Protocols for a Safe Return to In-person Worship

Sep 10, 2020 by


During Phase Three of Covid-19 Precautions

The Deacons and Executive of MacNeill have taken the decision to reopen the building for Worship service as of Sunday October 4th, 2020. It is recognized that much may change by then and we will always adhere to the current directives provided by the Public Health, the provincial and federal governments and the municipality of Hamilton.

The Deacons Board in consultation with the Management and Christian Education Boards of MacNeill Church, using the direction as outlined above, have developed our return to church procedures. We have developed stringent protocols to provide the best safety measures for everyone choosing to return to worship at the MacNeill Building. Full compliance by everyone will be expected.

We will continue to review our protocols and best practices at regular intervals as further information becomes available.

Prior to Coming to Church

  • Please conduct a self- assessment before leaving home.


  • Do you have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or are you not feeling well?
  • Have you been in contact with someone who is sick or has confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days?  Or have you been in an area where there has been an outbreak?
  • Have you returned from travel outside of Canada in the past 14 days? Or, have you been in an area where there has been an outbreak?
  • If you have answered YES to any of these questions, go home and self-isolate right away. Call Telehealth or your health care provider, to find out if you need a test.


Please bring your own mask. There will be hand sanitizer and a limited box of masks for those who have forgotten to bring one.  A greeter will meet you outside the church to monitor traffic flow to maintain and to social distancing. An usher inside the building will be checking off your attendance, for Public Health tracking as needed. The information will be stored under lock in the church office until no longer needed and then it will be shredded. An usher will guide you toward your seat.

Entering the Church Building for Worship

  • All worshipers must enter by the main entrance door
  • The central main door will be propped open as the weather allows to facilitate physical distancing and reduce contact with door handles.
  • Don mask before entering building
  • If you have forgotten your mask, a disposable mask with be available inside the front door.
  • Please use hand sanitizer located in the narthex.
  • An Order of Service will be available for pick-up upon arrival in the narthex
  • Ushers will greet you warmly while maintaining physical distance. (No hand shake, no hugs or elbow bumps).
  • Please sign in on clip board with name, address and phone number. One member of family may register.
  • Once you have signed in, please take your seat promptly, so we may greet the next persons to arrive.


The Sanctuary

In accordance with guidelines attendance is limited to 30% of our sanctuary capacity. No more than 66 people can be in the sanctuary to attend the service.

  • Seating will be roped off to support physical distancing requirements and reduce crowding.
  • Members of the same household or designated “bubble” may sit together for worship
  • There should be distance of 2 meters (6’) between individuals/designated groups.


The Worship Service

  • Public Health states no singing.
  • Humming is left to individual choice
  • No wind or brass instruments can be used in the worship service.
  • A somewhat shorter service is being planned with two hymns rather than four and an absence of sung responses.
  • There will be a children’s time as usual but children must stay in the pew with their family ‘bubble’. Children will be supported in managing the protocols by a family member. Children will not come forward to reduce movement in the sanctuary. Clip boards and crayons will be provided for each child. Clip board will be left in the pew for cleaning after the service.
  • Appropriately distanced vocal ensembles will be used, as determined by the Music Director.
  • While there will continue to be a focus on the importance of giving our offerings during the service, there will be no passing of offering plates. All are invited to leave their offerings in the offerings plates which will be situated at the front and back of the sanctuary. Contributions can be made on-line by way of the website ‘donate button’ or sent to Gary Purdy by mail. During the offering interlude there will be music for meditation.
  • Sermons will be preached from the pulpit as usual.
  • Initially there may be fewer personnel involved in leading the service for simplicity’s sake
  • Microphones will be generally assigned to one user only. In the case of two users, the microphones will be disinfected between use.
  • Hymn books and Bibles will remain for your use in the pews. Please do not share them outside of your social bubble.
  • Communion: It is a challenge to devise an approach to the communion service that respects the health guideline. The Deacons hope to figure this out by November. nb. We recognize that October 4th is World-Wide Communion Sunday. As this is our first day of return to the building, we will confine ourselves to “reminders” and “remembering” the communion ritual.


Bible Quest: Will not be offered initially. This will be reassessed as life unfolds.

Refreshments and Fellowship Times

Social activities are governed by directives of Public Health authorities. At this time there will be no coffee hour after service or any shared pot-luck meals.

Washrooms: Two (unisex) washrooms may be accessed.  One on the gym level right of the narthex and the single accessible washroom on the parlour level.  If returning to the sanctuary after going to the washroom, please reenter by the way you left and, being careful to physically distance upon your return

Leaving the Church

Please continue to maintain physical distancing as you leave the building.

  • You may choose to exit via the front entrance or via the purple door.
  • At the conclusion of the service, the worship leaders will situate themselves in the narthex, following which the ushers will cue you row by row to exit.
  • Please use hand sanitizer prior to leaving.
  • Avoid bunching in hallways and at the exit.
  • Keep mask on and maintain physical distance (2 meters) while enjoying each other’s company outside of the building on the lawn.


  • The above guidelines have been created to the best of our ability in response to directives from Ministry guidelines. We recognize that, as the pandemic proceeds, further changes in guidelines may be forthcoming. The Protocol Planning Committee is happy to receive your feedback and suggestions for changes, as long as they are in compliance with the Ministry guidelines.

Protocol Planning Committee

Lynn Bond: Board of Christian Education

Gine Cale: Board of Management

Mary Fleming: Board of Deacons

Heather Hobbs: Board of Deacons

Sonia Rogers: Board of Deacons

September 9, 2020


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