Come before Winter’s COVID-19 Procedures

As we navigate the ever-changing needs of people and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Come before Winter (CbW) is committed to doing our best to love our neighbors well. Each of us has had a different experience during the pandemic. Our personal and shared experiences, community responses, and individual/family needs and preferences have shaped our views and actions during this season.

As CbW created procedures for in-person gatherings, we recognized that the diversity of experiences, opinions, responses, and personal needs means that we would not be able to craft procedures that every person would agree with. However, we do not all have to agree in order to maintain loving relationships with one another and the communities we serve. This has been a core belief of Come before Winter from the very beginning. We believe that Christian unity is more important than proclaiming our opinion as “right.” This value has guided us in shaping what we believe is a set of procedures that will create a loving, hospitable environment for as many people as we can possibly serve. This renewal is intended to serve women from a variety of countries and regions, each of which has responded in different ways to the pandemic, so we seek to create a space that will feel inviting and welcoming to as many of those women as we can.

We know that some people will decide that these procedures are not for them—and that is OK. Come before Winter offers other opportunities that might better suit their spiritual needs at this time, with the hope and desire that, at some point in the near future, we will be able to gather again in person in a way that feels safe, welcoming, and filled with love for all.

In this current season, it is impossible to plan an in-person gathering that holds no risk of transmitting COVID-19. However, we are listening to the wisdom of our medical advisors and following the guidance of health authorities while doing our best to balance the risks associated with gathering in person and the spiritual, emotional, and mental health needs of our participants and team members. Our leadership has been prayerful about these procedures at every step and has reevaluated them periodically to ensure that they continue to meet our desire to create as safe and welcoming an environment as we can. Because COVID-19 guidelines are continually changing in response to an ever-evolving pandemic, there are certain procedures CbW knows in advance that we will follow even as others may be asked of participants closer to the renewal based on travel requirements or public health recommendations at the time of the renewal. We ask for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we strive to create a renewal that meets the needs of participants.

Vaccination
All participants must have received, at minimum, one complete course of COVID-19 vaccination at least two weeks before the start of the renewal.* Additional boosters are highly recommended for those eligible. Bivalent boosters, if available, are encouraged. Proof of vaccination will be required. Instructions for submitting that proof will be sent if/when an applicant is accepted for participation.

All CbW team members must have received, at a minimum, one complete course of COVID-19 vaccination and at least one booster. Additional boosters are highly recommended for those eligible.

“One complete course of vaccination” equates to one of the following (as of Oct. 18, 2022):

  1. Two doses of one of these vaccines:
    1. Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech)
    2. Spikevax (Moderna)
    3. Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)
    4. Covaxin
    5. Covishield
    6. BIBP/Sinopharm
    7. CoronaVac (Sinovac)
    8. Nuvaxovid (Novavax)
    9. Covovax
    10. Medicago
  2. One dose of these vaccines:
    1. Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
    2. Convidecia (CanSinoBIO)

* An applicant who has not been vaccinated may email Come before Winter at registrar@comebeforewinter.org with a request for exemption. These exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with input from our medical advisors.

Masks
Participants and team members are welcome to wear masks if they desire. The decision about whether we will require masks indoors for all attendees will be made closer to the renewal depending on the recommendations of our medical advisors, health authorities, and local ordinances at the time.

Testing
Come before Winter may ask participants to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival, depending on the guidance of health authorities and local ordinances. More information about testing requirements will be shared in advance of the renewal, if needed. If testing is required for your return travel, you will be responsible for coordinating that testing with as little disruption to your participation in the renewal as possible. The hotel or retreat center staff can help connect you with local testing resources. Once your application has been accepted, please let CbW know if you will require testing for your return flight and we will share resources that we know of with you so that you can make appropriate arrangements as well as help minimize disruption to the renewal schedule.

Ventilation
Come before Winter will work with our hotel or retreat center to ensure proper ventilation for indoor spaces and the use of as many outdoor spaces as possible. Some meetings and/or meals at the renewal may be held outdoors if space and weather allow.

Single-Occupancy Rooms
For a typical Come before Winter renewal, we reserve rooms with capacity for two to three participants per room. We do not ask participants to sleep on a top bunk or to share a bed smaller than a king. This means that there is a possibility you will be asked to share a king-sized bed with another participant. We offer you the opportunity to request a particular roommate and do our very best to accommodate each request. We have also reserved a few rooms that we can offer as single rooms. However, if you request and are given a single room, you will be asked to pay an additional fee ($60 per night, $240 total). These single rooms will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Please stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or another contagious illness (see cancellation policy for more information).
  • CbW will follow any local ordinances that may be in place and any COVID-related procedures that may be required by the conference facility, designed to protect the health and safety of staff and attendees.
  • If a participant develops symptoms during the event, that participant will be isolated immediately in the hotel until other arrangements can be made. It will be up to the participant and/or their family to make other arrangements for the remainder of their isolation (if required) either with the hotel or retreat center where the renewal is being held or in another nearby facility. Come before Winter is not responsible for any costs associated with quarantine requirements or transportation to another facility. We will offer support as possible.
  • Once an application is received and accepted, each applicant will be asked to confirm her willingness to follow these guidelines.

Heart change and inner renewal will surely have an impact on my relationships, attitude and the ministry I’d like to start…

Women’s renewal, Russia 2016