Online services can now be found on this page.
Plan for Returning to In-Person Worship
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are pleased to announce that on-site worship will resume May 23 at 5:30PM and May 24 at 9:00AM with the celebration of the Ascension of Our Lord. As we return from our COVID-19 exile, it will not be the big, triumphant celebration we were all hoping for. We will have to change the way we do things for a while, and for some this will make our coming together bittersweet. I am reminded of the words of the prophet Ezra at the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian exile:
“And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”Ezra 3: 11-13
Nevertheless, we return and “enter into his gates with thanksgiving!” Psalm 100:4
What you are asked to do for your neighbors
As you plan to return to church, we ask that you please take the time to read and kindly follow these guidelines:
- If you have had any symptoms in the last 14 days, please stay home!
- Do not arrive early. Doors will be unlocked at 5:15PM Saturdays and 8:45AM Sundays.
- We ask that all who attend wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose for the protection, love, and respect of their fellow-worshipers. Wearing a mask has been shown to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets and decrease the risk of infection. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided.
- Minimize bathroom use as much as possible.
- Keep a minimum 6ft distance from others at all times (social distancing).
- Refrain from hand shaking, hugging, and other forms of contact with those outside of your household.
- Do not gather in the building before or after worship. Conversation may take place outside from a safe distance.
What your church will do for you
Also for your awareness, here are some measures that will be taken for your safety:
- Doors will be propped or held open for you.
- Every other pew will be left empty.
- Hand sanitizer will be available.
- Unused bulletins with attendance cards inside will be set on pews as you enter. You will be asked to drop them into a recycling container as you exit.
- As a temporary measure, we will not sing hymns or liturgy as singing has been shown to spread COVID-19 more rapidly than speaking. The elders and pastor will continue to evaluate this decision with help from medical professionals.
- There will be no greeting of peace.
- Offering plates will not be passed. An offering plate will be set near the exit for your offering and attendance card.
- Holy Communion will not be celebrated this week. The Sacrament will be celebrated on May 30-31 and every week following. This is to allow the elders and pastor time to develop and walk through new procedures that allow for maximum social distancing.
- Worshipers will be dismissed by household at the end of the service.
- All surfaces will be thoroughly disinfected after each service.
At this point, worship is the only activity that will be resuming. A plan will be developed in June regarding all other activities.
It will be great to see you whenever you choose to return to worship. If you are considered high-risk or you are not yet comfortable being in a public setting, it is perfectly God-pleasing and acceptable to continue to worship from home until you are ready. Online services will continue to be offered.
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122:1
See you in church (whether virtually or in-person),
May 1 Update: As of today, Governor Reynolds’ proclamation limiting worship services to 10 or fewer people has expired in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, including Dubuque where other restrictions have been extended until May 15. Pastor Crawford and the board of elders have decided that an immediate return to in-person worship services would not be in the best interest of the congregation. An elders meeting will be held online Saturday to discuss potential plans for a return date. We are also exploring ways that we might be able to continue streaming services online after we return. Updates will continue to be posted here.
UPDATE: Wednesday, March 25
WHAT’S THE PLAN FOR APRIL?
That’s what we’re all wondering. As of now, the governor’s orders restricting gatherings to 10 or less only remains in effect until the end of March. Our mayor has also urged Dubuque residents to stay home for 14 days (ending April 6). The medical community seems to suggest it will take much longer, possibly into the summer. With so much unknown at this point, we are not going set dates for any events in April at St. Paul until we have solid information from our governing authorities and healthcare professionals that it is safe to resume normal activities. If the situation rapidly improves and we are able to have Holy Week and Easter services as usual, that information will be published. For now, worship services will continue to be available online and DVDs will be available by request. Check back here for the latest updates.
In addition, church facilities will be closed to everyone until April 6 (unless extended). This is in compliance with the mayor’s recommendation and for the safety of our community. The pastor and secretary will only be in the office on a very limited basis to complete essential printing tasks and to record worship services. Even if you have a church key, we are asking that you please not enter the building. For specific questions contact Pastor Jon or Dennis Waugh.
UPDATE: Thursday, March 19 – We will be streaming a worship service this weekend through our Facebook page and on YouTube. Instructions on how to watch along with a downloadable bulletin will be posted to the website by Saturday. I will also offer another live-streamed devotion next Wednesday through our Facebook page. We are planning to deliver DVDs and bulletins to those without Internet access. If you are willing to help with these deliveries, please contact us.
Next week, the board of elders and I will begin developing plans for how to make Holy Communion available in the event that the social distancing restrictions remain in place after the end of the month. For now, please contact us if you would like to receive the Sacrament individually or in small groups. I will also be available during the week for individual absolution and pastoral care. Call or email to schedule these in advance.
Tuesday, March 17
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
I am sad to announce that as of today, ALL WORSHIP SERVICES THROUGH MARCH 31 WILL BE CANCELLED.
Check our Facebook Page for the latest updates.
Please share this information with anyone you know who does not use email or social media.
Things are changing by the hour and we are doing our best to adapt. This morning, Governor Reynolds issued a proclamation which reads, in part: “Mass Gathering: Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are hereby prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of this disaster.”
I want to stress that this is not a case of the government trying to suppress the Gospel. This is a situation where the governing authorities, whom God has appointed, are seeking to act in the best interest of Iowans. In such a case as this, our consciences are bound by the Fourth Commandment, which instructs us to honor, serve, obey, love and cherish our parents and other authorities.
The Board of Elders and I will be working on alternatives, such as making a recorded service available on Facebook, DVD or other media, and providing worship resources that can be used at home.
I also want to stress that this is not a time to stress. This is a time to pray for those who are sick or anxious, our governing authorities, our healthcare workers, and others who provide essential services. Give assistance where you are needed but do not needlessly put anyone at risk. Our Lord comforts us with these words from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Your servant in Christ,