Restrictions on the use of the Christian Reformed Church’s office buildings in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Burlington, Ont., and guidelines for international and domestic staff that were put in place in mid-March to minimize the health risks of the novel coronavirus pandemic have been updated and continue to be in place.
The CRC’s COVID-19 international monitoring team, which has been meeting every other week, issued an update for staff after its June 24 meeting. The domestic team meets weekly and issued an update June 22.
“The international travel restrictions for CRCNA should continue until the end of the calendar year (December 2020),” the international team’s update said. Zachary King, director of Resonate Global Mission, convenes that team. He told The Banner, “Resonate is making a deliberate effort to provide spaces of care and support for missionaries around the world. There continue to be many timely opportunities to share the hope of Christ to people living in an anxious time around the world.”
King noted that the travel restrictions have meant Resonate missionaries have had to cancel summer and fall plans to ReConnect (formerly called home service). Instead, “missionaries are experimenting with virtual tools for presenting ministry and updating churches and donors for their ministry,” King said.
The North American offices of the CRC are set to begin stage one of reopening as of July 6. This stage will see just a few staff members in the previously closed office buildings, said Kristen VanderBerg, CRC communication director, who serves on both monitoring teams.
“Things will be staggered so that no more than 10 are in the office at any time. In both countries, office spaces will be spread out, directional arrows will be placed on the floor for narrow hallways, etc.,” VanderBerg said.
The domestic monitoring team’s update reiterated that work-related travel and work-related meetings outside of the office remain restricted, except for traveling to preach in a church, if requested by the congregation, and if a donor requests a local, outdoor, one-on-one meeting with donor development staff.
“We recognize that some of our congregations have returned to meeting in person, and that staff have been asked to preach at some of these churches,” the update read. “Staff may travel to preach if it does not involve air travel, is within a reasonable driving distance, if the church is complying with standard COVID-19 precautions, and if the staff member feels comfortable going.”
The stage one reopening involves only a total of 13 staff members in Grand Rapids and 14 in Burlington. Not all will be in the buildings every day. Denominational staff not part of stage one continue to work from home and will have to get pre-approval to enter the buildings for any reason. The buildings remain closed to visitors or volunteers.