Re-entry team presents updates from first two meetings

The re-entry team has met three times and agreed on some principles initiated by Randy Ellis to guide their decision making.

Guiding principles

  • State. Comply with any legal requirements imposed by the state of Massachusetts (
  • Science. Rely on science and best available knowledge about COVID-19 and its prevention, treatment, and consequences, referring to to stay up to date. 
  • Flexibility. Make plans now with the understanding that we will need to make adjustments over time. Avoid changes that will be hard to undo once the threats of COVID-19 have diminished.  
  • Prudence. Spend money cautiously on efforts that may be short-lived.
  • Acceptance. Understand that various members, friends, visitors, staff, and tenants face different risks and will have different preferences; welcome these differences.
  • Unity. Strive not to split the congregation; serve the segments. 

The team has established working groups, each with an area of focus.

Building (Sarah Eberly, Randy Ellis, Jim Harper)

  • Create documentation in case it is requested by state 
  • Check tenant leases and reword if necessary to place responsibility for compliance with state of Massachusetts guidelines on tenants (Hugh Starkey)
  • Identify ways to ensure compliance among tenants with NHCC Interim Guidelines for Building Use 
  • Add signs (or possibly physical barriers) in building
    • Signs already in place except bathrooms
  • Consider locking areas that are off-limits to tenants
    • Looking into feasibility
  • Stay in regular contact with tenants (Sarah Eberly)
  • Require masks 
  • Research and identify company that can do daily (?) cleanings of doorknobs and other high-touch areas
  • Ventilation in Great Hall (Dennis Rieske looking into reactivating exhaust fan)

Worship (Ken Baily, Sally Brickell, Jeff Small)

At NHCC our founding documents call us to “worship, grow and serve.” 

Worship is the time when we strive to give thanks and listen to God, and when we speak our pleas, prayers, and promises not only to God, but to one another in community (or covenant). That is, we build up one another in the image and way of Christ.


The deacons are considering several after-worship events, outdoors, weather permitting. 


One day we will reclaim most of the traditional practices of sanctuary worship. At that time, our helpful and necessary practices are expected to be as follows:

  • Start organ music at 9:40 a.m. (for 10:00 a.m. service)
  • Encourage early arrivals to undertake gradual, spaced entry
  • Ask congregants to enter through main entrance if physically able; advise all to leave through one exit (not the same as entrance)                      
  • Have deacons take attendance at all entrances, asking for names of any visitors/unknown guests (for possible contact tracing)
  • Hold attendance at 40 percent of sanctuary capacity, generally closing every other pew
  • Have household groups sit together, but ask others to sit physically distant
  • Require masks (for attendees age 5 and up); give disposable masks to anyone who doesn’t bring one
  • Suspend passing of the peace
  • Suspend passing of offering plates
  • Delay communion until further guidance
  • Adjust some singing until further notice
  • When restoring fellowship time, have attendees wear masks and stand at least six feet apart; no personal beverages/snacks
  • Use technology to allow those not in the sanctuary to be part of the same worship time

Nursery Care/Christian Education (Wendy Donnell, Kessely Hong)

  • Follow state of Massachusetts guidelines (currently no in-person childcare)
  • Stay informed about plans for Newton Public Schools
  • Keep in mind that NHCC children attend many different schools 
  • Continue identifying ways to keep children and families engaged
  • Maintain communication with families
  • Provide weekly children’s message during Zoom worship services
  • Consider conducting an all-church poll to gather more input

Possibilities may include the following: 

  • Hold church school classes on Zoom
  • If worshipping in sanctuary, consider family-friendly services for all ages (to be decided with senior pastor)
  • When restarting programs, bring in children gradually, starting with older children
  • Resume and complete confirmation process
  • Explore ideas for tween/teen Zoom gatherings

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