Recognizing the inconveniences of the current schedule for worship and the “assigning” of times, the church council evaluated how it has worked and also current health safety recommendations. As much as we would like to “loosen” a little, based on attendance patterns so far it seems wise to maintain the current plan through the summer, though we will look at it again at our July meeting. Thank you for patience and your love and concern for brothers and sisters in Christ and their health and peace of mind.
What follows is updated from our previous special May-June newsletter.
- Public services have resumed.
- Our short “First Friday” service will become an every Friday short service at 1:30 p.m.
- Following our practice at “First Friday” services, no hymns or music, and communion will be served in the pews.
- We will continue to offer video streaming of worship services on YouTube and Facebook.
- We will ensure proper distancing and sanitation to the best of our ability.
- Those who have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or flu should stay home.
- Those who are at high risk of serious illness are encouraged to stay home.
- Those who are uncomfortable attending services at this time are encouraged to stay home.
- You are welcome to wear a mask, but they are not required.
- Every third pew will be open to allow for social distancing.
- The number of members will be limited in each pew.
- High contact surfaces (like pews, railings, and door handles) will be disinfected after every service.
- A deeper cleaning will be done after each weekend.
- Hymnals and Care Cards will be removed from the pews.
- The service will be printed in the bulletin as usual, along with hymns.
- Service folders will be in the pews, not distributed by ushers. They will be discarded after one use, not reused.
- Boxes will be available by the entrances for offerings.
Before the Service
- Hand sanitizer will be available at the doors.
- There will be no hand shaking before the service.
- During the summer months, we will keep windows open for the sake of ventilation.
- Council members will be present in the narthex to guide people in these new procedures.
- We will offer the Sacrament of Holy Communion in each service, giving everyone the opportunity to partake when they attend.
- People will be ushered up on the lectern side first, then the pulpit side, so that we have only one line.
- We will introduce continuous distribution to help with distancing.
- Those who do not wish to commune or are not comfortable communing at this time will be free not to do so, with absolutely no stigma.
- Those who are distributing the Sacrament will clean their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer immediately before distribution.
- Communicants will receive the wafer in an open palm.
- The common cup will not be used for a time.
- Individual cups will be spaced out in the trays.
After the Service
- Pastors will not shake hands with people as they exit the sanctuary.
- Members are encouraged not to stay and socialize in the narthex. This is something that can be done more safely outside, if desired.
- Regular Bible studies and Sunday school classes will not resume at this time.
The Council discussed various options for reopening for public worship. They did so with the thought of the importance of gathering together and the safety of all. There will be no perfect plan. We need to show love and concern as we try to become “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). We do not want to put any stumbling blocks in people’s ways in coming back to church.
The Council decided to go with the following approach to our worship for the first few weeks we are open. The schedule will be as follows:
Thursdays: 6:00 PM — Those with last names A-M
Thursdays: 7:00 PM — Those with last names N-Z
Fridays: 1:30 PM — Open to anyone
Sundays: 8:00 AM — Those with last names A-G
9:00 AM — Those with last names H-M
10:00 AM — Those with last names N-S
11:00 AM — Those with last names T-Z
Each service will be about 30 minutes with a sermon, short liturgy, and communion. As circumstances and recommendations change, we will amend. Our plan is to limit our attendance to 100 per service for the time being. We also ask that attendees please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the service to allow for cleaning and set up after each service.