Reopening Plan

Pastor’s Summary 

St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church leadership team is committed to safety first. We will exercise faith, wisdom, and caution regarding in-person gatherings. Clearly, this situation is fluid, so our decision to reopen will be driven by COVID-19 data that is available to us.  Despite the fluidity, we have been working on a phased plan to reopen our campus based on the best available information. This plan prioritizes love for our neighbors by keeping people safe (Mt 22:39), faith in God (2 Timothy 1:7) showing proper, biblical respect for government authority (Rom 13:1), and demonstrating that we trust our Church family to make wise decisions. 

There is no question that we desire to gather in-person, but we are committed to doing so safely and responsibly through a phased approach. A phased transition allows us to gradually find our way back to full fellowship while taking minimal risks.  We feel that this is the prudent thing to do.  There will be inconveniences with this approach, but we are counting on everyone being patient with one another during the process.  We anticipate having to make adjustments and changes on the fly because this is uncharted territory, and we cannot account for certain things until we encounter them. Please be flexible and understanding as we do our very best to usher us back into corporate worship safely. St. Paul is a resilient congregation, and we will find our way back eventually.  We will continue to monitor the data closely as we prepare for the conversion from the online-only era to in-person gatherings once again. 


 Attached are general practices, guidelines, and FAQs for your review. Listed below are a few next steps:

  1. Read the attached documents carefully

  2. Projected limited seating reopening July 19th

  3. Look out for an email in the upcoming week with instructions on how we will return to service 

General Practices
  • Medical professionals: We will work with medical professionals to develop best practices related to the health of those attending in-person worship gatherings.

  • General Guidance: Each person has a responsibility to look out for the welfare of others. If you suspect that you or a member of your family have symptoms, stay home until the period has expired and/or testing has occurred. According to the CDC, - symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19: 

    • Cough 

    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 

    • Fever 

    • Chills 

    • Repeated shaking with chills 

    • Muscle pain 

    • Headache 

    • Sore throat 

    • Loss of taste or smell 


  • We will continue to offer live streaming of worship as in-person phases begin. In this way, the church provides two options: limited worship in the church and live streaming online. 

  • We will offer pre-registration for in-person worship.  This will help us adhere to social distancing measures within service.  The number of attendees will be based on the capacity of the sanctuary and fellowship hall.

  • We encourage those with underlying health conditions to avoid in-person gatherings in Phase One and Two. (for a detailed list, see ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at- higher-risk.html).  

  • Appropriate social distancing: Since the standard is 6 feet for appropriate social distancing, we will utilize that standard in calculating the distance between family units in pews, worship leaders, and all volunteers and staff. 

  • Provide COVID-19 protection: We will have masks and gloves on- hand and will provide hand sanitizing stations throughout the building and at exits and entrances. 

  • Discourage personal contact: We will discontinue meet and greet times in worship and maintain social distancing. 

  • Clean & clean again: Protocols will be implemented to reduce the spread of the virus by constant cleaning and sanitizing of all areas before, during, and after service.  We contracted a vendor to ensure that we always have the proper cleaning and sanitizing 

  • CDC Guidelines: We will follow specific CDC guidance for childcare or educational programming for children and youth. 

  • Classrooms will not be available during the initial phases of reopening.


How will we make sure people are not sitting too close to one another? 

 We will utilize the CDC recommendation of 6’ per person separation guideline. Every other pew has been blocked off for use. Family units, defined as people residing in the same home, can sit together. 

What if more people show up than we can accommodate in the sanctuary? 

We’ve anticipated using the Fellowship Hall as an overflow space. Members will view service via closed-circuit television in the Fellowship Hall. Because we use chairs in that space, we can implement the 6’ per person separation guideline fairly easily. 


Where do I enter? 

We will limit access to the building to the front entrance off of Pleasant Hill Rd.  In addition, all external and internal doors will be propped open or held open.  It is vital that everyone enter through those doors for temperature and personal protective equipment checks.  Anyone with a temperature of 100 or above will not be permitted in the building.


What time should I arrive for service?

We will open the doors at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings. 


Should I wear a mask? 

We are asking that everyone wear masks upon entering and exiting the building. We strongly recommend that you wear your mask for the duration of service, but wearing your mask is optional once seated.  We are asking that you put your mask back on if you have to move around or exit the sanctuary for any reason. We will have masks and gloves available for those who do not have them. 


Will the bathrooms be open? 

Yes, but it will be limited to two persons at a time, particularly in Phase One. That number will increase as we move to the next phase. We will clean handles and surfaces throughout the morning. 


How will the offering be received? 

Offering plates will not be passed between congregants. Members will give at the end of the service as they exit the building.   


What about Communion? 

Communion trays will not be passed between congregants during Phase One and Two. When we have communion, we will provide prepackaged elements available for you to pick up as you exit the sanctuary. We will have our responsive reading and prayer before members are dismissed, but members will partake of the elements when they return to their vehicle or when they get home.  We will partake together in Phase Three and Four.


Will there be Children’s Ministry available? 

We will not offer any Children’s Ministry during Phases One and Two. It is not possible to ask preschoolers and young children to social distance! So, we anticipate some type of return to Children’s Ministry in Phase Three, although it will be limited in scope. 


Where should I park? 

There are no restrictions on where people can park. Our lot is large and spacious. However, please be mindful of social distancing while exiting cars to enter the building. 


What happens at the conclusion of the service? 

We know that you may want to stay and visit; however, you are requested to maintain social distancing while moving to your cars using the designated exit from the sanctuary. 


Whom do I contact if I have questions I need to be answered before returning to church? 

You are encouraged to talk to your deacon or call the office with any questions. 

st. paul missionary baptist church


5960 Pleasant Hill Rd

Olive Branch, MS 38654

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@2018 St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. 

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