COVID-19 Guidelines

COVID-19 Guidelines

July 1, 2021

Current Procedures

  • Masks are now optional for individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at all worship services and church functions. Unvaccinated individuals are asked to continue to wear a mask or face covering for the protection and peace of mind of other unvaccinated and vulnerable people.
  • We realize that people are in different places regarding pandemic precautions. We seek to provide options for those who are still vulnerable and therefore taking more precautions as well as for those who are less vulnerable and more comfortable with fewer restrictions.
  • Each weekend, one of the two services will be more cautious. At this service, the congregation will not sing hymns or liturgy, as singing is still thought to aerosolize more respiratory droplets.
  • At the other service, the congregation will be invited to sing This service is intended to be less restrictive for those who are less vulnerable.
  • These two services will alternate between Saturday and Sunday each weekend.
  • For all services, one side of the sanctuary has every other pew closed for those who need to practice social distancing. The other side will provide for open seating.
  • For all services, distribution of Holy Communion now follows our normal pre-pandemic procedure of communing small groups together at the altar rail. At this time, the blood of Christ is only served in individual cups. If you prefer to maintain social distancing when communing, please approach the altar individually after all other groups have communed.
  • These measures are temporary. We will continue to reevaluate and adapt as things continue to change. We hope to gradually return completely to pre-pandemic church procedures.
  • Please feel free to contact us with any particular questions!

Guiding Principles

These guidelines have been developed with thought and prayer by our Board of Elders, in consultation with a licensed physician in the congregation. We realize that we are imperfect and these procedures are imperfect and not everybody will be pleased with these decisions. We ask for your grace and patience as this is uncharted territory for all of us. These have been some of the principles that have guided us throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic:

  1. We want to love our neighbors. The fifth commandment compels us not to hurt or harm our neighbors but to help and support them in every physical need. Jesus also affirmed the two great commandments, namely that we are to love the Lord our God and love our neighbors as ourselves. By taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we show love not only for those who come to worship but for the greater community, as we minimize the risk of community spread. Even as restrictions loosen, we seek to be mindful of those who are still vulnerable and those who, although “safe”, are still uncomfortable with the sudden change after months of exercising extreme caution. We have tried to be mindful of both the scientific evidence and the very real experiences and traumas that many have been enduring.
  2. We need what God offers in worship. The third commandment compels us to keep the Sabbath day holy. While our own safety and concern for others are very important, they do not negate our need for the gifts God gives in worship. We need the forgiveness of sins. We need Christian community. We need the nourishment of Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We can minimize risk but we must also realize that we need to be okay with a certain level of bodily risk in order to continue receiving that which is most important.
  3. We are not afraid. We do not take precautions because we are afraid or wish to promote fear. Jesus tells us, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Even if we were to catch a virus and die from it, we need not fear. We know that in Christ we have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). Love for others, not fear for ourselves, is what drives us to be cautious.