Reopening for Gathered Worship on June 21, 2020
To view and print the seating layout for gathered worship please click below.
Pastor Eric's Letter to the Congregation: June 14, 2020
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Ps 122:1
Perhaps never in our lives have those words had such deep resonance! Our hope is to join once again for gathered worship beginning on June 21st. Our “Reopening Task Force” has met and come up with a set of protocols and plans that has been presented to and approved by the elders and deacons. These protocols have been prepared with the safety and protection of our church and community in mind. The gathered worship we will have on Sunday mornings will be accompanied by an online livestream for those who are not comfortable in a large meeting. If you are uncomfortable attending in person, we encourage you to participate in worship online with our blessing. If you are elderly, sick, or have compromised health we encourage you to be cautious and worship with us online for your own safety. If you are unable or unwilling to comply with the protocols for safety described for in-person worship, you are kindly asked to participate online.
We realize that for some, this may seem too soon and for others, it will not be soon enough. We are aware of differences in circumstances and approach to this virus. We have tried to be careful and create opportunities for worship that allow for gathering but respect differences. We urge all of us to respect the decisions that others make with understanding and without judgment. May we make it our aim to bear with one another in love, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:2-3). We may worship in different services, but we remain one body (Eph 4:4).
In preparing these protocols the Task Force has gathered information from the CDC, government leaders – national and state, medical professionals, other churches, and specialized groups focusing on the reopening of churches. The elders and deacons are particularly thankful for the work that went into developing these protocols.
Please read and review them carefully. Feel free to contact elders or deacons if you have any questions about them. In a few days you will receive a survey by email to see which service you believe best suits you and your family. Please respond to that promptly so that we can plan accordingly.
Please abide by the following safety protocols if you plan to participate in Sunday morning worship in the sanctuary:
- We will be having 2 services – 9:00am and 11:00am. Social distancing will be required for both services (please refrain from shaking hands, hugging, etc.). Members will be asked to sign up online with headcount so we can limit attendance to allow for social distancing. Families can sit together and will be seated so that everyone is at least 6 feet from a non-family member, as shown in the attached diagram. The capacity of the sanctuary will depend on the number of people in each family unit, but 26 units can be accommodated using the layout in the diagram. Portions of pews will be blocked off clearly so that people know where they may and may not sit. We believe that there is an additional pew at the back of each row that is not accounted for in the diagram, but we need to leave room for visitors and people who arrive without signing up. Only 1 side of each pew will be used with larger families using the large left-side section and couples/singles using the middle section. The small right-side section will be a blend
- Masks will be required at all times for the 9:00am service. For the 11:00am service, masks will be required on entry and exit from the building and when moving about the sanctuary but not while sitting in the pews. Masks should be brought from home, but disposable masks will be available if needed. Children ≤2-years old should not wear masks and are welcome at either service.
- Small children need to be kept with their parents at all times while in the building so as to maintain social distancing. We understand this may be challenging especially for those children who are used to running around and playing together after the service. Parents will need to leave the sanctuary immediately after the service if their children are not able to stay with them at all times. Parents with very fussy children during the service can exit by the fastest route and do not need to follow normal flow.
- Speakers at the pulpit will not be required to wear a mask or stand behind Plexiglas at either service but the pulpit will be moved 5 feet further back from its normal position. All the return ducts in the sanctuary are at the sides of the platform, in front of the new pulpit position, so the speakers’ respiratory droplets should not be reaching the pews.
- Bulletins will be emailed for printing at home and available in the sanctuary and will include everything needed for worship so that pew bibles and hymnals can be removed - basic protocols will also be printed in the bulletin for reference.
- Flow - the only entrance into the sanctuary will be through the main lobby on the corner of 4th and Fayette; this door will not be used for exiting except in an emergency. The exception is that wheelchairs can still use the ramp and double doors by the side yard for entrance. When someone in a wheelchair is entering or leaving the building, the deacons will clear a path for them to their seat. After the service, you can exit through any of the other sanctuary doors leading to the exterior. The only entrance to the annex is through the sacristy. From the annex you can re-enter the sanctuary through the narrow hallway by the old nursery or by exiting the 4th street doors and re-entering through the main lobby (See diagram attached). The 4th street doors to the annex will be locked, so people will be able to exit from those doors, but not enter the building.
- Initially, there will be no singing, no nursery, and no passing of the offering plate. An offering box will be located at the back of the sanctuary for those who want to give an offering on their way into the service. Online giving also continues to be available.
- Use of the annex will be limited to using the bathrooms.
- Please abide by all posted signage including: directional arrows on the floor, “Practice Social Distancing”, “Exit Only”, “Entrance Only”, etc.
- Greeters will be outside (weather permitting) or in the back of the church. Deacons will also be available to remind members and instruct visitors on the new procedures, answer questions, and help with seating.
- There will be hand sanitizer available in multiple locations and everyone will be asked to use hand sanitizer as they enter the building. The sanctuary and bathrooms will be sanitized between worship services.
- Communion – we will use prepackaged disposable communion packs. The elements will be placed on one or more tables at the front of the sanctuary before the service, spaced far enough apart so that people will only touch the cups they are picking up and not those around them. After the introduction of the Supper and prayer, participants will be invited either to come up to the appropriate table, or to have a family member go and get the elements for the rest of the family.
- If you attend a service and later in the week exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 please notify anyone you feel you had more than passing contact with during the previous 14 days. If you test positive for COVID-19 please notify Rebecca. In either case, please do not return to church until cleared by a physician.
Brothers and sisters, we feel confident about moving forward with these plans. We will continue to stay aware of how Covid-19 is impacting our community. We will adjust as needed for the health and safety of our congregation and community.
As many have noted, this is a complicated situation and we realize that there will be a variety of opinions regarding how best to proceed. We have sought the Lord in prayer and been governed by principles we find in the Word.
- We are called to love, and love seeks the welfare of others and does not insist on its own way. John 15:12-17; 1 Cor 13
- We are called to prudence and wisdom. Prov. 3:13; 13:16; 27:12
- We are called not to be overcome with fear regardless of the decision we each make. Phil 4:6-7; Ps 46
- We are called to respect and obey governing authorities. Rom 13:1-7
- We are called to worship and gather for worship. Ps 122; Heb 10:24-25; Acts 2:42-47
- In areas where convictions are different in areas of practice with the community of faith, we are called to understanding, peace, and mutual upbuilding. Rom 14
May the Lord be with you and bless you. God willing, we will see you soon.
Yours in service to our King,
Pastor Eric Huber on behalf of the elders and deacons