June 11, 2020
Hello Calvary Family -
While we are still under “Safer at Home” safety measures and folks begin to explore what social distanced gatherings look like it can be a bit unsettling. What do we feel comfortable with? How do we know what to do? It would be nice to see people but how do we navigate awkward boundary conversations if someone encroaches on mine? These, and I imagine many others, are questions you might be tossing around as you wish to see those you love from Calvary.
Since Calvary is not requiring small groups to gather or are even approving gatherings as official Calvary activities, we didn’t want to leave you without any word from staff on what might be helpful should you choose to gather. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for your group to think through before you gather.
We also acknowledge that even if groups choose to gather in a social distanced capacity some in those groups will self-select to not partake for safety reasons and we hope that groups will continue, or start, using zoom meetings to help as many connect as possible.
Since this is new for all of us there will be a learning curve to all of this. Before your group gathers, if that’s what you choose to do, I would be happy to schedule a time to speak with you and help you think through things or answer questions you might have.
Things to consider for yourself before you go to a gathering
- Before you enter the gathering, remind yourself that social distancing will be hard and it will feel awkward – especially around good friends and fellow Calvary members. It will feel different than social distancing at the grocery store. You might experience social distance “creep” more often. And it will feel awkward to continue to step back if someone keeps stepping forward. It’s okay to acknowledge that awkwardness out loud. Practice what you will say or do at an event before you arrive so that you are not caught off guard.
- If you are convening the gathering or hosting the gathering, plan in advance how you will handle a situation if someone arrives without a mask or does not keep social distance. Do you have extra masks on hand? Do you have six feet markers you can put in the grass where people can set their lawn chairs, etc.? Do you have extra disposable utensils, water bottles, hand sanitizer, etc? Remember that in this situation, being a gracious host to all includes reinforcing the importance of people maintaining distancing and disinfecting guidelines. Consider posting a friendly reminder sign about social distancing and masks on your back gate to your backyard or wherever people enter/exit, etc.
- Health professionals recommend that when gathering, assume that everyone is carrying COVID-19, because we never know who is. So if protocols are broken accidentally, take every precaution to wash your hands, step back, etc. And if you are at a gathering and people are not abiding by guidelines that make you feel safe, give yourself permission to remove yourself from the gathering without feeling bad about it. All of us will have different comfort levels so please honor others’ boundaries and don’t feel like you need to apologize for honoring your own.
- If your boundaries include or require that you need more space than 6 feet, consider sending an email in advance to folks letting them know that you will be keeping 8-10 feet of distance. Or perhaps you don’t feel comfortable staying at the gathering, consider sending an email in advance saying that you cannot stay for the gathering but you are going to stop by or drive by for 5-10 minutes and hope that you are able to wave at everyone and say hello but cannot stay for extended conversation, etc.
Things to consider as your group decides to gather
As you consider whether to gather while Calvary’s building is closed through August please think through the following recommendations:
- Gather outdoors
- Keep the social distance of 6 feet between all individuals or households
- Wear a mask the whole time
- Use hand sanitizer before and after the gathering
- While outdoors, socially distanced, and with other safety measures taken into account there is no limit on the amount of people to gather
Things that may be helpful as you gather:
- Umbrella and/or sunscreen for being outdoors
- Water or snacks for yourself, not sharing
- If you are to share food, ensure that utensils are not shared, and the utensils or cups used to gather shared items do not come in contact with someone’s mouth
- Bring a folding or camping chair for yourself
- Think through restroom logistics before choosing a location to meet
- If you gather in the church parking lot, please know that the building is closed, and we ask that no one go in to use the restroom since we will not be having a team ready to clean the restrooms after use
- In order to gather in the church parking lot, you need to contact Lori and reserve it. There are other groups utilizing the parking lot, so Lori needs to make sure it’s available for your group.
- Minimize the amount of time you are gathering
- Groups are being encouraged to keep gatherings under 2 hours
Possible phrases to graciously remind folks to keep social distancing since the unconscious creep is natural and happens to all of us.
- You can stay there while I back up some, I want to honor your social distance
- Hey there, can we shift back to a social distance, I think we have creeped within 6 feet
- Have your group choose, beforehand, a Social Distancing cue word
- Your Group’s Name or common saying/phrase (i.e. dilly dilly for the Men’s group)
You might be wondering if it’s feasible to do these things since they are so different than how we would usually gather. This past Wednesday 9 of our students and 3 leaders (including myself) gathered in a backyard, wore our masks, sanitized our hands, kept social distanced from non-family members, enjoyed individually wrapped snacks, and played Quiplash from our social distanced spots. It was quite different than how we usually gather but we realized it was possible to honor each other’s social distance and wear a mask while enjoying a new way of connecting. It’s been a hard season for our students and the thought of not connecting over the summer - especially since our summer trips have been canceled - felt wrong for us so we made the choice to safely gather. While there is still a risk to gather at a social distanced capacity it was a risk our students and leaders felt comfortable with since we had as many safety measures in place as we could.
Since Calvary is not organizing these gatherings officially we hope if you choose to self-organize you do so in a manner that keeps all safe and honors a variety of safety boundaries. If you choose to ensure safety for all and not gather may that be honored by all in the group!
These are strange times and we will do what we can to support you as you gathering - digitally or at a social distance.
Take good care of you and yours,