CONNECT Ministries offering toolkit for safely reopening churches

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While Knox County establishments like bars, amusement parks and pools prepare to reopen after closing due to COVID-19, some churches are also preparing to restart in-person services with a little help from CONNECT Ministries.

After concerns were raised at the weekly teleconference held by city Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie, more than 60 African American faith leaders from varying faiths came together to create a reopen toolkit. The kits contained sample products and directions on how to open their building safely.

The kits can be picked up at the Community Organizations Networking Neighborhoods Encourgating Change Together Ministries building, 3615 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. 

“So, I’m here today to get some essential tools that are necessary for opening our churches back and making sure that as we return, we’re doing so in a safe and proper manner,” Charles F. Lomax Jr., Knoxville community empowerment director. 

According to the Tennessee Department of Health guidelines for houses of worship, church members can meet in person, but capacity must be limited to 50% and members not from the same household should stay 6 feet apart.  

“This is for our small churches, churches with 25 members, and our churches with 500 members and more,” C.O.N.N.E.C.T. Ministries Program Director Cynthia Finch said. “They need to plan, prepare and definitely need to pray to get everything ready for their members to come back because the church building will eventually open. But when we come back, we want to make sure that we have a process that is safe and efficient. We must increase the trust level of the leadership.”

Each church is encouraged to appoint a COVID-19 coordinator and workgroup for their church to develop a plan for opening their building. 

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