The Phased Re-Opening Planning Team is excited to announce we will be resuming in-person worship in Messiah’s sanctuary beginning Sunday, June 28th.This letter is to help you understand and prepare for what in-person worship will look like as we continue to increase in-person activities at Messiah Lutheran. Worship will look different than it did the last time we worshiped together. We have been consulting with CDC Guidelines and Resuming Care-Filled Worship and Sacramental Life During a Pandemic, a booklet published by an ecumenical consultation around worship in this time, including representatives from the ELCA. Based on recent evidence about how the coronavirus moves through the air and the ventilation in our sanctuary, please be respectful of the guidelines outlined in this letter as COVID-19 is still present in our community. This current moment is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory, if ever, and the situation is constantly evolving. We will continue to reevaluate these protocols as the evidence and best practices evolve. These changes are temporary.
- If you or someone in your household are ill or have been recently ill, please stay home and join us online.
- Cloth face coverings or surgical masks are required.
- Social distancing is required.
- Worship will be shortened to approximately 30 minutes.
- Music will be instrumental only
- We will not have in-person communion at this time. We hope to begin this soon.
- Sharing the Peace will be without contact.
- Please do not arrive before 8:45 am (15 minutes before worship begins).
- Enter through fellowship hall doors.
- An usher will help you find a seat based upon your family size.
- Please reserve bathroom use for emergencies.
- Following worship, please wait to be dismissed by the usher.
- Do not congregate near the doors of the building.
- Worship will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
- Fellowship Hour and Communion will continue on Zoom, beginning at 10 am.
- Zoom Bible Study will begin at 11 am.
Please arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before the start of worship at 9:00 a.m. When you arrive, you will notice everyone entering through the Fellowship Hall doors and proceeding through the Fellowship Hall to the Sanctuary using the hallway that connects the two areas. Along the route you will notice markers to note safe social distancing. We ask that you do not congregate around the entrances and exits to the church. We are all excited to see each other again and we understand that, while outside, you may want to chat with fellow worshippers. We ask that if you do, you do so at a distance away from the church entrances.
Upon entering the sanctuary, ushers will help you find a seat. Our sanctuary has been set up to accommodate different sized family groups to sit together while practicing social distancing from other worshipers. It is important to understand the sanctuary will have open pews where no one will be able to sit (see the included seating chart). This is so we can practice at least 6 feet distance between worshipers. Bulletins will be placed on the pews to mark the area where you and your family will be able to sit. We will not be handing you a bulletin as we have in the past, but we will have some large-print copies available if you need one. At the end of worship, we ask that you either take your bulletin with you or leave it in the pew for the church to recycle.
Worship will have a shortened format lasting around 30 minutes. Worship will continue to focus on the historic four parts of worship: Gathering, Word, Thanksgiving, and Sending. Professional choral organizations strongly discourage singing in, or around, large groups indoors. For now, we will refrain from singing together and music will be played on the organ. At this time communion will not take place in-person, but please know we are working to find a safe way to carry out communion and anticipate communion to be added to our worship in a timely fashion. Please join us on Zoom at 10 am to celebrate communion remotely.
Several safety procedures have been put in place for the health and safety of everyone. The offering plates will be located at the entrance and exit to the sanctuary. Hand sanitizing stations will be located at various spots, please sanitize your hands upon entering the building. Masks are required for the safety of all in our church and beyond. As Kendra Aucker, President and CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital, says, “Your mask helps protect others and their mask helps protect you… You can be carrying and transmitting COVID-19 before you feel any symptoms. Your mask protects us all.” We understand children under the age of 2 and persons with certain breathing conditions may not be able to wear a mask and do not expect them to do so.
In closing, the Phased Re-Opening Team will continue to meet regularly to assess our in-person worship practices and make modifications as the conditions change. There are many reasons why you may choose not to attend worship in-person at this time. We understand this and will host a live-stream of the worship service on Facebook and YouTube. If you have any questions, we ask that you reach out to any of the Team members listed below.
The Phased Re-Opening Planning Team Philip Heggenstaller, Janine Fee, Nathan Williard, Tom Milbrand, Chris Hauck, Kaylin Foss, and Pastor Chilton