Our Church Council met yesterday and voted to reopen St. Paul’s for public worship services this weekend – June 4+7. The Council also approved a recommended list of measures presented by our “Re-open Church Team” that we will be taking so that worshipers will be kept as safe as possible during these times.
While many are eager and excited to return to worship, we want to do this in a way that honors the gifts of God’s Word and Sacrament that come to us in worship (3rd Commandment), the advice and guidelines given by those in authority over us (4th Commandment), and the safety, physical well-being and concerns of those who will be worshipping with us (5th Commandment). We believe the following procedures and guidelines aim at these goals as we make the transition.
- We will offer these service times: Thursday at 6:30 pm and Sunday at 8:00 and 10:00 am.
- Our Thursday evening service will be recorded and available to watch online on Sunday morning.
- We are limiting attendance to 50 worshipers per service to allow proper distancing.
- To ensure we maintain no more than 50 worshipers at a service, we are requesting that people sign up in advance. There are 2 ways to sign up:
- Call the church office (744-9988), between 8:00 am and Noon, Monday through Thursday and have Sandy add your name to the list.
- Those who have any symptoms of illness should stay home.
- Those who are at high risk are encouraged to stay home.
- Those who are uncomfortable attending services at this time are encouraged to stay home.
- Everyone is encouraged (but not required) to wear a mask.
- Everyone should practice distancing and good hygiene.
- High contact surfaces (pews and door handles) will be cleaned after each service.
- A deeper cleaning will be done after each weekend of worship
- Bathrooms on the main and lower levels are available. If a child needs to use the restroom, an adult must accompany them.
- Service folders will be placed in the pews where worshipers will be sitting. They will not be reused. You can either take it home or toss it in a receptacle as you are ushered out of the church.
Entering the Church
- The doors will be propped open to minimize contact.
- Hand sanitizer will be available at each of the doors as you enter the church.
- Masks are available in the church entryway if you didn’t bring your own.
- Members are asked to walk into the church and continue into the sanctuary to be seated at the direction of the usher.
- Ushers will be present in the church entryway to offer assistance.
Seating in the Sanctuary
- Certain rows of pews will be closed, ensuring 6-foot distancing between members.
- You will be seated at the direction of the ushers starting at the front and moving back. (You may not get your favorite spot ☺.)
- Households are encouraged to sit in the same pew.
- Those not of the same household may share a pew with someone else as long as there is 6-feet in between.
Receiving the Lord’s Supper
- The elements of the Lord’s Supper (bread and wine) have been placed in a plastic bag and can be found in the pew in front of where you are seated.
- During the communion portion of the service, worshippers remain in the pews and participate in Christ’s body and blood at the pastor’s direction.
- Place the empty communion containers in the plastic bag and leave it where you found it. It will be picked up after the service.
- The Lord’s Supper will be offered at every service in the month of June.
Leaving the Sanctuary
- You will be ushered out at the direction of the ushers moving from the back pews to front pews.
- Offering bags will not be passed during the service. Baskets have been placed in the back row of pews for your offerings as you exit.
- We want you to visit, but please use the sidewalk and grass areas around the church as you leave the church and front porch deck to allow our cleaning crews to start cleaning.
- Pastor will greet people outside of the church (wearing a mask), but won’t be shaking hands.
We recognize that some might think we should have opened earlier; while others may feel we should still wait. Some may want everyone to wear masks; while others don’t see the need. Regardless of which side you might fall on, may God give us the patience and love, the faith and wisdom to be respectful of each other’s opinions. We wouldn’t want to give the devil any opportunity to destroy the unity of our faith in our Savior.
St. Paul’s leadership will monitor the services and preventive measures we’re putting into place. Some adjustments may be necessary along the way. We thank you for your cooperation in understanding the need to put these measures into place as we reopen our church and gather for worship. We pray that the Lord will bless our efforts to meet in person again and that he will keep every member and guest of our congregation safe.
St. Paul’s Coordinating Church Council and Pastor Marshall