developing small groups and pastor connects that maximize our week and simplify the week for participants.

  • Developing an in-person, Thursday morning gathering geared toward senior citizens  

  • Developing the Saturday Evening service for in-doors when weather will no longer permit out-door.

  • Making decisions on facility use for outside groups, potentially beginning in September

  • Etc.


As we navigate unusual circumstances we realize these weekly events are different than before and may need additional adjustments to best serve our congregation. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns.


We appreciate your cooperation and enthusiasm as we continue to move forward. May we join our hearts in prayer for the Lord’s continued guidance.


For references which were critical to our decision making click here.