United Methodist Church of Libertyville (UMCL) COVID-19 Guidelines



A UMCL Safe Church Committee (Safety Committee) has been formed to ensure that our congregation follows best practices related to gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the Northern Illinois Conference (UMC) provided guidelines pertaining to how churches should plan for changes as the state transitions through each phase of COVID-19 precautions.   Our Safe Church Committee has studied the State of Illinois requirements and the plan distributed by the Northern Illinois Conference in determining specific guidelines for UMCL.

Today, there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.  The only tools we have to combat the spread and effects of the virus causing the disease are separation (social distancing) and sanitation.  Most frequently, a virus spreads through very small water droplets expelled from the mouth and nose by coughs and sneezes.  These droplets are so small that they float in the air for many minutes.  Some of the droplets will fall on the surface of furniture and fixtures.  People touching these surfaces may be able to infect themselves if they immediately touch their face, their eye or the inside of their mouth.  Depending on the surface, the virus is inactivated within minutes or hours after landing.  The virus could also be transferred to door knobs, chair backs, switches, office stationary items and other places frequently touched by many people.  These surfaces should be cleaned with sanitizing wipes after every group meeting.  Other surfaces should be cleaned as part of normal, periodic cleaning[1] [2].

Given the guidelines from the CDC, the State of Illinois and the Northern Illinois Conference, our Safe Church Committee continues to discuss how the church will adapt as the State transitions from Phases II to III and III to IV.  

While Phase III is currently in effect, and it allows for gathering of groups of less than 10, we do not anticipate any changes to our current guidelines and  policies.   What does this mean?

  1. Services will continue to be virtual, with the Pastors working on recording the service from the sanctuary.
  2. The staff will slowly begin to phase back in to the building with close attention to safe distancing and overall numbers of people in the building.
  3. The Safety Committee will continue to work on updated guidance for the transition to Phase IV, which we anticipate later in June.
  4. Even at Phase IV (groups less than 50 can meet), we are considering the risks and rewards for services in the sanctuary. We are working on creative alternatives, but still need to develop plans to control social distancing and attendance limits.
  5. We have asked the Youth team to develop a plan for youth meetings. This is a difficult issue in that our youth enjoy being together, but we have to ensure the safety of the youth in these gatherings. 
  6. Masks will continue to be worn at all times in the building.

Until there is a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, the church will not hold or sponsor any large gatherings in the building. 

Expect an updated issue of this report in the near future.


Q:   What phase is the state of Illinois currently in and what does that mean to our congregation?

A:   The state of Illinois is currently in Phase III (as of 5/29) and will possibly transition to Phase IV at the end of June.   For our congregation, the following applies to Phase III:

  • Virtual Services will continue indefinitely.
  • The building will remain closed for all but the staff and essential personnel.
  • Essential office spaces and areas will be disinfected on an as needed basis to ensure the safety of the staff and key personnel.
  • Planning will continue for the transition to Phase IV

Regarding Phase IV: 

  • We are still considering the risks and rewards for services in the sanctuary. We are working on creative alternatives, but have to develop plans to control social distancing and overall attendance.
  • We anticipate that the building will be available (on a scheduled basis) for small committees and groups to meet, but strict controls will be in place for entering and exiting the building and ensuring that all applicable meeting areas are properly disinfected.  


Q:   There has been a lot of discussion about “contact tracing.”   How will UMCL do this?

A:   As we begin to allow access to the staff in Phase III and small groups in Phase IV, we will establish an entry/exit point with a logbook that will require individuals to log in, indicating when and where they went and when they leave the building.   This will let us know with whom they were in contact should anyone contract COVID-19.


Q:   Can we have food or beverages with our meetings?

A:   Currently, no shared food or drink is allowed.  


Q:  Why is there hesitancy toward holding services in the sanctuary during Phase IV?

A:  This is a tough question.  Unfortunately, the coordination required to hold multiple services of less than 40 people (there will be at least 5-10 to run the service) is extensive and not practical.   The facility must be disinfected before and after each service, spacing has to be determined in the sanctuary and control over parking and entry/exit must be enforced. Communion, as we are accustomed to it, cannot be given, singing is strongly not recommended; there is even a recommendation for pastors to wear face shields.  Masks must continue to be worn.   Given all of these requirements and the preparation required, it simply is not effective to hold services for 40 people. 


Q:  Will the church provide sanitizing materials?

A:  Yes.  The church has procured sanitizer “stations” for emplacement throughout the facility. The trustees will be tasked to prepare a plan to procure either the services to disinfect rooms and facilities, or the equipment to do it internally.   Additionally, safe distancing guidelines will be posted throughout the building, and maps of hand sanitizer locations will be posted.  


Q:  What about the youth programs?

A:  Youth will not be able to meet in the building until Phase IV.   We are working with the youth ministry to develop a plan for them to start in Phase III.  


Q:  What about choir?

A:  Unfortunately, our choir cannot safely perform together anytime soon – even after Phase IV.   Singing, unfortunately, is a very prolific way that COVID-19 can spread.   We are evaluating whether the Bells can record after Phase IV, but our music will continue to be both virtual and/or solo performances. 


Q:   My committee would like to meet at the church.   What do we do?

A:   In the coming weeks, guidance will be provided on where and how to reserve spaces for meetings during Phase IV.   Each room in the building will be analyzed for capacity to meet safe distancing guidelines.   Dependent on your meeting size, a room may be scheduled. Participants will be required to “log in” and “log out” as they enter/exit the building and to practice social distancing and safe practices.


Q:  Will the restrooms be available?

A:  Yes, but they will be limited to one person at a time and signs or locks will be in place to control access.   They will be disinfected as required.


Safe Church Committee

Mike Foley, Chair                                     John Aten

Jay Carr, Senior Pastor                            Tom Seibert
Dave Aumuller                                          Steve March
Herb Spooner


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

[2] https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2