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Exercise caution with holiday worship

Over the next few months, many different houses of worship will be preparing to celebrate holidays—just like they do every year. But, of course, 2020 is not like every other year. Depending on the state in which you live, it could be very risky to gather a large group of people in one location to celebrate. At Church Mutual, we are in communication with thousands of houses of worship across the country—many of whom are altering their plans to celebrate important holidays. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Limit the number of people in your facility at one time. Historically, holiday services draw more people than any other time of the year. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions against having a large group of people in one space—even if they wear masks. You may want to consider expanding the number of services offered and implementing a reservation system so you can ensure there won’t be a large crowd at any single service.

Explore live streaming options. Regardless of whether you hold in-person services or not, there likely will be people who want to participate in your services from their homes. If you haven’t experimented with live streaming yet, now may be a good time to start. YouTube and Facebook are among the most popular live streaming platforms. Church Mutual also offers an easy-to-use platform for our policyholders that doesn’t require you to share your information on an open site.  Contact Risk Control Central for more details.

Encourage in-person service attendees to wear masks. According to the CDC, masks protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Everyone over the age of 2 should be wearing masks—especially while indoors and when social distancing is not possible. Congregants and staff should wear masks made of two or more layers that cover their nose and mouth.

Package your food. If you are offering food at any holiday service or event, consider having individual, pre-packaged boxes or bags instead of a potluck, buffet, or family-style meal. Avoid sharing of foods and utensils. If your house of worship hosts an event that includes food service, refer to the CDC’s COVID-19 considerations for restaurants and bars.

Intensify cleaning and disinfection. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily and shared objects in between uses. Develop a schedule of increased, routine cleaning and disinfection. Avoid use of items that are not easily cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected. 

Limit your congregants’ sharing of items. Whether you use prayer rugs, prayer books, communion components or other worship items, you should consider temporarily amending your practices so those who are worshipping have little physical contact with each other. You may need to make photocopies of printed material or ask congregants to bring their own supplies.

Prepare for contact tracing. If a member of your congregation tests positive for the coronavirus, he or she will need to identify close contacts. Ask congregants to sign in when they enter the building so you have a record of attendance.

As you make preparations for holiday worship services, remember to contact your Church Mutual representative to check whether you have the right level of insurance. Learn more at