Decision-making regarding the impact of COVID-19 on congregational life and considerations regarding reconvening in-person worship requires prayer and discernment. Clearly the decision about resuming in-person worship is a decision of the Session.  Presbytery also has a responsibility to provide considerations for reconvening as the Session discerns the decision. PMRV and COM strongly encourage the Session to discuss and adopt a plan for reopening in-person worship. It is also wise to discuss a plan or procedure in the event that after reopening for in-person worship a congregation member or staff receives notification of exposure to or a diagnosis of COVID-19.

The following considerations are encouraged during discernment to create a safe space for worship in this changing environment. The information changes rapidly and the considerations are intended to provide a opportunity for a full discussion by the Session:

  • Review current CDC and state health department advisories regarding large gatherings
  • Review COVID-19 infection rate in the county or neighboring counties with proximity to the church. Is there a declining and low number of cases? Are cases continuing to escalate?
  • What are the demographics of the congregation and how might their worship needs be served? Will electronic worship services continue for those uncomfortable with in-person worship?
  • If there is a change in the rate of contagion or exposure, what might require a “pause” for in-person worship?
  • Will there be a change in traffic patterns for entering and exiting the sanctuary?
  • Will there be restriction on location of seating options to provide for physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet separating people who are not residing in the same home?
  • What might be the plan for appropriate cleaning of the church? Please review CDC guidelines. Might signage be used regarding access to portions of the church? 
  • Is there an expectation that congregation members in attendance will wear masks? If so, will they be provided?
  • What will be the status of singing, placement of hymnals, bulletins, passing the peace, children’s sermons, and collecting offering?
  • How might serving the Lord’s Supper be different?
  • What other items might need to be considered to assure congregation members and staff feel safe in returning to in-person worship?

PMRV Leadership Team is aware the past months have been difficult as we all try to navigate the best response to COVID-19.  Commission on Ministry requests a copy of each church’s plan for reconvening only to provide feedback and have examples for other congregations. Please send those plans to the Stated Clerk at

Session is charged with the determination of when and how in-person worship reconvenes and potential need to pause in-person worship. PMRV is a resource for the discernment.

CLICK HERE to determine COVID-19 risk levels in your area

CLICK HERE for the PC(USA) Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resource Center

CLICK HERE for COVID-19 resources from The Presbyterian Outlook

CLICK HERE to read The Risky Business of Singing (from the PCUSA website)

CLICK HERE to view a video conversation Lisa Allgood, immunocytochemist, had about COVID-19

Resuming Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic