ASC Reopening Task Force – Notes from Meeting May 6, 2021

Attendees: George Carvill, Peter Gibbons, Jamie Gibson, Leslie Kinney, Steve Squires, Rev. Telos Whitfield


George – write up language for increase of outdoor gatherings to 100.

Peter & George – prepare some possible polling questions, such as “Do you expect to be fully vaccinated by…” for use at Annual Meeting

Steve – prepare to speak at Annual Meeting on behalf of the task force

All – we did not set a time for a next meeting. Probably after Annual Meeting

We agreed on the following recommendations to the Board of Trustees

  1. The number of people permitted at outside gatherings can be raised to 100, provided that masks are worn and six-foot distancing is observed. This change is in response to the State of Vermont lifting restrictions out outdoor gatherings to numbers beyond what we have space for anyway.
  2. At our previous meeting, we agreed that Rentals could be booked and proceed so long as the renters observe the same COVID safety rules as apply to church members, and of the State of Vermont. We further agreed that food and drink may be served, but only by a licensed caterer operating under the applicable guidelines issued by the State of Vermont.  We, and the renters, must recognize that COVID regulations can change at any time, and if this results in a rental being canceled, the same refund policies apply as for cancelations due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Notes on other discussions follow.

We discussed, without conclusion, whether we could safely hold a Sunday Service outdoors sometime this summer. Issues include

“Fully vaccinated” status has not yet reached the younger age ranges, making later in the summer a more plausible target.

A sound system will be needed, especially with Vermont still calling for 6-foot distancing (and masks) in such a gathering.  Most of our equipment is easily portable, leaving speakers as the issue. George has a portable speaker which may be adequate, and thinks he may be able to connect the hearing assistance equipment as well.

Food & drink do not seem feasible at this time (whether indoors or out).

How much of the service, if any, could be made available on the Internet?

It being summer, there are only a few dates where our minister will be leading the service (second Sunday in July, fourth in August).

Singing will likely still be prohibited.

We discussed the possibility of indoor services, where many of the same issues apply.

We talked about possible vaccinated-only conditions, but it seems unworkable, and inevitable that we have to operate as if unvaccinated people are present. Certainly children, and possibly adults as well. At present, this means masks and social distancing.

Distancing restricts the maximum number of people more than might be expected. For example, our seemingly spacious Main Hall measures 48×40 feet.  That could work out to only 7 seats per row lengthwise, by 6 rows, totaling 42 seats.  Maybe a few more in the balcony. There can be some fudging with members of a household sitting together, but there also must be a reasonable layout for a stage, podium, etc.

We may want to ask some survey questions of the congregation, and may well need a congregational forum to discuss some issues (especially Hybrid church). Some candidate questions include

Do you expect to be vaccinated by (date)?  This would give us some idea, and perhaps also of the numbers who may not get vaccinated at all.

If in-person services were to resume, how likely are you to attend in person? Or are you more comfortable on Zoom?  Some sense of the demand for Hybrid streaming would be helpful.

Would you continue to come to in-person ASC services, if we are masked and distanced for the foreseeable future?

Jamie notes that it is quite possible that the State of Vermont will lift all restrictions at some point, presumably leaving entities like churches to decide on their own how cautious they want to be.  This would change the conversation considerably.