UPMC, United Churches design guide for return to worship

Medical professionals from UPMC in the Susquehanna region have partnered with a team of spiritual leaders from the United Churches of Lycoming County to develop faith-based guidelines to assist spiritual leaders with how best to reopen places of worship while keeping congregations safe, according to a recent press release.

The Getting Back to Worship Safely Guide contains recommendations for establishing a minimal set of standards in several categories for resuming faith traditions, including social distancing, facility and material sanitation, personal protective equipment, and illness protocols.

“During this COVID-19 pandemic, our communities have done an extraordinary job keeping our citizens safe and well,” Steve Johnson, president, UPMC in the Susquehanna region, said in the release. “At UPMC in the Susquehanna region, our faith-based mission of extending God’s healing love by providing outstanding patient care includes our commitment to provide care to the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, we support rebuilding a healthy economy, reestablishing a safe and responsive health care system, and reopening places of worship.”

The guidebook recognizes the guidelines may be subject to change as the medical and scientific communities learns more about COVID-19, according to the press release.

It also reinforces the importance of consulting and following the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have all been busy these past few months adapting to changes in the ways we care for our congregations and our community,” Gwen Bernstine, executive director, United Churches of Lycoming County, said in the release. “Congregations and spiritual leaders have faithfully worked amid the uncertainty, grief, unanswered questions, and losses that surround us all, to stay strong and to keep the faith.

“With trust in God, they’ve embraced new ways to connect to members of the congregation, friends, and family,” she added. “Now, we face more change as we begin the processes of safely coming back together.”

Read the full guide at upmcsusquehanna.org/backtobusiness.


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