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In-Person Ministry FAQs

We are pleased to announce that our “experiment phase” for our return will begin Sunday, April 18 and last through Sunday, May 23. During this six-week period, we will be returning at 25 percent capacity of our building space, and will offer a new schedule to accommodate ministry offerings as well as allow ample time for cleaning of spaces throughout the day.

There are a number of details regarding logistics and operations during the six-week experiment phase. Please take a look at the FAQ below, which offers specific information about our return strategy, church operations, building logistics, details for children and youth ministries, etc. If your question is not answered here, please email info@firstchurchdallas.org for assistance.

In-Person Ministry FAQs

The questions below cover details regarding in-person ministry through May 23.  Additional communication will be issued in May regarding offerings and schedules for the summer months.

 

Strategy

When are we returning?


We will be entering an “experiment” phase Sunday, April 18, in which we will start to engage in in-person, small group ministry.

Why are we not returning on April 11?


A number of activities were already scheduled for the morning of April 11, including baptisms, music rehearsals and other external activities to which staff were previously committed. It was decided that the afternoon of April 11 was an ideal time for the staff to have preparation meetings to ensure logistics are in place for in-person ministry the following week.

At what capacity are we returning?


Per Dallas County guidelines, we are allowing enough people into the space where full physical distancing can take place, particularly in the sanctuary. Due to the size of our spaces throughout the building, we estimate this to be about 25 percent of building capacity.

How did we determine to return, and at what capacity?


Per our email issued March 1, we announced that “when Dallas County has reported a risk level of ‘orange’ for two consecutive weeks, we will begin an ‘experiment’ phase in which we will start to engage in-person, small group ministry.” This decision was reached after carefully monitoring CDC guidelines, COVID-19 statistics for Dallas County and beyond, vaccination rates, and overall guidance provided by local leadership. We have taken a conservative approach to our return, so this initial phase will allow for 25 percent of our membership to be present in person.

Will we have worship in the sanctuary?


We will have worship in the sanctuary beginning April 18. The service will be approximately 40 minutes.

At what point will we be able to be at full capacity in the sanctuary?


In consultation with our medical team and Return Strategy team, once Dallas County guidance and/or CDC guidelines deem it safe to be in close proximity with others, whether those persons are vaccinated or not, we will move back to full capacity in the sanctuary.

What is the schedule?


The schedule on Sundays will be phased in beginning Sunday, April 18. On Sundays, April 18 and 25, there will be afternoon worship in the sanctuary at 2:30 p.m.

For Sundays in May, there will be a full morning and afternoon schedule, with worship in the sanctuary at 10 a.m. and communal worship in the Upper Room at 2:30 p.m. View the entire schedule for each Sunday here.

Why was the schedule designed this way?


This schedule allows us to continue with traditional offerings and try out some new formats, all while honoring the time necessary to properly clean the spaces before and after use. The morning schedule concentrates activities in the center of the building, and the afternoon offerings place everyone in the education wing. This separation gives us a way to adhere to COVID guidelines in a way that doesn’t overtax our building staff. We also watched patterns of engagement over the past few months, and noted that people were taking advantage of the virtual content throughout the day on Sunday. Therefore, we wanted to try some afternoon offerings that may be attractive to our congregation.

How long will we keep this schedule?


We will keep this schedule until we approach Memorial Day. At the end of May, further announcements will be made about our next steps, which will include a schedule through early to mid-August.

Will virtual worship still be available?


Yes, virtual worship will still be available on Sundays. They will be standalone services, not streaming versions of in-person services. The services will be available on demand beginning at 5 a.m. and will stream at 11 a.m. at firstchurchdallas.org.

What happens if Dallas County returns to a COVID risk level of red?


Since safety is our first priority, if Dallas County returns to a COVID risk level of red, we would immediately return to virtual offerings only, and watch for additional guidance from Dallas County officials as to when we could return to a limited in-person ministry.

What happens when Dallas County downgrades to a COVID risk level of yellow?


When Dallas County moves to a COVID risk level of yellow for two consecutive weeks, we will expand the offerings from the experiment phase while still adhering to guidelines. Further communication would be issued on what those expanded offerings are and how you can take advantage.

What happens if someone who attends on a Sunday later tests
positive for COVID?


If an attendee later tests positive, we will use the registration records from that Sunday to alert other attendees, particularly those to whom they might have been exposed (if that can be determined). We will determine at that time if we need to halt in-person ministry or if it is safe to continue given certain circumstances.

Will the approach change if a majority of the congregation becomes
vaccinated?


Our approach is based on how we can offer the greatest ministry impact within the confines of the safety guidelines we must follow. Vaccination is a personal choice, and we can’t assume everyone will elect to do so, so we will provide an environment that offers the greatest level of safety and comfort for everyone regardless of their  vaccination status.

What does this return mean for summer events and offerings?


While we are able to offer a return to in-person ministry on Sundays, largescale events, summer camps, etc. will still not be held in person for Summer 2021 – COVID guidelines as of today remain too restrictive to offer these events. Specific virtual and small-group opportunities that are being planned for this summer, particularly for children and youth, will be communicated directly to parents.

 

Logistics

Will masks and social distancing be mandatory?


School age children through adults will be required to wear a mask while inside the building and adhere to other COVID-19 safety guidelines including social distancing. Social distancing will be observed throughout the building, including in the sanctuary and all meeting rooms/spaces.

I’ve been vaccinated – do I still have to adhere to COVID protocols?


Yes, everyone must wear a mask and practice social distancing regardless of their vaccination status.

Will we be required to register to attend?


Yes. Registration helps us to do our part in the community to address any possible contact with COVID-19, should that need arise. Registration also enables the church to email registrants with any changes or preparations for coming to FirstChurch.

How far in advance do we have to register?


Registration opens weekly on Monday morning and remains open through 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

Do we have to provide proof of registration upon arrival?


No. We will have greeters at the doors each Sunday of the experiment phase to welcome and to guide you in your experience.

Will valet parking be available?


Valet parking will not be available through May 23. Please park in Bryan Tower or utilize street parking where possible.

Where will we be able to park?


Please park in Bryan Tower or utilize street parking where possible.

Will there be a nursery available? Does that require registration?


The nursery will be provided in the dining room for infants through kindergarten  beginning Sunday, May 2. Registration will be required for us to properly staff the nursery to provide an excellent level of care.

What doors will be available for entry and exit?


San Jacinto and Harwood entrances will be open during this experimental phase. Each door will have a staff member to welcome and guide you in your experience. All doors will be available to exit the building.

Will other rooms in the building be used? Which ones?


A number of our multipurpose, small- and medium-sized rooms will be in use during this phase. Your registration confirmation email, the greeters at the doors, and signage throughout the building will guide you during the course of your experience.

Will food and drink be allowed, or will we be allowed to bring food and drink?


No food and drink will be provided by the church in any space, and we ask that you not provide communal food and drink to groups while using meeting rooms. You are  welcome to bring water or coffee for yourself.

Are all bathrooms open for use?


All restrooms will be available for use.

 

Operations

What is the schedule for Sunday?


The schedule on Sundays will be phased in beginning Sunday, April 18. On Sundays, April 18 and 25, there will be afternoon worship in the sanctuary at 2:30 p.m.

For Sundays in May, there will be a full morning and afternoon schedule, with worship in the sanctuary at 10 a.m. and communal worship in the Upper Room at 2:30 p.m. View the entire schedule for each Sunday here.

What is “Formation?”


“Formation” is an experience on Sunday morning that is a blend of worship and learning, of personal growth and communal experience. These sessions will be centered on spiritual practices, studies in Methodism, Biblical explorations, and contemplation.

Will we have worship in the sanctuary?


We will have worship in the sanctuary beginning April 18. The service will be approximately 40 minutes.

How will seating take place in the sanctuary?


You will be guided by ushers in the sanctuary. Social distancing is indicated on the pews by a series of ropes and markers on the pews themselves assisting you to honor the distance while sharing the experience.

What will worship in the sanctuary look like?


Worship in the sanctuary will be in the Methodist tradition: the Daily Prayer and Praise. Although there will not be a choir in this experimental phase, we will offer music in ways that honor God and honor this season we are living in.

Will there be a choir at any service?


In this phase, there will not be a live choir at any service.

Will we have communion?


We do plan to offer communion on May 2; it will still offer a communal experience but also adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Instructions will be offered in the service.

When is Sunday School in the new schedule?


Sunday School for children, youth and adults occurs during the “Learning” hour at 11 a.m.

Where will Sunday school classes meet?


At this time, we are working with Sunday School presidents to determine that. Your Sunday School president will communicate with you directly about details for your class.

Children, Zone56 and Youth will meet in their designated spaces (Children’s Commons, Zone56 classroom and Youth Room, respectively).

Will we have access to A/V equipment for our Sunday School
classes?


Yes. Each Sunday School class meets in a multipurpose room that is WiFi equipped and has technology to connect with class members virtually.

Will Sunday school classes be permitted to meet on Zoom?


Yes. We expect some of our members who may not yet be ready to return to in-person ministries will want to have access to the class experience via Zoom. Individual Sunday School classes will determine how access might best work for their group.

Can we connect with our classes on Zoom, while simultaneously
meeting in person?


Yes. Connection is one of our primary goals as a congregation during this time, and this use of technology can be a great help to deepen community.

Will Sunday morning music rehearsals still take place at the church?


Yes. In this six-week phase, rehearsals will continue to take place, although rehearsal times may vary.

What is happening on Sunday afternoons?


Sunday afternoons will offer another time for worship and learning. Communal worship will be more relaxed with a come-as-you-are attire and will have a different worship order than the morning service. After a 30-minute worship time, learning opportunities will be available for children, youth and adults. More details will be shared on what these opportunities will be as we move forward.

What is Communal Worship?


Communal worship is an alternate to our traditional worship service. It will offer traditional worship elements in a more relaxed atmosphere.

When and where will children and youth meet on Sunday morning?


Children (1-4 grades) will meet on the second floor of our education wing, now called “Children’s Commons.” Check-in will be above the information desk (San Jacinto entrance) on the second floor.

Zone56 (5-6 grades) will meet in the Zone56 classroom on the third floor.

Youth (7-12 grades) will meet in the Youth Room on the third floor.

Will I still be required to check my child in?


Yes, in alignment with our Child Protection Policy, parents of infants through fourth grade will need to escort their children and check them in for their children’s experience.

Infants – Kindergarten will check in in the dining room where the Nursery will be located.

Children (grades 1-4) will check in on the 2nd floor.

Zone56 and Youth students will check in in their designated rooms.

Do I have to sign my child out of their Sunday experiences?


Parents of Infants – Kindergarten will check out downstairs in the dining room with their teachers.

Parents of grades 1-2 will check out on the 2nd floor with the adult volunteer.

Children in grades 3-4 will be checked out by their adult volunteer and will be free to meet their parents once checked out.

Zone56 will sign themselves out with their teacher on the 3rd floor.

Youth (7-12 grade) will sign themselves out.

What if I have a child in the nursery and also on the 2nd floor - is there a way to sign both of them in at one time?


Yes, there will be a check in station at the front desk in the Atrium for you to sign your children in and get their identification stickers printed.

When and where will children and youth meet on Sunday afternoon?


Through May 2, Variations (youth choir) and Carillon Ringers (youth handbell ensemble) will rehearse at their appointed times.

For the afternoon experience, all participants will gather in the Upper Room (third floor large multipurpose space) for communal worship. Then, children, Zone56, youth and adults will be sent to learning communities for
their afternoon experience.

Want to know more?

We would love to meet you! From our Rotunda Theatre to the magnificent bell tower, we have lots of corners to show you and a great history to share. We look forward to answering your questions about our ministry, theology and outreach, and invite you to join us for a tour.

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