COVID-19 Guidelines

COVID-19 Guidelines

August 13, 2021

Current Procedures

  • Face masks are strongly encouraged for everyone, including individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • For the time being, we will refrain from singing. Organ or instrumental music will still accompany and beautify our worship.
  • 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!

Q&A

Based on the board of elders’ conversation with a member physician.

  • Why are masks recommended for people who are vaccinated? The delta variant of COVID-19 can be transmitted by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
  • Why is singing not recommended, even with masks and social distancing? The delta variant has been found to be much more contagious than the original coronavirus. On average, a person infected with the original strain would infect 2.5 other people. A person infected with the delta variant typically infects 8 other people. Masks help impede the transmission but they aren’t perfect. Singing spreads respiratory particles much farther than speaking.
  • Why aren’t we exercising more caution with Communion procedures? We now know the virus is primarily airborne and not commonly transmitted by touching surfaces. Also, time of exposure is an important factor. The time we are together at the communion rail is not long enough to be a major concern.
  • Most of us in church are either vaccinated or willing to take the risk, so why are we being so cautious? Most, but certainly not all who attend regularly have been vaccinated. We exercise caution to protect children and those who have not been vaccinated. We are also aware of a responsibility to the larger community. While we want to spread the love of Jesus in our neighborhood, we do not want to spread anything else to our unvaccinated and vulnerable neighbors!
  • As a mother of younger children who are not able to be vaccinated, do you feel safe taking them to church? Yes, we will continue to bring our kids to church. It gives us more peace of mind if we are taking these steps to reduce the spread of the virus in church.

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.