Specific Understanding Given the Unique Context of the New York Annual Conference

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Specific Understanding Given the Unique Context of the New York Annual Conference

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While we work toward potential reopening dates, it is appropriate to begin aggressively thinking and planning for reopening.

As we begin thinking and planning for the next step in our journey, there are also clear realities that emerge given the unique and diverse context of the New York Annual Conference.

Note the following:

  • As Governor Cuomo stated in his most recent press conference, the dates for reopening will vary from state, county and region. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Within the New York Annual Conference, reopening will be dependent upon the New York and Connecticut governments determining that it is safe to open. This means, reopening procedures for counties like Litchfield, Albany, Greene and Columbia will happen before counties like Nassau, Queens, Kings, New York, and the Bronx.
  • Our New York churches are located within six of the established regions: Capital (partial), Mohawk (partial), Southern Tier (partial), Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island (see the attached NYAC District Map).
  • At press time, two regions (Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley) are beginning the first phase of reopening and the Capital region has been given the green light to reopen on May 20th. The additional three regions of New York (Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island) will not meet the threshold for the beginning stage of reopening until June 13 at the earliest.

PLEASE NOTE: The dates for reopening our Churches may not coincide with the dates released by the State of Connecticut and New York.

  • In Connecticut, there are no regions established. As a result, we will be looking at Connecticut by counties (Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, Litchfield, and Middlesex). Of the eight Connecticut counties, the five within the bounds of our Conference have experienced the most hospitalizations and death.
  • When restrictions are lifted in Connecticut, the initial acceptable threshold for churches to re-assemble will be those that worship less than 50 persons. Yet, as you will see below, the criteria for reopening any of our churches as well as adherence to the CDC guidelines will be the same throughout the Annual Conference.
  • Neither New York nor Connecticut state governments have issued specific guidance or directly named faith communities in their plans for reopening.

The challenges we face when creating a potential reopening plan are significant given the complexity of the New York Annual Conference, which is guided by two state governments and the unprecedented density found within significant parts of our Conference.

We must listen carefully and plan accordingly giving it our best efforts to remain safe and smart. Remember, 97% of all deaths in New York and Connecticut have taken place within the bounds of the New York Annual Conference.

Currently, churches in Connecticut that worship less than 50 and in the regions of the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley may begin worship on Sunday, June 21, 2020.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of work to be done before we get the go-ahead to resume some form of in-person worship/ministry. We will continue to update you on the latest developments and decisions being made.

“NY Forward: A Guide to Reopening New York & Building Back Better” identifies critical factors for any reopening plan:

  1. Protection for employees and customers.
  2. Changes to the physical workspace.
  3. The implementation of processes that meet our changing public health obligations.

These factors can easily be translated into the baseline criteria we will need to establish in all of our churches across the New York Annual Conference:

  1. Protection for our leaders and parishioners, giving special attention to the most vulnerable populations that make up most of our constituency base.
  2. Changes that must be made to our sanctuaries and other common gathering areas, with special attention given to office space and the use of our facilities by renters and other groups.
  3. A clear realization that we cannot go back to the way we were before. Our changing public health landscape will require us to make significant changes in order to comply with health regulations placed upon us all by the pandemic.

In this publication you will find guidelines and requirements you will need to begin organizing in anticipation of reopening, no matter when it occurs.