June 1, 2020 Update from Pastor Huff
Dear Faith Family…
On Sunday, March 29, the leadership at Faith made the hard decision to suspended in-person worship to protect individuals at risk for COVID-19 and to share in sacrifices being made by individuals, businesses, and groups in our community to “flatten the curve” and not overwhelm hospital capacity. As we prepare to re-open the sanctuary for in-person worship, we will continue to honor those principles.
Both the Board of Elders and Church Council at their May meetings considered infection rates as well as information provided by various health organizations in order to evaluate the possibility of resuming in-person worship. Based on the facts that infection rates are considerably lower and declining in our state; that our hospital capacity is maintained; and that we now better understand COVID-19, how it spreads, and what can be done to protect one another, the Elders have approved conducting modified in-person services at Faith Lutheran again, starting on Sunday, June 7. We will continue to live-stream the services for those who should not or choose not to attend at this time. To access all streamed services (live or archived), copy and paste the following link in your web browser (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0MZAUVeLZ3HSw8RgBrJFvA).
To help prepare you to return to in-person worship, we've compiled the following Q&A for your use.
Frequently Asked Questions - Reopening Faith Lutheran Church Sanctuary
Q: When will Faith have in-person worship again?
A: Beginning Sunday, June 7.
Q: Should everyone attend?
A: No. These people especially should worship from home, if possible:
1) If you have symptoms of illness, like fever, cough, or sneezing;
2) If you are 65 or older with underlying health conditions;
3) If you have health conditions that make you more susceptible to illness; or
4) If you are not yet comfortable being out in a crowd.
Q: Which services will be offered?
A: All three regular services: 8:15a.m. and 10a.m. on Sunday mornings, and 7:00 p.m. on Monday evenings (Note: Monday evening worship will not resume until Monday, June 15).
Q: When I arrive at church, where will I enter the building?
A: You will only be permitted to enter the building from the 10th Avenue doors, under the drive-up canopy.
Q: Will there be “physical distance” for worshippers?
A: Yes, pews will be marked with colors to indicate where seating is permitted (blue at 8:15am, green at 10am).
Q: How will I know where to sit?
A: When you arrive at church, ushers will direct you to a pew. (Note: only people who arrive in the same vehicle may sit together in the same pew area.) Everyone will be led into the sanctuary via the sanctuary doors just opposite the church office.
Q: How many people will be permitted in the sanctuary at each service?
A: No more than half our sanctuary’s capacity at one service.
Q: What if more than that many people arrive?
A: Overflow seating will be available, if needed, in the Friendship Room and balcony.
Q: What other steps are being taken to protect those who gather?
A: There are several important changes, including:
1) A greeter will open the exterior door for you as you enter the building.
2) Interior doors will be propped open before and after services and all door handles will be
sanitized before and after each service.
3) Hand-sanitizer will be available outside the sanctuary doors.
4) The screens will display all hymn / song lyrics and the liturgy as all hymnals have been removed the sanctuary.
5) Bulletins will be given to you by an Elder or usher. These are to be taken home by the worshipper after the service, or discarded in the trash, and not reused.
6) Attendance slips will be in your worship bulletin. You can return them to the offering box after service that will be outside the sanctuary door.
7) Offerings will not be collected during the service. The offering box will be outside the sanctuary doors for your use either before or after service.
8) Pews will be sanitized between Sunday services.
9) We will not have a special time in the service for greeting / Sharing of the Peace.
10) When service ends, ushers will dismiss worshippers to avoid crowding.
11) During the children’s message, children will stay with their families.
Q: Can I wear a mask?
A: Yes. It is not required, but you are welcome to do so.
Q: Will there be Sunday School and Bible Classes?
A: No. As we are now on the summer schedule, Sunday School and Bible Classes will not resume until after Labor Day.
Q: Will the nursery be available for us?
A: At this time, no.
Q: Will we be serving Holy Communion?
A: Yes. However, to respect physical distancing and avoid crowding, Pastor Huff and a communion assistant will bring communion to you in the pew. In addition, the following steps will be taken for sanitization:
1) The individuals preparing Communion will vigorously wash their hands before handling the vessels and elements and wear a mask.
2) Pastor will consecrate and distribute the elements while wearing a mask. He will also sanitize his hands beforehand.
3) Communion assistants will wear a mask and wash their hands for distribution.
4) The host will be dropped (not placed) into the open hands of the communicant.
5) Individual cups will be grasped at the top by the Communion assistant. Communicants are to grab the cup at the bottom. The common cup will not be used at this time.
6) Someone will collect the individual cups from you after you’ve communed.
7) Any individuals in the Friendship Room and balcony areas will likewise be communed in their seats.
8) The blessing will be provided to all communicants at the end of Communion.
9) The blessing of children will be done without touching them.
Q: How long will these changes be in place?
A: We will review them and change them when it seems safe to do so.
Q: Will people be upset with me if I choose to worship from home for now?
A: We will not. We trust people to make the decision that best suits them now. That is why the live- streaming will continue.
While we believe it is now acceptable to resume in-person worship, none of us should understand re-opening the sanctuary as an indication that we believe there is now no longer any risk. Being in any public place continues to present a certain level of risk for contracting the COVID-19 Coronavirus. So, please understand that while we are taking these steps to minimize risk, it is impossible for us to eliminate it.
Thank you for taking time to review these questions and answers. Please continue to pray for
your leaders and fellow members during this time. If you have questions not addressed
above, feel free to call your Elder, the church office at 810-985-5733, or email Pastor Huff at email@example.com.