Returning Safely with Care & Compassion

We know these times are filled with uncertainty and mixed feelings about how and when we will re-enter into a more normal rhythm. Our primary concern in our re-entry plan is the health and well-being of all of those in our community: caring for the needs of our neighbor, understanding the different realities of our varied population, and showing grace to one another in love.

 We want to also make clear that this plan is not set in stone. As things continue to develop and courses of action change, we want to remain flexible to respond to the needs of our community. This potential re-entry plan simply outlines our best approach at re-acclimating to our current situation to the best of our abilities.

 In a recent news release, Governor Inslee indicated that Washington would not resume all activities at once but would slowly return in various stages. Below is our outline of five phases responding to the “dialing up” of activity. *Note that we have included an additional phase (PHASE 5) as Phases 1 & 2 remain the same for our activities. 

Helpful Link (WA Phased Reopening Chart):

We will initiate each phase two weeks after an official statewide change has been made to insure we are doing our part in trying to avoid a potential resurgence. We will stay in each phase until the new criteria for the next phase is met. These phases will not necessarily move in succession as the virus may have a re-emergence and we may need to move back to a previous phase.

Our Children of the Valley after school program and Bethany Christian Preschool will follow our school district’s guidelines.

This image provides a summary of how we are planning to handle each of these phases. Greater detail and information directly regarding, youth ministry, children’s ministry, and corporate singing is included below.


  • Much of our current reality will remain the same during these phases: our building will remain closed, weekly activities will remain postponed, and our Sunday services will remain online only.
  • Our staff will continue to work remotely, as possible.
  • Children of the Valley may use the portables to care for children of essential workers in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club. Kitchen may be used by limited staff members to prepare food.


  • Any gathering that can be held online should remain so during this phase.
  • Groups that meet the requirement of 50 or fewer may choose to meet; however, our building will remain closed to prioritize the service Children of the Valley is providing for children of essential workers. Children of the Valley will be permitted to use the church gym for gatherings of less than 50 people.
  • All midweek activities, Bible studies, and rehearsals in the building will remain suspended during this phase.
  • Our living room liturgy and Bethany en Español broadcasts will return to the building.
  • If consultation with health care officials allows, in addition to our living room liturgy broadcast, we will launch a new Home Church initiative. For those that feel comfortable, we will encourage existing Home Groups and the formation of new groups to gather in homes to engage in Sunday services together. For those that are unable or do not feel comfortable gathering, we will also host a digital Home Church through Zoom. We will send out more information in the weeks ahead.
  • Memorial & wedding services will be limited to 50 or fewer participants. These services can be recorded or live streamed as requested. 
  • Our staff will continue to work remotely, as possible.


  • During this phase, we will resume our Sunday morning services with extra cleaning measures and sanitation precautions. There will be hand sanitizer and face masks available at each of the main entrances. The pews will be sectioned off to designate appropriate social distancing. Between services, the sanctuary will be disinfected.
  • There will be no nursery or kids plug-in during this phase. Children will remain with families during the service.
  • There will be no Christian Formation hour during this phase to ensure we are able to properly disinfect spaces between services.
  • We will continue to provide an online streaming broadcast of either our services or a digital alternative similar to our living room liturgy.
  • If this phase occurs during the fall, our midweek and weekly activities will resume during this phase; however, we may need to stagger the resuming of these activities in conjunction with our Sunday services.  We may need to make adjustments to times and locations to ensure we meet size limitations and are able to properly disinfect spaces.
  • Memorial & wedding services will be limited to 250 or fewer participants. These services can be recorded or live streamed as requested. 
  • Our main office will reopen during this phase.
  • Outside groups will have limited access to the building during this phase on a case by case basis.


  • This phase will occur no sooner than one month after PHASE 4.
  • We will continue to take measures to insure the safety and health of our community with deep cleaning and the continued availability of hand sanitizer and face masks.
  • Our nursery and plug-in for kids will resume during this phase.
  • Christian formation hour will resume during this phase.
  • We will continue to provide an online worship experience.
  • We’ll likely have to have a party.


  • We will reschedule the installation service for Bethany en Español when we are in Phase 4 or later.
  • We will reschedule Confirmation Sunday when we are in Phase 3 or later.
  • Our Congregational Annual Meeting will be held digitally via Zoom on June 14 at 11:30am. More information will follow as we get closer.
  • Our summer youth trip, Sojourn, has been cancelled. Depending on how the summer looks, there may be a shorter local experience.
  • Our Bethany Kids Camp will be virtual this year and held on August 4-7
  • We are waiting to make any definitive plans for all of our fall events.


  • Phase 1 & 2: Youth Group gatherings will continue to meet online (through Zoom). Small groups can connect via online platforms.
  • Phase 3: Youth Group gatherings will move to in person gatherings outside (as weather allows). Small groups will have time to connect during those outdoor gatherings and will maintain social distancing. 
  • Phase 4: (will take place two weeks after Phase 4 has been initiated statewide, or one month after students go back to school) Youth Group will resume in the church building. 
    • Students and leaders will stay on the south side of the building, using only the south side doors and east back doors. 
    • Option: using the gym for large group worship/message to ensure good social distancing 
  • Phase 5: All restrictions lifted one month after phase 5 have been initiated statewide. 


  • Phase 1 & 2: Bethany Kids gatherings will continue to meet online (through Zoom) in Grade specific meeting times until the 2019 school year ends. 
  • Phase 3: Continued outreach and resourcing of families for worship at home through Bethany Kids Online.
  • Phase 4: Family Worship will be encouraged during Bethany’s Sunday Worship Services. 
    • Children’s Messages will remain a part of the service, with kids remaining with their family.
    • Coloring sheets and Kids Worship Bulletins will be provided, while parents will be advised to bring their own washable markers, crayons, or colored pencils for their kid(s).
    • Bethany Kids FRIDAZE ministry for Kids in Grades 4-6 will take place two weeks after Phase 4 has been initiated statewide, or one month after students go back to school).
    • Students and leaders will stay on the south side of the building and utilize the Gym and Room 406 only, using only the South Side doors as entrance & exit.
  • Phase 5: All restrictions lifted one month after phase 5 have been initiated statewide.
    • Nursery will be continue to be for Kids Birth thru Age 3
    • Plug-in will be for PreK & K kids only

Cancelled or Reimagined Events: Bethany Kids Camp will be a Virtual Experience for 2020. Kids Camp will now be held on August 4-7. All daily Large Group Worship and Teaching Times will be hosted at our Bethany Kids Facebook Page and our Bethany Kids Online site (the experience will be similar to streaming our Sunday Living Room Liturgies). Kids registered by June 30 will receive an At-Home Kit with Small Group and Craft lessons. We are entering into this summer fully expecting families to participate in Kids Camp one family in one home. However, depending on statewide restrictions the week of August 4-7 there may be the option for 2-3 families to participate together in smaller groups in one home.


Many of us have heard about the COVID-19 outbreak at a rehearsal of the Skagit Valley Chorale, in which 42 of the 55 members present were infected and two died. Partially in response to this tragedy, the major choral and vocal arts associations in the United States hosted a May 5, 2020 webinar in which they heard from scientific experts on the transmission of COVID-19 through singing. Here are some of the findings of these experts:

  • The forceful exhalation of air during singing tends to deliver viruses in an aerosol format, rather than in the droplets associated with regular speaking.
  • Because these aerosolized viruses can float around in airstreams for an extended period of time, social distancing is not effective in protecting people who are singing or in proximity to others who are singing.
  • Masks do not provide safe or effective protection for singing, because poor-fitting masks do not prevent the forceful expulsion of air, and conversely even the best-fitting N95 masks can cause headaches and asthma-like symptoms for singers due to depleted oxygen levels and elevated CO2 levels.
  • Until the spread of COVID-19 has been brought under control through a vaccine, effective antiviral treatment, and/or rigorous public health measures like testing and contact tracing, the activity of group singing will carry significant potential health risk.


  • Phases 1 & 2 – Any activity that requires singing—not just choir rehearsals, but also worship services, Bible study gatherings, children’s and youth ministries, etc.—will take place with individuals singing from the safety of their homes.
  • Phase 3 – Group singing even in small gatherings is discouraged. During this phase leaders should encourage those who are gathered together to “make melody in their hearts” but not with their voices. Assure people that this is not forever, but that it may be for a significant period of time.
  • Phase 4 – Unless COVID-19 has been brought largely under control in our state, group singing at this phase will continue to carry significant potential risk. If we decide to resume singing in this phase, the following safeguards should be considered: 
    • Be sure rooms where singing occurs are well ventilated, with fans that replace the air in the room several times per hour. This reduces but does not eliminate the risk of aerosolized viruses remaining in the air.
    • Consider other means of air purification and virus abatement, such as ultraviolet light purification, as those technologies develop.
    • Screen all participants (including leaders) at the door and require any with fevers or other symptoms to return home—while being aware that evidence suggests those infected with COVID-19 may be most contagious just before becoming symptomatic.
    • Make worshipers aware of the risks when they participate in group singing, or when they gather with or attend concerts with others who are singing, so those who are at greater risk may self-select out.
    • Be prepared with extra liability insurance to cover those who may contract COVID-19 in church gatherings where singing has occurred.
  • Phase 5 – By the time all restrictions are lifted, it is hoped that the spread of COVID-19 will be brought under control in our state. The ability to sing together again safely will definitely be an expression of celebration!
  • Cancelled or Reimagined Events – While we do not yet have the knowledge to make decisions about events like our Christmas Musical or Tulip Festival Concert, these events draw such large crowds that—out of safety concerns—we may need to consider making these virtual online events in the coming year. While this seems like a loss in some ways, the possibility that virtual video renditions of these programs could be watched online anytime by people anywhere is a significant positive consolation. The fact that the choir and music worship team have already begun doing such virtual projects gives us some idea of how producing such events might work.


We know there is a lot of information to digest and want to do the best we can in answering whatever questions you may have.