DPPC Reopening Policy After COVID-19

At the May 23, 2020 meeting of Session a policy was approved regarding reopening the church campus. Here are some of the highlights:

In the shadow of our national emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is necessary to remember who we are and whose we are: “In life and in death, we belong not to ourselves but to our faithful savior, Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism). This is as true during a pandemic as it is during seasons of joy, health and wellness.

Further, “We are the Body of Christ, and each members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). That is, we are connected to one another in a covenant of love through Jesus Christ. Understanding who and whose we are, Desert Palms Presbyterian Church (DPPC) seeks to affirm that we have a responsibility of care to each other and, together, for the communities we serve. Therefore, Session has created a policy for the well-being of our members and the communities we serve.

Recently, a significant point of controversy centers around the appropriate timing of reopening our churches. The political, economic and medical conversations of the wider society impact our churches, too… the health and well-being of our congregation is primary; therefore, national, state and local health department advisories have been helpful in making decisions both now and in the future.

The best counsel Session can provide is:

  • Be cautious,
  • Start small,
  • Add activities in gradual, progressive steps,
  • Continually evaluate our local health situation,
  • Be vigilant.

Medical Observations

Our people should be encouraged to discuss their personal situation with their own physician. Accepting this caveat, other observations include a reminder that people with the following underlying conditions are considered to be at greater risk:

  • People over 60 – however, not everyone is the same, which is why folks should talk to their doctor,
  • anyone with an immune-compromising condition,
  • anyone with poorly controlled diabetes,
  • anyone with pulmonary disease,
  • anyone who has had a transplant.
  • Also noted: “Energetic is not the same as low-risk,” so folks should talk to their doctor.

The Session of DPPC has determined that reopening the church will happen in incremental steps. Remember that the ministry of the church has been taking place during the COVID-19 shut down.

In-person activities at the church need to take place with cautious appreciation for what this virus can do to the generation that DPPC serves. In light of that truth, guidelines to protect the well-being of those present at any church function must follow best practices of not spreading COVID-19. Best practices required that all participants at church functions:

  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing … six feet whether standing or sitting around tables
  • Wash hands regularly or use hand sanitizer
  • Do not participate if feeling ill
  • Following the instructions of those who have volunteered to coordinate meetings in safe ways
  • Assisting in cleaning area used

DPPC will commit to …

  • Offering masks to those who forget to bring theirs
  • Providing access to hand sanitizers
  • Reminding people of appropriate distancing
  • Removing paper products that are handled by multiple people
  • Eliminating as much as possible items that have been shared in the past (i.e. offering plates and communion trays)
  • Determining appropriate numbers for each space and event
  • Cleaning physical space after each use before the next use

DPPC’s return to in-person activities will occur in progressive increments:

  • Begin with the reintroduction of staff office hours established by Session
  • Followed by intentional and gradual adding of activities according to our congregation’s ability to maintain Covid-19 related precautions. (Requests must be submitted to the church office.)
  • Calendars will be filled with a focus on the ability to clean spaces between activities. Followed by in-person activities including worship.

In-person Worship Guidelines

Who should come?

Each person must make the decision of what is best for themselves and their families.

Stay home if:

  • You are feeling sick or have a fever.
  • You have a sick family member at home or have been recently exposed to someone who may be sick.
  • You are a primary caretaker of a vulnerable person.
  • You have been traveling or in large crowds.
  • You are at risk because of preexisting conditions or age.
  • You are unwilling to wear a mask while at church.

What will be required?

  • Masks are required to be worn. No singing
  • Accommodate physical distancing, even using multiple services, if necessary.
  • Seating every-other pew. Markings on pews to indicate where to sit in order to maintain social distancing. Other rooms may be utilized such as Fellowship Hall when sanctuary is full.
  • Doors remain open or opened by gloved volunteers stationed at all doors.
  • Continue virtual worship as an alternative offering for worship. When worship returns to in-person, those without virtual access should have first access to the sanctuary.

What is going to be different for now?

  • Numbers of people in each service will be limited based on social distancing and seating capacity.
  • Seating may be assigned or designated to help keep people physically distant.
  • Greetings with handshakes and hugs are not acceptable
  • Offerings will be received at conclusion of worship in boxes by exits
  • No hymnals, bulletins or paper products
  • Communion plates will not be passed
  • Planned traffic flow for entering and exiting. Seating by greeter/usher. Front of sanctuary filled first front to the back. When exiting dismissed from back of sanctuary first.

Things to remember as we return to church [Covid 19]

  • Be Healthy: Public places on campus are frequently cleaned and sanitized. It is important for individuals and families to take personal responsibility to protect themselves.
  • Be Smart: Social distancing and spacing must be practiced by all individuals on campus. All are strongly encouraged to follow CDC guidelines for handwashing and hand sanitizer use. Masks or cloth face coverings will be used.
  • Be Holy: Remember to be patient and kind.


  • Live streaming worship will continue
  • Palms will be offered digitally.
  • Phone tree, web site, email and Facebook page will be sources of communication.
  • “Cleaning Teams” need to be established to sanitize all rooms after every gathering.
  • No food or drink will be distributed from church. No coffee bar at Fellowship Hour.
  • Outside groups are expected to follow the same guidelines practiced by the congregation.
Last Published: May 23, 2021 11:59 AM
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