Online Service Times : 9:00am | 11:00am | 6:00pm

Oak ridge reopening plan

After a significant amount of planning, prayer and preparation, we have decided to open on August 2nd.

We're committed to creating an environment that meets local, state and CDC recommendations for safety. To make that possible, our weekend services have been redesigned to create a sanitary, touch-less environment that allows for physical distancing.

Some temporary modifications on reopening:
We will begin with two service times on Sunday in both of our adult venues. (9 am & 11 am)
Our 6 pm service will continue to meet online. 
We will not open with Family Ministry programming (Birth-12th grade) This will be phased in after we are able to staff and run the programs in a manner that meets CDC regulations and social distancing.

Let’s Work Together to Stay Healthy

What We’re Doing:
  • Staff and volunteers that interact with our guests will be wearing masks.
  • We have adjusted staff and volunteer roles to help everyone safely navigate the experience.
  • Additional hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building.
  • All services will be a “touch-less” experience.
  • Prior to and in-between services, all areas accessed by guests, will be sanitized in compliance with CDC recommendations.
  • No water fountains will be open or usable.
  • All seatback materials, papers, and pens will be removed.
  • Pens, message notes and offering envelopes will be appropriately spaced and available at a table in the back of the venues.
  • Auditorium seating has been redesigned to ensure physical distancing throughout the worship experience.

How You Can Help:
  • When you are on campus all guests are required to cover their mouth and nose with a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC. (See CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance for more detailed information.)
  • Individuals with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, stay home and join us at Oak Ridge Messages.
  • If possible, use electronic notes and give electronically to reduce cross contamination at the venue tables in the back. (This can be  done through our App)
  • Please wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer often.
  • Maintain a distance of six feet between yourself and other guests.
  • When parking, keep a parking space open between you and the next vehicle on both sides.

As always we want you to feel at ease when returning to church.  Therefore, if you need some time to feel comfortable we would encourage you to continue joining us online as we continue advancing the mission of Hope & Healing to Hearts & Homes together!

Reopening Q & A

We have put tons of prayer and planning into our reopening. We did not reopen when Governor Hogan first announced that churches could gather. Instead we waited for the right time and when we felt we were ready. We recognize that there are as many opinions in this current pandemic as there have been cases. Oak Ridge, like all essential businesses, will do our very best to navigate this complex maze called “the new norm” with wisdom, care and respect for all views.

With that in mind, here is a list of the most common questions people have had about our August 2nd reopening.

1. Why are we reopening?

Because nothing is more essential than hope! Our church exists to bring hope and healing and we need both now more than ever.

The church was established to be the physical hands and feet of Jesus on earth, and although online services are a great way for us to communicate the gospel, God designed the local church to meet our deepest needs when we come together in community.

When we gather in person, we…
• Experience God’s presence (Matthew 18:20)
Encourage God’s people (Hebrews 10:25)
• Engage in God’s principles (Acts 13:44)
• Empower God’s purposes (1 Peter 4:10)
Enlarge God’s province (Matthew 28:19)

The New Testament word for church, ekklesia, literally means “to gather,” and from that word we derive the English word TOGETHER.
In a nutshell, it’s hard TO GATHER
when we’re not TOGETHER.

2. I thought we were waiting until Phase 3. Why are we reopening now?

Because the goal post has been moved for Phase 3.
Somewhere along the way we stopped talking about the reason for the shutdown, which was to control the surge, not wait for a vaccine.

Shortly after the state of Maryland shut down, we were provided with a 3-phase document from Governor Hogan on the Maryland Roadmap to Recovery. This document was provided in April and showed three phases, each with specific markers for reopening and what businesses would be allowed to reopen at each phase. Even though the document stated that church leaders were included in the formulation of the roadmap, churches were not even mentioned in the initial plan.

Since that time two substantial changes have occurred:
1) The Governor, though continuing to move forward, has added additional requisites along the way and has created new “sub-phases.” Businesses and churches have no idea what changes to the roadmap might occur until the next impromptu press conference.
2) All the markers that precipitated the lockdown have been met, specifically PPE supplies, surge bedding, ventilators, and contact tracing. These goals were all met in early June, and yet for some reason we still have not reopened.

Because our reopening coincides with all State and local guidelines.
Governor Hogan allowed churches to reopen at 50% capacity in June.

The city of Salisbury rescinded its previous 50-person limit of gatherings July 8th.

Initially, we chose to wait a bit longer feeling certain that Governor Hogan would follow the Roadmap to Recovery and move to Phase 3. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any clear criteria for when we may move to Phase 3, and we aren’t sure whether Phase 3 will even adhere to the original guidelines

Because our vital numbers in the state and more importantly, in Wicomico County have continued to do well.
Therefore, we decided to proceed with a phased reopening on August 2nd.

3. Who SHOULD / SHOULD NOT attend at this time?

It is important that only those who are healthy and ready to return should do so. Anyone who fits the vulnerable or at-risk category should not return at this time.

In addition, anyone who feels uncomfortable returning to church at this time should not feel guilty. Simply continue joining us online.

Please refer to the following lists when deciding if you should attend in person
Good To Return:
• Healthy
Fever free
• No flu-like symptoms
• Have not been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
• Have no chronic health conditions
Should Not Return:
• Poor Health
• Have had a fever in the last 2 weeks
• Any flu-like symptoms in the last 2 weeks
• Have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
• Immunocompromised, have any lung disease or chronic medical conditions
Those who fit the “should not return” category should continue worshipping online.

4. What are we doing to maximize safety?

Auditorium seating has been redesigned to ensure physical distancing throughout the worship experience: This seating arrangement puts us well under the required 50% occupancy. In addition, we will carefully monitor total attendees per venue to optimize for approximately 60-70% of seating. This places our guest level at approximately 27%, nearly half of the maximum allowed by the State for church gatherings.
Masks worn the entire time you are on campus
Water fountains will be closed.
Prior to and in-between services, all areas accessed by guests, will be sanitized in compliance with CDC recommendations.
“Touchless” message notes and offering.
Additional hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the building.

5. What will be different? What will be expected of me and my family?

In order to maximize guest safety at our in-person gatherings, we have made several changes you will want to be aware of.

• We ask that when you park, you leave one empty parking space between your vehicle and others.
You will be asked to wear a mask when you are on campus
Offering is encouraged digitally but we will have baskets located at the doors as you leave.
No Family Ministry will be available initially.
Chairs will be spaced for social distancing. Please leave 3 seats between your family and others.
Live and Theater venues will be open. The Ridge will be available as an overflow venue.
Greeters will not engage in physical touch (handshakes/hugs)
We will release by rows and stagger release times for each venue.
We ask that you fellowship outdoors and not in the lobby.

We will have safe, distanced seating to accommodate the following:
Notes: Estimates vary based on number in family units. Based on our polling, this should be adequate for initial opening. As attendance numbers rise, we will need to return to our 9:00, 10:30 and 12:00 times.
6. When will Family Ministry reopen?

It’s extremely difficult to open our Family Ministry when the schools have not stated that they will reopen. This causes confusion for most families as to whether their children will be safe in a program environment.

Therefore, it makes sense that we reopen in stages with general worship services first and then add additional program ministries as Maryland continues progress in the Roadmap to Recovery.

7. Aren’t churches considered a “hotspot” for spreading the virus?

Regretfully, most media reports about churches being “hotspots” or “superspreaders” is highly misleading. Most of this information was derived from the earliest days of the Corona virus and is linked to churches and gatherings that were not practicing any safety protocols.
Attending ORBC’s safe-service environment is as “dangerous” as any other public activity.
Our advice is that if you are not comfortable going to a public outlet of any kind, then you should continue to join us online.

9. Shouldn’t we wait until there is a “cure” or vaccine?

There is no cure for COVID-19.

The best-case scenario is a vaccine and improved treatments.

Although medical researchers are telling us that some form of vaccine could be available in the next year, it may take several years for an “effective” vaccine to be developed.

It’s important to understand that even the best vaccines that have been on the market for decades are not guaranteed protection. According to the CDC, our current flu vaccines “reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.”

10. Connect Cards used for contact tracing.

As one would expect in any public setting such as a restaurant, grocery or convenience store, or even a gas station, we know that everyone will eventually be exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

As a mechanism for contact tracing, we will ask all guests to complete a Connect Card with contact information each week.

11. What would cause us to go back to online only?

Oak Ridge will continuously monitor our State and local COVID-19 status each week to ensure that our in-person services are able to be conducted safely considering trend data. These statistics are carefully monitored by the Executive Team in collaboration with the Advisory Board.

It is our plan to remain open, following all our safety protocols and procedures, unless directed by State or local authorities to cease in-person gatherings.

12. What happens if an attendee tests positive?

a. Considering the realities of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we expect this to occur.
b. Following Wicomico County Health Department guidelines, when someone notifies the church that they attended a service and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, we will notify attendees of that venue/service time using the contact information they provided on their Connect Card. The Health Department recommends that those individuals then get tested.
c. Additional deep-cleaning protocols will be followed.
d. Services will continue unless there is evidence of a widespread outbreak.
Every need in the world is an OPEN DOOR to share God's love. That's why, as a church family, we're responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, not by panicking or hiding out of fear, but by serving the people who are most vulnerable.

No matter how frustrating, confusing, or scary this crisis gets, fear doesn't have the final say. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Our hope is built on the perfect love of Jesus Christ, so we've been called to share that love with the world. And that's exactly what we'll be doing in the coming weeks and months as more and more people in our community are in need.

“Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it!”

Stay Healthy & Informed

In a crisis like this, it's common for misinformation to spread, and it can be difficult to figure out who and what to trust. Here are some reliable resources that can connect you with accurate and helpful info.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC is the leading national public-health organization in the U.S. and has up-to-date info on COVID-19 (coronavirus).

MD Department of Health
The MDH is the state department responsible for public health in Maryland.

World Health Organization (WHO)
WHO is the United Nations' agency for global public health.
Taking Care of Your Mental HealthUncertainty and confusion can have a harmful effect on your mental health. This article from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention gives you five ways to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty.