In-Person Indoor Worship
We resumed in-person worship indoors on August 15. For those who are not planning to return to in-person worship now, our online worship video will be available on our YouTube channel. See the ‘Accessibility Online’ information below for details.
- Festival Worship with communion begins at 9:45 a.m. in the sanctuary
- La Mesa (our bilingual worship service) with communion begins at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
- Outdoor fellowship time follows the services on the portico and the lawn
- Outdoor childcare is available on the playground
Pastor Cameron and Moderator Mary McMillan recently shared the exciting news about reopening for indoor worship.
Your safety is our main priority. We require masking for everyone who is inside our building and outside in large groups. We highly recommend and respectfully request that you complete the COVID-19 vaccination, if eligible, before returning to in-person services. Registration will not be required.
See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We can’t wait to see you. Thanks be to God!
As we return to in-person activities, it is important for us to maintain our digital presence because some families will be unable to join us indoors. However, online viewers will notice some changes in content and format. Beginning August 15, our services are offered on our YouTube channel, where anyone will be able to find the videos on demand. The online services include scripture readings, a sermon, and music.
Sermon text will continue to be available here on our website. The prayer list will continue to be included in the worship email sent on Sunday morning.
Our eventual goal is to livestream our worship services so that online viewers can participate in our worship services in real time. This will require updates to our recording equipment, sound system, and internet service. At the Church Council meeting on July 27, Council commissioned a task force to evaluate our readiness to livestream our services. A report on the investments needed to show our services live on Sunday mornings is expected by the end of August.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When will we start worshiping indoors again?
Sunday, August 15. After 73 Sundays of worship online and outdoors, United Church of Chapel Hill will be open for indoor worship on Sunday, August 15. Thanks be to God!
What time and where will the worship services be held?
La Mesa, our bilingual contemporary service, will begin in the Fellowship Hall at 9:30 a.m.
Festival Worship, our traditional service, will begin in the Sanctuary at 9:45 a.m.
Our prerecorded online worship services will be available on demand on Sunday mornings on our Youtube channel and on our website.
What safety precautions will we take during worship?
Like many things right now, worship will look and feel a little different while we continue to take precautions to lessen the risk of spreading the coronavirus. For now, we plan to:
- Mask up while indoors. Everyone, age 2+, must wear a mask while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. If you forget your mask, don’t worry, we’ll have plenty.
- Hold off on congregational singing of hymns. Service music will be provided by instrumentalists and small ensembles of fully vaccinated singers.
- Practice good hand hygiene. The bathrooms will be stocked and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building and on the playground and lawn.
- Consume food and drink outside (including Communion – see more below!)
- Maintain physical distancing. In the Sanctuary, worshipers will skip rows of pews, and separate households should spread out around the space. In the Fellowship Hall, worshipers will pick up folding chairs to set up with other members of their household at a distance from others (assistance with carrying a chair will be available).
We recommend the COVID vaccine for everyone who is eligible in our community and encourage church members to seek it out before returning to in-person services. Gathering with people not in your household can increase the possibility of COVID transmission. We are taking mitigation precautions, but if you are not fully vaccinated you are at a higher risk to contract COVID and to experience serious symptoms and complications. We trust that your family will weigh your risk before deciding when and how to participate in worship and other parts of the life of the church.
Do I need to register to attend indoor worship?
No. We are not currently requiring registration for the services. Please let us know that you are attending worship by signing the friendship pad passed to you during the service. If your family anticipates needing childcare during the first few indoor services, please let Director for Children’s Ministry Anitra Grove know in advance so that we can appropriately staff the nursery (see more about childcare below).
Will we take Communion?
Yes. Communion will be served in both services every week. For now, the elements will be blessed during the service, and you will receive your bread and cup outdoors as you exit the worship services. Please monitor physical distancing in the service line.
Will I have an assigned seat?
No, you will not have an assigned seat in the Sanctuary or Fellowship Hall. However, please be mindful of our physical distancing guidelines (see above). If you need assistance finding a seat, please see an usher.
Can we shake hands or hug?
We encourage a contact-free worship service experience and encourage you to share a “peace” hand symbol or other distanced gesture during the Passing of the Peace. Physical distancing is encouraged during worship and gathering outdoors, so greeting one another with a handshake or hug is discouraged. If you do shake hands with others, please be sure to wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
Will there be childcare?
Yes. Outdoor “nursery” care will be offered for children up to 7 years of age. If your family anticipates needing childcare during the first few indoor services, please let Director for Children’s Ministry Anitra Grove know in advance so that we can appropriately staff the nursery.
Childcare will be available on the playground beginning at 8:30am, and children should be picked up by 11:30am. All children and childcare workers will be masked. If it is raining, children will play on the covered patio. If the weather becomes more treacherous or being on the patio is unreasonable, they will retreat indoors with open windows, air purifiers, and fans (and everyone remaining masked).
Can I still worship online?
Yes. Abbreviated versions of both of our prerecorded online worship services will be available on demand on our YouTube Channel and on our website. The Facebook Premiere worship streaming experiences will be discontinued. Our goal is to eventually livestream our worship services so that online viewers can participate in our worship services in real time.
What else will happen on Sunday mornings? Sunday School? Coffee hour? Potlucks?
Fellowship will take place following worship outside on the church lawn. Coffee and juice will be served. Masks will be optional outdoors for those that are fully vaccinated (but you are encouraged to wear one, unless you are enjoying your drink!). Programs for children and youth (other than childcare for children up to 7 years of age) will not begin until September 19, at the earliest.
No congregational meals, for now, but we hope we’ll be able to share meals together again soon.
When will Faith Formation classes and other groups and programs start up again?
As part of our “dimmer switch,” incremental approach to regathering, right now we are focused on creating safe conditions for worship. We do not intend to resume indoor Faith Formation classes and other programming before September 19. Many of our groups met online throughout the pandemic, and some have begun to meet in person and in a “hybrid” (online and in-person) format. Check out our online calendar and the weekly enews for more details.
More information about children, youth, and adult education will be available soon. Please contact Director of Music Jenny Anderson to learn more about our music ministries.
Do I have to be vaccinated to attend worship?
We will not require that anyone have received the vaccine to join us for worship. However, if you have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to get your shot(s)! Everyone will be masked indoors; if you are not yet fully vaccinated, we ask that you also remain masked during outside gatherings.
Church leaders may ask if you are vaccinated if you are considering helping in an area of ministry, such as music or children/youth programs, where the risk of spreading the virus to others is higher.
Gathering with people not in your household can increase the possibility of COVID transmission. We are taking mitigation precautions, but if you are not fully vaccinated you are at a higher risk to contract COVID and to experience serious symptoms and complications. We trust that your family will weigh your risk before deciding when and how to participate in worship and other parts of the life of the church.
Do I have to show proof of my vaccination status?
Church leaders may ask if you are vaccinated if you are considering helping in an area of ministry, such as music or children/youth programs, where the risk of spreading the virus to others is higher. However, you do not need to discuss your vaccination status with other members of the congregation.
COVID cases have started rising again. Why are we returning to indoor worship now?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our approach has been guided by the collective wisdom of several faith communities in Chapel Hill. Pastor Cameron meets with clergy representing area congregations on most Monday mornings. There we receive a public health briefing from Dr. Wesley Wallace, a UNC Health physician and member of University Methodist Church, and discuss best practices for congregational life. Most of our churches are sponsoring worship indoors now, and all of us are watchful of changing public health conditions. We all feel that a return to in-person indoor services is important for our community life. We also know that families and communities have differing needs. We’re especially mindful of the Delta variant, and because public health information is subject to change we are moving forward with humility and openness to revise and update our plans as conditions require.
I want to be active in the church but I’m concerned about being around so many others right now. What should I do?
We trust that families in our church will make the best decision for themselves about when and how to participate in worship and other parts of the life of the church. If you cannot join us for in-person worship or activities right now, we hope you will worship with us online (see more above). Some classes and small groups are meeting online or in a hybrid format (some people in-person and some joining online), or will hold smaller or outdoor gatherings where you might feel more comfortable.
Please reach out to any of our pastors if you or your family is in need of prayer or conversation during this time.
Will masks be available if I forget mine?
Yes. Masks will be available by each of the entrances on Sunday mornings and by the office entrance during the week. Right now, everyone age 2+ is required to wear a mask in the church building, regardless of vaccination status. If someone does not have a mask, feel free to help them find one.
Can visitors attend worship?
Yes. We love having visitors in worship. Please carefully read all of these safety guidelines and other information about our services before attending worship. We look forward to welcoming you to United Church of Chapel Hill!
What happens if I test positive for COVID after attending an in-person service?
We’ve adopted these community health guidelines because we presume that COVID is present in our community and we should expect that COVID transmission is a risk in any community activity. Our assumption is that anyone could be COVID positive at any time. If you test positive and learn that you may have been contagious while attending an in-person service, please notify the church office so that we can inform worshipers seated near you. Please be sure to sign the friendship pad passed to you during the service.
Can groups meet in the building?
Yes. The building has been open for small group meetings since June 1. Send requests for recurring or one-time uses of indoor or outdoor space to Church Administrator Kati Ruark (including groups that regularly met in the building pre-pandemic). Individuals and groups that choose to meet in-person do so at their own risk. UCCH is not liable for illness or injury that occurs as a result of attending a meeting or event at the church. Group members must monitor their own health and are responsible for accurately reporting their vaccination status to others.
How can I help?
Want to help with worship? You can sign up to be an usher, scripture reader, or to sponsor the altar flowers. Look for other opportunities to sign up to help with Meal Trains, bereavement receptions, food donations to the IFC, and more! If you are interested in spending some time volunteering in the building during the week, please contact Church Administrator Kati Ruark.
We also appreciate your financial gifts. You can make an offering during worship, give online, mail a check to the church, or contact Business Manager Duane Gilbert to find out more about giving to United Church.