Back to Building

Back to the Building Task Force
Statement to the Congregation
June 4, 2020

Out of an abundance of love for our worship community and in accordance with the United Church of Christ guidelines and recommendations, the HCC church building will remain closed for worship, meetings and other gatherings until the end of the summer. We realize that the State of Massachusetts has permitted places of worship to open and gather, but with strict mandates and recommendations. For now, we are considering ourselves in the Base Phase of re-opening under the UCC guidelines. (See links to both the UCC guidelines and the Massachusetts guidelines below). Before we enter Phase 1 of the UCC guidelines which allows for a return to in-person worship, there are many things we need to do to prepare our building. The newly formed “Back to the Building” Task Force will do everything we can over the summer to properly and thoughtfully prepare for our Phase 1 opening. While it is our plan to stay consistent with UCC guidelines, we will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and in Hingham, and if there are positive trends earlier than expected we will reevaluate the current time-frame for moving to Phase 1.

During this Base Phase of our reopening, our pastors, musicians, church leaders and volunteers will continue to provide virtual worship services and prayer times. The task force will evaluate the possibility of safely recording some of our virtual worship services from inside the sanctuary, and the possibility of a worship service outdoors. In addition, we will of course continue to care for our buildings and our grounds. And our church governance will continue to meet virtually. We are also planning to set up a virtual mailbox for you to give us your thoughts and feedback.

There are many considerations for returning to in-person worship, (Phase 1) and future phases. These considerations include but aren’t limited to:

1. Preparing the physical space for appropriate social distancing, considering entering/exiting and movement through the church in addition to seating in the sanctuary.
2. Planning for non-contact worship that will allow for creative ways to be in community without physical contact with one another.
3. Procuring appropriate supplies to ensure appropriate protective measures are maintained, including face covering, hand sanitizer, no touch trash receptacles, and state approved cleaning supplies.
4. Estimating the costs of building sanitization and developing plans for proper regular cleaning.
5. Developing a safe and thoughtful plan for our children and youth to return to in-person gatherings and the classrooms.

We know this is disappointing news for many of us, as we miss gathering together all in one place. Hugs, smiles and a warm cup of coffee with our friends will be a part of our worship experience again. But for now, we feel our decision is a responsible and informed one, based on science and social evidence, (and some guidance from the Holy Spirit). The most important driver behind our decisions are, and always will be to keep our beloved church community safe.

We thank you for your patience and continued dedication to Hingham Congregational Church.

The Back to the Building Task Force:

Cory Noordzij, Kathi Blair, Tim Redmond, Ray Childs, Mike Whitner, Paul Jeffrey, Kris Shorey, Tracy Allen, Stod Rowley, Pete Allen, Sara Holland, David Giessow, Lynn Mayo.

UCC guidelines: https://www.sneucc.org/phasingforward

Massachusetts guidelines for churches: https://www.mass.gov/lists/safety-standards-for-places-of-worship