February 10, 2021
Returning to In-Person Worship
BEGINNING ASH WEDNESDAY AT NOON (OUTDOORS) & 7:00PM (INDOORS)
In March 2020 when the virus outbreak became a reality for us, we stopped in-person worship and have been blessed since with dedicated friends among us to help us worship “together” at a distance. We have even equipped our sanctuary with tools to do this more effectively.
In early October with positivity rates declining, we decided to return to in-person worship, while continuing to record and publish our worship online and providing Holy Communion in the parking lot for all who desired the sacrament.
When positivity rates began rising again in late December and into January, we ceased in-person worship once again for a period of time to see if the numbers would again decline after the Christmas/New Year celebrations were passed. We said that we would consider conditions after the first week of February and prior to Ash Wednesday before deciding our next steps.
At the present time [February 8], the positivity levels have been trending downward. While we are not yet at 5%, we have come down significantly from early January. We are at the levels we experienced in late November, early December 2020. Pr. Adam and I have received notification from 35 PoP friends who have received vaccines.
A survey of local and regional ELCA congregations tells us that congregations are taking a variety of approaches. While some continue to be worshipping totally online, there are at least as many or more who are utilizing a hybrid approach—online and in-person worship. Some are not opening their doors for any reasons. Other congregations are more active.
Your Council and staff leaders have prayed, pondered and expressed their thoughts about the current circumstances. We, mostly likely as with the congregation as a whole, have opinions that range from one pole to the other pole.
At this time we will begin to offer in-person worship, even as we continue our online offering for Sunday mornings.
Here is a list of guidelines for our coming together in this limited way. Let us encourage one another, as scripture teaches with love and care, so that we do what we are able to prevent any spread of the virus. While some of us are vaccinated, all of us need to continue to maintain precautions when we are together
- If you do not feel well—you know the list of symptoms—do NOT come to worship.
- We mask properly when we leave our vehicles to enter the sanctuary. Please make sure masks cover noses and mouths.
- We sit in the designated places only. At this time we do not have a limit to our seating. However, in the future we may need to set a limit.
- We do not talk among ourselves in the sanctuary. Save that conversation for outside after worship is over.
- We sit for all songs and may sing softly to ourselves [and our Lord.]
- We exchange the peace from our seats as our eyes make contact with brothers and sisters.
- We receive the bread of Holy Communion and return to our seats to consume it.
- At the end of worship, we depart the building maintaining an appropriate distance and BEGIN our conversations when we are outside the building.
We will announce further plans for our Ash Wednesday worship in a later publication. Let us continue in prayer for one another and the community around us.