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Lycoming County -- Spiritual leaders from the United Churches of Lycoming County and medical professionals from UPMC in the Susquehanna region have partnered to develop faith-based, medically sound guidelines to help spiritual leaders reopen places of worship while keeping congregations safe.

The Getting Back to Worship Safety Guide contains guidance for establishing a minimal set of standards for resuming faith traditions, including social distancing, facility and material sanitation, personal protective equipment, and illness protocols.

“During this COVID–19 pandemic, our communities have done an extraordinary job keeping our citizens safe and well,” said Steve Johnson, president, UPMC in the Susquehanna region. “At UPMC in the Susquehanna region, our faith-based mission of extending God’s healing love by providing outstanding patient care includes our commitment to provide care to the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, we support rebuilding a healthy economy, reestablishing a safe and responsive health care system, and reopening places of worship.”

The guidebook acknowledges that the guidelines may be subject to change as the medical and scientific communities learn more about COVID-19. It also reinforces the importance of following the most up-to-date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have all been busy these past few months adapting to changes in the ways we care for our congregations and our community,” said Gwen Bernstine, executive director, United Churches of Lycoming County. “Congregations and spiritual leaders have faithfully worked amid the uncertainty, grief, unanswered questions, and losses that surround us all, to stay strong and to keep the faith. With trust in God, they’ve embraced new ways to connect to members of the congregation, friends, and family. Now, we face more change as we begin the processes of safely coming back together.”

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.