On May 9, Governor Northam signed Executive Order 61 (PDF) outlining Phase I in the easing of temporary restrictions due to COVID-19. For most of the state, this phase begins May 15. For northern Virginia, City of Richmond, and Accomack County, Phase I is delayed to May 29 via Executive Order 62 (PDF).
Presbytery of the James leaders continue to expect sessions to follow the Governor's Executive Orders when making decisions about worship. The final decision is ultimately made by the session, including the pastors and associate pastors who are members of the respective sessions.
- Continue with remote worship (including drive-in worship) until after June 10 (Executive Order 55)
- Hold a hybrid remote worship where pastors, musicians (no choir), elders, and deacons broadcast from the church (physically distanced from one another) while worshipers attend from home
- Reopen the church for worship under Phase I's requirements (facial coverings, physical distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, hymns/songs/bulletin projection, and no room in the building exceeding the 50% occupancy rule)
Some have found it wise to check with their insurance carriers to make certain that insurance will protect the church should some unanticipated health crisis occur that is traced to the reopened church building.
Resources abound across our denomination and other faith communities regarding how and when we should reopen our churches for worship. Two resources shared in FYI on May 1 were:
- Returning to Church (PDF), Wisconsin Council of Churches
- 24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return, Ken Braddy
POJ leadership will continue to provide updates as we learn them. Please know that the churches and ministries of the POJ remain in our prayers as we seek to discern God's will, "what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).