2021 Reopening Plan

The well-being of those participating in activities at St. Matthew is of paramount importance. The goal of this plan is to put forth protocols to help ensure the safety of those coming into our building. The success of this plan relies on individuals and groups understanding their role in providing for their own welfare as well as that of others.


The Task Force has changed item #4 as New Jersey recommends social distancing for unvaccinated only.

  1. If you are vaccinated – it is your choice whether to wear a mask.
  2. If you are not yet vaccinated, please be mindful of others (especially those who cannot yet be vaccinated like our little ones).
  3. If you are near a child or someone who you know isn’t vaccinated, please do wear a mask.
  4.  Social distancing is recommended for those not fully vaccinated.

General Rules

These apply to worship and all other uses.

Before you enter

  • If you or someone in your household is not feeling well in any way, or running a temperature, please stay home.
  • If someone in your group tests positive for Covid-19, or has knowingly been exposed, they should not enter the building.

For all entering

  • A mask is required to be worn at all times when in the building. Groups should consider having masks available for those who come without one.
  • Physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Use hand sanitizer as you enter the building.
  • Avoid physical contact with people and objects.

What to expect in the building

  • There are signs placed throughout the building stating these rules.
  • The elevator is closed; all access to the Fellowship Hall is by stairs.
  • The office is closed, except for use of the bathroom for those that are unable to manage the stairs.
  • Restroom use should be minimized.
    • One user in the bathroom at a time
    • Distance lines will be marked outside of the restroom for those waiting
    • Users are to disinfect/wipe down the area after use.
  • People are not to congregate in hallways, the narthex (foyer) or at entrances to the building.
  • For contact tracing, please provide your name to the usher or meeting host.
  • To maintain safe distance while moving in the building, some areas will have arrows and other signage about where to walk. Follow the signage directions.

If you are unwilling to follow these guidelines, please stay home.

Preparation to Open

The Sanctuary, office, narthex, meeting rooms and main hall will be deep cleaned before the initial opening.

Signage and disinfecting stations will be installed.

Alternate pews will be roped off in the Sanctuary.

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The Worship and Music ministry has developed a separate plan that goes into the details of organizing worship and the conduct of the service.

This Reopening Plan addresses the measures being taken for purposes of in person worship.

The service will continue to be live streamed.

The number of people able to worship in the sanctuary will be limited to:

  • 36 spots for family groups or individuals, due to the need for safe distancing.
  • A maximum of 50 worshippers in total.

To ensure that those wishing to worship in person have fair opportunity, there will be a sign-up system.

  • You will need to reserve a spot in advance by contacting the church office.
  • Specify the number in your party when placing a reservation
  • For regular worship, reservations more than a week or two out are discouraged until we have more experience on how many wish to worship in person.
  • For special events (weddings, baptisms, etc. when those resume) advance reservations will be handled on a case by case basis.

Entrance and exit doors will be clearly marked. You will need to exit directly after the service.

Available seating in the pews will be clearly marked. Ushers will have the reservation list, and they will help worshippers find their seats.

Bulletins will be placed in the pews prior to each service and will also be available online. Please take your bulletin with you at the conclusion of the service as you leave the Sanctuary.

Hymnals and other pew items will be removed from the pews in advance of the reopening of St. Matthew.

We will need to refrain from communal singing and unison speaking.

Offering plates will be found on tables as you enter the sanctuary for collection purposes as opposed to being passed during the service.

There will be no sign-up tables or coffee in the narthex since we will not be able to visit in the narthex.

Greeting each other should be restricted to a wave, smile and nod. Unfortunately, that means no handshakes or hugs.

If we begin multiple services, sanitizing precautions will then be taken between services.

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During the initial reopening, worship services will not include communion.

  • There may be special services, with limited attendance, just for communion.

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Children will remain with their parents during worship.

Sunday School will meet virtually.

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Groups and meetings

St. Matthew’s groups and ministries may schedule in person meetings beginning September 1, 2020. They can continue to meet via online sources.

  • Outside groups should liaise with the office to determine when they will be able to meet. This is expected to be after January 1, 2021

The following is the capacities of the rooms available for use when a 6’ distance is maintained are:

Sanctuary 36 Sites. A site can accommodate a family group (up to 5)
Fellowship Hall 42 Using plastic chairs and tables that can be wiped down
Library 20 Using plastic chairs and tables that can be wiped down
We note that the Shockey Lounge will not be available at this time due to challenges with keeping upholstered furniture disinfected.

Meeting rooms must be reserved in advance through the office.

All groups must communicate with their members regarding these General Rules and all restrictions.

Minutes, lesson sheets, and reference materials should be sent out via internet and not handed out.

The users must disinfect all surfaces (no bleach products on fabrics) before and after use – including tables, chairs, rails, and door.

No shared refreshments are allowed.

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Office Procedures

The Office will publish its schedule, and additional office specific rules and guidelines. In general, outside doors will remain locked during office hours. Visitors should call ahead before coming to the church office. Expect that all materials delivered to the office will be left in the foyer.

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Food Pantry

The food pantry has been operating during these COVID-19 times. The pantry has developed systems and rules for maintaining social distance and limiting building access.

The food pantry coordinates its rules and procedures with the church and will continue operation following those rules and procedures.

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COVID Contact Tracing and Incident Response

A register of attendees at each worship service, meeting and/or event will be maintained with sufficient information to allow for contact tracing.

  • Completed attendance registers for each event will be returned to a designated spot in the office vestibule.
  • All attendance registers will be treated as confidential.
  • Attendance registers will be shared with the Health authorities if requested.

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Facility Turnaround

Ministry groups using rooms at St. Matthew are to disinfect the areas they use at the end of their use.

The sanctuary will be closed and not used between worship services. The CDC says that if a space is not used for 1 week, additional cleaning and disinfecting is not necessary

If a space will be used again in less than a week, it must be disinfected by wiping down surfaces with a disinfecting solution and/or disinfecting wipes and/or fogging. All surfaces used as well as common touch surfaces such as tabletops, door handles, push panels and light switches must be wiped down.

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Sunday Worship

9:30AM In-Person & Live Streaming Worship. Children's Chapel (4-6th grade) following Children's Time View bulletin & YouTube worship link.
10:30AM Fellowship Time
11AM Sunday School & Congregational Activity Time

318 Chester Avenue, Moorestown, NJ 856-235-2055 • stmatthew@stmatthew-lutheran.org

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Mission Statement

Saint Matthew Lutheran Church is a community of disciples reaching out through Christ in loving worship, witness, and service.