Covid-19 Worship Letter and Guidelines

Church Family,

 

It has been ten Sundays since we last all worshiped together in person.  As your pastor, I personally have missed seeing all of you.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will be returning to normal anytime soon.  The Covid-19 crisis is still a present danger to many people’s health.  We recognize that there are a variety of views about this crisis we face as a nation.  Some want to continue to shelter in place.  Others are ready to cautiously begin to reopen.  Still others want everything to return back to the way things were in February.  It doesn’t matter if you fall into one of these categories or somewhere in between, it is our prayer as pastor and consistory that we can find ways to minster to everyone in our congregation through this crisis and extend love and grace to each other.  The risks for many in our church family are still great; therefore as pastor and consistory we are committed to continuing to broadcast our service on KQAD and Facebook live.  After consulting with the county sheriff and healthcare professional, the consistory has decided that we will be starting to hold worship in our building again.  There is risk for all of us, but for some the risk is much greater than for others.  We want to make sure that people understand that no one is required to come and you do not need to feel guilty if you choose that it is better for you to stay home and stay safe.

 

In addition, anyone showing any symptoms of illness, or anyone who has a household member who is sick or showing symptoms of illness should not attend; this includes the pastor.  If you feel you have been exposed, been somewhere that you might have been exposed to covid-19, or are currently waiting test results, we are asking you to refrain from attending worship in person out of love and concern for others who will be attending worship that week.  If the consistory becomes aware of a clear, immediate, or imminent threat to the safety of the attendees or determines that the following protocols cannot be observed, the gathering will be cancelled until the protocols can be observed.  We are also hoping that over the course of the summer, we will be able to hold outdoor worship services, weather permitting.  We believe that outdoor worship with social distancing measures would allow more people to attend whether that is sitting in their cars listening or bringing a lawn chair.

 

Pastor Jeremy and the Consistory of the Reformed Church of Steen

The consistory and the pastor understand that the following guidelines will not allow everyone to participate with a physical presence in our church building.  Yet, we also want to provide an opportunity for some of our church family to worship in person-- understanding the health risks involved.  We ask that these guidelines for worship during the Covid-19 crisis be followed out of love and respect for the worshipers around you.

 

Drive-up / outdoor worship:

  1. People will be encouraged to maintain social distance between families when outside of their vehicles.
  2. The service will still be broadcast live on the radio and Facebook.

 

Indoor worship:

  1. The space will be thoroughly sanitized before and after each service, including all entryways and doors. Hand sanitizer will be available at all entryways.  We will limit entry and exit to two doors per portion of the building.
  2. People are encouraged to bring and wear their own protective wear.
  3. Doors will be propped open and one-way traffic patterns will be introduced to ensure social distancing. Consistory members will assist to help maintain physical distancing.  We will fill the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and family life center from back to front.  When worship has concluded, people will be ushered out in reverse order while maintaining social distancing.
  4. People will enter and exit the sanctuary from front doors on the east and west side. They will be propped open when you arrive.
  5. The fellowship hall use the south facing doors on the east and west side of the building.
  6. The family life center will use the east and west facing doors in that part of the building.
  7. Please do not congregate by the doors.  Enter quickly and orderly and take your seat.
  8. Please do not greet each other with touching, such as handshakes, hugs or kisses.
  9. Collection plates and other items will not be passed. There will be a box by each entry point for people to give their offerings.  You may also continue to send them to the church or make deposits at the bank.
  10. All Bibles have been removed from the pews. People are encouraged to bring their own Bibles.
  11. There will be no congregational singing during the service. The hymn books have been removed from the pews.  We will project the song lyrics so people can sing along in their heads and their hearts.
  12. There will be a children’s message, but we are asking children to remain by their parents and not to come forward for the message.
  13. Doors between parts of the building will remain closed and traffic flow between them will be strongly discouraged.
  14. The nursery will remain closed.
  15. Restrooms will be for emergency use only and will require cleaning after use. Please use the restroom in your home before coming to greatly reduce the instances of emergencies.
  16. There will be no coffee time or fellowship following the service. People will be released from their seats by a consistory member to maintain social distancing and we are asking people to exit the building immediately and not congregate by the doors.
  17. Following the six foot social distancing guidelines will allow us to seat up to 150 people in the sanctuary, 50 in the fellowship hall, and an additional 100 in the family life center if necessary. We will fill the sanctuary and fellowship hall first each week.  We are also willing to offer more services each Sunday, if necessary.