IMPORTANT NOTE: No services this Sunday, March 15th, due to COVID-19. Check out the digital service here ->


Your guide to the re-opening of Emergence Church facilities and gatherings after COVID-19

JUNE 19, 2020


May 23, 2020

2020 has been unlike anything we've ever experienced. It took hard decisions from all of us that we've never needed to make before. Getting to a "new normal" and reopening the church will also take some getting used to. While we don't know exactly when each of these phases will begin or end, what we have laid out here is the how. See below for the descriptions of each of our re-opening phases. You'll also find an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions following the descriptions.



  • Begin on June 28th in Ringwood and Glen Rock
    (Roxbury cannot host because of school policies where we usually meet, and Totowa cannot host because of safety and cleaning procedures as we host Summer Sessions there)
  • 10am Sundays
  • Limited to 45 people in attendance
  • Registration required to attend (see below)
  • Masks required inside building at all times by attenders
  • Social distancing guidelines adhered to
  • Temperature checks at door
  • No cafe or kids ministry
  • Families with children younger than middle school should not attend at this stage


  • Begin on July 13 on Mondays and Wednesdays in Totowa
  • Will stream live on Facebook and YouTube
  • 7:30pm
  • Limited to 45 people in attendance
  • Registration required to attend (see below)
  • Masks required inside building at all times by attenders
  • Social distancing guidelines adhered to
  • Temperature checks at door
  • Attendance limited to high school or older


  • Sunday Services continue online unchanged
  • Daily Devotions continue unchanged Monday-Friday
  • Mental Health Monday, Theology Thursday, Free-for-All Friday and Saturday Pray move to rotation once a month (one released each week)
  • Redemption & Recovery continues unchanged

The Phases of Reopening


We all have to start somewhere.

This is how we have been operating since the start of the COVID crisis. All campuses are closed. All services are online. All events are postponed/canceled. We have to start somewhere.


Restarting in community.

When groups of around ten are given the green light, we'll encourage smaller communities to start meeting together, while practicing distancing measures. All campuses are still closed, and all services are still online. For some, opening their home for a Sunday "watch party" will be a great way to enjoy one another on a smaller scale.



Easing into gathering.

When groups of around fifty are permitted, we'll open our facilities for limited events (like Summer Sessions, etc). We'll also begin our first Watch & Worship Gatherings at satellite campuses (Glen Rock & Ringwood).


Turning the corner.

When we reach permitted groups of around one hundred (keep in mind, these may be limited by capacity percentage as well), satellite campuses will largely be open. Totowa will begin services for the first time, but on an extremely limited basis. Most events can begin to happen, but must still follow distancing guidelines.


New normal.

We will get back to fully-opened campuses at this point. eTown will begin to resume on Sundays, and all support ministries will also function. We will provide both live and online services moving forward, as we realize that people will not all return at once.


We all have questions. We’re asking ourselves new ones every day. If you think of any that aren’t asked here, please submit it to us using the form below.

What phase are we currently in?

As of Friday, June 19, 2020, we are now in Phase One of "Re-Emergence". That means that groups of 50 or less can meet for Watch & Worship Gatherings at a couple of our campuses and that we can offer new programming, such as Summer Sessions in person and online.  

What are the anticipated durations for each phase?

What is listed above, again, is the how. The when for these phases will be subject to guidance from state and local officials, taking into account counsel from our Elder Board as well.

Is there a plan for cleaning and sanitizing?

In addition to the normal weekly cleaning and sanitizing done by both our team and an outside cleaning company, new cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be put into place throughout our facilities as we open. Some of these changes were implemented even prior to closing due to the crisis (touchless check-in stations, regular wiping of surfaces, team members holding doors, etc).

Aren't we obligated in Scripture to gather, in spite of government recommendations? 

We absolutely should gather, and we have not stopped gathering in many different forms throughout the pandemic. For a more robust and thoughtful answer to this question, check out Pastor Doug Becker's response, "On Reopening"

I usually attend _______ Campus. Can I attend a Watch & Worship Gathering at another campus?

We would like to allow for people to connect with others at their usual campuses during this phase. Therefore, we ask that you leave the registration spots open to people who typically attend that campus 

Since the cafe isn't open for Watch & Worship Gatherings, can I bring my own water/coffee?

Absolutely! Just make sure you bring it in your own reusable container, or a disposable one you can throw away in a garbage can at the campus. 

Are masks required at all times during the Watch & Worship Gatherings or Sumer Sessions?

Yes. Anytime you are in an Emergence facility, you will need to wear a mask for the time being. The only exception are the people hosting from the platform during the moments they are presenting.

During which phase can we hold ministry team meetings or training?

At this point, smaller teams can gather offsite. We also encourage teams to continue to utilize all digital tools available for meetings, even as we open.

Given that there aren't any timeframes yet for each phase, what are realistic expectations for kids and student ministries during the summer?

While there may be unique ways for these ministries to facilitate programming during reduced operation (as they have and will continue to do!), full student and kids ministries will not be operating until Phase Four.

Will there be a traditional Vacation Bible School this year?

Unfortunately, no. Given our current situation, VBS will not be able to occur in its traditional form. We may hold a special kids/family event later in the summer as phasing permits.

Why aren't there dates tied to these phases?

This crisis is in constant flux, with many factors contributing to timing. The situation changes daily, as do concerns and needs. The start of this crisis was out of our control, and the end of it largely is as well.

Why are the satellite campuses opening before Totowa?

Given the sizes of permitted groups, we have to be wise about how we go about opening. The Totowa Campus, with several services typically totaling 400–500 people, will be much harder to manage as it relates to group size limitations. As we open the campuses, we will devote as many resources as possible to making sure we are learning how to facilitate larger groups, once we move to Phase Four.

If I attend the Totowa campus, can I check out a satellite campus in Phase Two or Three?

We ask that you hold off from attending a different campus than you typically do as we re-open in phases. We want to give the satellite campuses the opportunity to connect with those in their normal church community, which will not be possible if they are overwhelmed due to a migration of attendance. An RSVP system will likely be in place during initial openings in order to prevent over-crowding (see below), and we want to make sure that our people at each campus are re-connecting with the people in their own campus families.

Will Kids and Student ministries be open at the satellite campuses in Phase Two and Three?

Kids Ministry and Sunday morning Student Ministry will not be open at satellite campuses during Phases One and Two. There are two main reasons for this: Safety (kids are not able to reasonably practice social distancing) and comfort (our team members would likely need to wear masks, and this would make the experience less comfortable for the children).When we reach Phase Four, eTown and Student Ministries will resume normal function.

Will I be able to bring my children into service with me during Phase One or Two?

We ask that families with young children who are not content to sit by themselves and remain still during services refrain from attending services until Phase Four, when eTown and Student Ministries begin.

Will there be seating with distancing for services?

We will arrange seating in patterns that take into account distancing measures, and we will ask for distancing follow the general rule, "Live together, sit together."

Will the Roxbury and Glen Rock campuses be able to meet at their normal locationsl?

The reality is that both Roxbury and Glen Rock are rented facilities, and therefore have to follow the direction and decisions of the owners of our buildings in providing spaces to meet. Currently, Community Church of Glen Rock let us know we are good to begin meeting as long as within government guidelines. We are waiting to get direction from Eisenhower about when we would be able to begin meeting.

I'm not part of a community group. Can I sign up for one now?

Absolutely! Our communities are always open for inquiries from people looking to plug in. You can check out the available groups here.

Will community groups continue meeting in the summer?

Our community groups typically take a break during the summer months. During that break, however, we do provide other ways to connect with others and continue to grow, like in our Summer Sessions.

Will I get turned away if the building hits the maximum limit of attendees?

In order to ensure the safety of all of those who are attending services, we will have to follow size guidelines for gatherings. We are working on a system of reservation to ensure that those who want to attend a service can be assured that they will be permitted to enter, so as to limit the sad surprise of being turned away.

Will I need to RSVP to attend Sunday service or other events?

In cases where we anticipate that higher attendance than what is permitted, you will most likely need to RSVP in some form to ensure that you will be permitted to enter.

Will we be allowed to shake hands and hug? 

We will be encouraging the practice of suggested social distancing procedures and guidelines during all of our activities. Until further notice, this means that hugging and shaking hands will be discouraged.

When is the next baptism service?

Our original date for baptism was May 3rd. At this time, we do not have a rescheduled date, but we are hoping to hold one as soon as we're all able to gather again in Phase Four.

How can I get plugged in during each phase?

If you stay in the know through our communications on the weekend as well as our other resources throughout the week, you'll be pretty aware of steps you can take to engage in each phase of reopening.

Will Emergence continue to share digital content in Phase Four?

Yes! In addition to continuing some of the regular content we began creating during this crisis, we will also continue live streaming our worship services every Sunday from Totowa, even after we enter into Phase Four.

Will daily devotionals, Mental Health Monday, R&R, Worship Wednesday, Theology Thursday, Free for All Friday, and Saturday Pray continue?

We recognize that these resources have been a great blessing for many during this crisis, and are so grateful to God for that! We will continue to offer some of these resources and other content as well, though we do not yet have specifics on which of these will continue.

What’s the plan for shared food and drinks as we start to gather (cafe team, volunteer central food, community group and snacks, communion as a church)?

Most likely, until at least Phase Four, we will not be serving coffee in the cafe on Sunday. Also, for those campuses with Volunteer Central, we will not be distributing food. As we are able to implement procedures better ensuring safety for these things, we will begin to return to these activities. We will also look into options for communion procedures that take into account these concerns.

With services limited to fifty people, will there be more services offered?

At this point, we do not plan on increasing the number of gatherings during the reopening phases. Please keep in mind that we will be encouraging watch parties in homes and our digital service will continue to be available.

Will masks be required to enter facilities during initial phases? All phases?

We will follow all suggested gathering guidelines as established by state and local authorities. Outside of that, it will left to the discretion of individuals.

What does "with distancing" mean?

Social distancing has come to be defined as people being at least six feet apart, with no physical contact being made, and in certain specific contexts masks being worn as well. We will make clear the expectation for masks as we get to each individual phase.

What is the plan for communities with more than ten people during Phase One?

Most likely, the direction given by the state will call for gatherings to be limited to ten people. For groups that anticipate a larger attendance, there will be specific instruction delivered to the group leaders and passed on to the group members.

What about those who are more medically vulnerable?

For those aware that they are more medically vulnerable, we would ask that they make use of the digital services and content available to them until such a time as they are not in increased danger.

Is there any chance of doing extra “watch party” services at the different campuses on Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoons?

At this time, we are not planning to open up the facilities for smaller watch parties, as we want to do all we can to ensure that the facilities are adequately cleaned and sanitized for the regular events that will need to occur.

We do movie nights at our park/ballfield. Can I host an Emergence night in my neighborhood?

That sounds like a pretty rad watch party to us!

Is there any chance that we may regress in phases?

Yes. Given the ever-changing nature of all of this, that could absolutely happen. We will communicate on a regular basis where we stand as it relates to phasing.

Is Emergence organizing watch parties?

Watch parties will be an organic thing. We anticipate that many community groups will choose to host watch parties during part of the re-opening process, or maybe a group of friends or neighbors. These will not be organized by Emergence, but we're happy to help in any way we can.

Can these plans change? 

Of course. We're all learning as we go, and this is fully uncharted water. We are so grateful for the patience and grace our whole community has exhibited through this, and we can't wait to see you all as soon as we are able.