FAQ’s Regarding Gov. Mills’ New Church Attendance Restrictions
There have been many questions about the governor’s change in her executive orders concerning church attendance restrictions. As we attempt to answer those questions and explain the changes, the League is not in any way endorsing the restrictions. Neither are we prescribing how local churches and their leadership should respond. Our goal is to inform the local church so they can prayerfully make these difficult decisions moving forward.
One thing I do feel confident suggesting is that we endeavor to keep unity in the Body of Christ. There will be great diversity among us as this pandemic and the government’s reactions persist. I fervently pray we offer one another grace and liberty as we continue to navigate these challenges. It breaks my heart when I hear how local congregations and pastoral fellowships are being torn apart by these circumstances.
These answers are based upon my direct consultation with the Mill’s administration. These answers do not reference the issue of whether or not state and/or local authorities have or will enforce the executive orders. I have also purposely avoided addressing the constitutionality of the executive orders as that is presently being addressed by our legal resources and counsel.
How does the change from a hard cap of 50 to square footage affect my church?
Before last Friday’s announcement, all churches, regardless of the size of any auditorium, could not allow more than 50 attendees. The new standard of 5 people per 1,000 sq ft does allow very large churches to seat more people. In reality, this will affect very few ministries. Consider a church with an auditorium with a seating capacity of 750 people and 9,000 sq ft. The new standard would allow just 45 attendees (9,000 sq ft x 5/1000 sq ft). However, the new standard states 5 people per 1,000 sq ft or 50 attendees, whichever is the larger of the two. This is based on the assumption that social distancing and mask wearing are being enforced.
Does the restriction of attendees include officiants on the platform (i.e., pastors, worship team, readers, etc.)?
The countable number of attendees includes anyone present in the auditorium/sanctuary during the worship service.
Who is required to wear a mask?
The present mask requirement applies to anyone in a public space (which legally includes houses of worship). This standard does apply to officiants.
When calculating the square footage of a building, can fellowship halls, foyers, and other areas be included?
The square footage calculation is based upon the room in which people are sitting. Each room or area where worshippers are congregated must be calculated separately.
Can we sit 50 people in our main auditorium and 50 people in our gym and 50 people in our fellowship hall?
Yes. This calculation, referred to as disaggregation, is allowable assuming social distancing can be maintained.
Are churches allowed to create separate zones in their auditoriums utilizing barriers (curtains, petitions, large spaces, etc.) similar to the practice presently allowed by casinos?
Even though we are facing restrictions due to the pandemic, we are still willing to serve your ministry by speaking in person or recording services for you. If you are interested in the League helping out with your pulpit needs, contact Carroll at email@example.com