The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce is reposting this letter from Pastor Tom McCracken to his congregation about their reopening procedures to provide ideas for other places of worship. Please also see this Lifeway Research survey designed to assist churches in developing their reopening plan.

My Wonderful CommUNITY Church Friend,

These are both exciting and difficult times in which we live; exciting because we know God is using this tragedy for triumph, and difficult because we are weak, and struggle more than we would like to admit. Yet, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel as our leaders are considering reopening our state which will include our church campus. However, we are autonomous which means we do not have to go at the speed at which other organizations may employ in getting back to normal but have the liberty to create our own transitional timeline. That being said, in order to develop and implement a plan for our congregation, I would like to know how you are feeling now and when you personally would be comfortable making the transition back when that time comes. Therefore, I have included a survey, produced by LifeWay Research that I would like you to fill out and either mail to the church (CommUNITY Church, 1923 East Main Street, Salem VA 24153), or drop off during one of our drive-in services.

In addition, I do have certain elements established for when we do initially come back:

• Weekly sanitization of all areas used • No small group meetings: Sunday School, Children’s Church, Nursery, Youth, WMU, Senior’s, etc.

• Families will be required to sit together in the sanctuary • We will obey any number limit imposed by our state \

• A 10-foot distance will be enforced in the sanctuary and marked off on the pews by tape

• We will not use the Hymnals, but will have all words to the cooperate songs on the screens in the sanctuary

• The elderly and vulnerable will be encouraged to remain at home, taking advantage of our online offerings

• The financial offering will be hands free by forgoing our traditional usher/plate method to be replaced with a basket at each entrance/exit. In addition, we will continue to offer our online giving through our website.

• Masks will be recommended for all in attendance and required for all staff, parking lot attendees, greeters, money counters, and those in our video/audio booth

• We will not have bulletins, but will display all information on the screens in our sanctuary during the pre-service time

• All entry/exit doors will be propped open until 11:10 when they will be shut and locked, then when the service is over, those doors will be propped open again to accommodate touchless entry/exit

• There will be no physical contact allowed on the campus: parking lot, hallways, bathrooms, sanctuary, etc.

• Hand sanitizing stations have been installed and will be available at each entrance/exit

• The educational building will remain off limits until a full-reopening is implemented

• There will be a plan in place to dismiss everyone in sections once the service is over to assist in social distancing

While this bullet list is not exhaustive and is ever-growing/changing, I hope it provides some confidence that we have a holistic plan as your safety is a priority.

I do appreciate your attention to the survey and thank you, in advance, for getting them back to me as soon as possible. I also wanted to thank those that have faithfully maintained their good financial stewardship as our expenses have remain basically the same through all of this, in spite of the campus being closed. Because of your financial faithfulness, we have been able to meet or even exceed our budget!

God bless you!

Your Pastor,

Tom McCracken

**We will have a “trial” service on 5/31 that will be recorded and then made available to all in our community. And then 6/7 a full service with all safety precautions in full force.