Planning for What's Next

Congregation Plans-Shared

The following plans are shared by Southern Ohio Synod congregations and are intended to act as examples of what congregations of various sizes are doing in regarding to re-opening church buildings and coming back together for worship and other activities. These plans are not endorsed in any way by the Southern Ohio Synod. Plans are provided for your leadership team to determine the best plan for your context, in conjunction with the current guidance from the Federal Government's Coronavirus Task Force, CDC, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Governor. Please also see the 'considerations' documents from the ELCA and Southern Ohio Synod Bishop's Office for how these guidelines might play out in a church setting.


St John's Zanesville Plan 5.12.20    
St Paul Ashville Worship Plan As Of 5.18.20    
Bethlehem Middletown And St. Peter Trenton Worship Plan As Of 5.18.20    
St. Paul Dog Leg Road Letter To Congregation About Physical Gathering Strategy 5.19.20    
Abiding Christ Fairborn In Person Worship June 7 Pastoral Letter 5.20.20    
Mt Zion Pleasant City Plan for In-Person Worship in June 5.24.20    
St Paul Bridgeport Plan fo In-Person Worship 5.27.20    

Lord of Life West Chester COVID-19 Letter about Whats Next 5.28.20


COVID-19 FAQs - 

Epiphany Lutheran Church Centerville Pastor Letter & In Person Worship Plan 5.28.20    
Resuming Worshipping Together Letter & Procedures For Trinity Pitsburg Ohio 6.2.20    

Philadelphia Lutheran Church Process Explained


Worshiping Safely 2020 Philadelpha LC


Trinity Lutheran Church Mt Healthy Letter Regarding In-Person Worship Planning May 2020


Trinity Lutheran Church Mt Healthy Survey Regarding In-Person Worship 5-2020

COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines for St John Miamisburg 5-2020    
 Grace Lutheran Church Colfax Back to Worship 6.5.20    

 St Paul Ashville Worship Info Graphic 6.19.20

St John Philo Guidelines 6.19.20      
 Epiphany Pickerington Best Practices & Procedures 6.12.20    






SOS/ELCA Best Practices

Youth & Family In-Person Gatherings during COVID-19

COVID-19 To Form or Not to Form? That is the question...

As we traverse the ever-changing world of in-person ministry to young people during a pandemic, I noticed school systems are requiring parents to sign disclosure forms related to COVID-19 and in-person school gatherings, specifically for extra-curricular activities.

I want to raise the question for you as to whether or not you should create such a form. Of course, the final authority on the topic is your insurance company.

If your insurance company suggests you do create such a form, I compiled a couple of documents that you can use as a starting point.

Read the rest of Gary's letter HERE.


COVID-19 Forms for Youth & Family Ministry

Youth & Family Activities COVID-19 Agreement Form

COVID-19 Disclosure Form



Recent research regarding the spread of COVID-19

How Micro Droplets Spread

This video explains what micro droplets are, how they are spread and how to limit how long they stay in the immediate environment. Support for increased ventilation in enclosed spaces and why outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings.


Recording of Bishop's call with rostered ministers and worship directors regarding singing in church

This call focused on the safety of singing during worship services during the current pandemic. Our guest presenters were Dr. Curt Passafume and Mr. Josh Brodbeck.

Publications to consider as congregations make a plan to begin in-person worship

Considerations for Returning to In-person Worship-ELCA

Being Church Together During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Updated 5.12.20

Consideration for Returning to In-person Worship-ELCA (Spanish Language Version)

Being Church Together During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Updated 5.20.20

Guidelines For Re Engaging In Public Religious Gatherings

From Citizens for Community Values (Ohio specific)

24 Questions Your Church Should Answer Before People Return 

Article by Ken Braddy, Jr. (Not Ohio specific)

Guidance for the New Normal from the Clergy Coaching Network

Clergy Coaching blog (Not Ohio specific)

Avoid this Big Mistake: Stepping Back into the Past when You Step Back into Your Building

 (Not Ohio specific)

From Church Mutual Insurance

“No notice to CM (Church Mutual) is necessary and there is no impact on coverage. Insureds do not have a duty to advise their carrier of their intentions.  All Church Mutual can do as a carrier is ask that their insureds follow all CDC,  state and municipal guidelines as possible and that they focus on doing it safely”.

Check with your insurance provider to see what they advise regarding returning to in-person worship and liability coverage.

Recommendations for a Safe Return to Worship from Church Mutual 5.20.20

The article is a high-level overview of safeguards for consideration by houses of worship as they think about re-opening for public services.


COVID-19 Coverage From Church Mutual 5.20.20

How will my insurance coverage respond to a coronavirus claim?



Industry Best Practices

MIT COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline

This app uses a mathematical model, developed by MIT professors Martin Z. Bazant and John Bush, to improve upon current distancing guidelines by providing a more accurate description of indoor COVID-19 transmission risk.
Adjust parameters in the other tabs and see how different spaces handle indoor COVID-19 transmission.

COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

This site provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes. The model is simple, intentionally so, and provided some context for the rationale to halt large gatherings in early-mid March and newly relevant context for considering when and how to re-open. Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide further support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures. Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases. 

Wisconsin Council of Churches

Church Music in the Age of COVID-19

Ohio Department of Health

Ohio Public Health Advisory System

Ohio COVID-19 Risk Level Guidelines for the Public

Public Health Orders-State of Ohio

Responsible Start Ohio Welcome Page

--Sector Specific Operating Requirements

--COVID-19 Checklist for Faith Based Organizations

--Cloth Face Coverings (Masks) COVID-19 Checklist

--Cleaning and Disinfecting Alternatives - COVID-19 Checklist

National Association of Teachers of Singing

NATS presents A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing

YouTube Video Discussion, May 5 2020

NATS Panel of Experts Lays Out Sobering Future for Singers: "No Vaccine, No Safe Public Singing"

Article by Zach Finkelstein




Stewardship Resources

Stewardship Resources from Pr. Mike Ward, our THRIVE! Campaign consultant:

You may access the recording at: April 23rd Online Workshop: Keeping Stewardship Strong in Uncertain Times.

The password is: 3M*T$8@!

Please note: the first 6 minutes includes “gathering time,” so you may wish to “fast forward” to timestamp 6:05 where the workshop begins.


Preferred ELCA Online Giving Providers