COVID-19 RESPONSE PROTOCOL UPDATE AS OF MAY 19, 2021
FOR WORSHIP SETTINGS AT ST. PAUL LUTHERAN CHURCH
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released new guidelines related to public gatherings with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. These new guidelines have taken into account the effectiveness of the vaccination program with its related decline in reported COVID cases. With these new recommendations now in place, the Board of Elders met to discuss possible changes to our Sunday morning worship protocols. While the discussion considered the new CDC guidelines, it also gave due consideration to the fact that the COVID-19 virus has not been eliminated and is still prevalent in our community. Given those considerations, the following paragraphs outline the new worship setting practices to become effective immediately, as of this date, May 19, 2021.
1. The wearing of masks at worship will still be optional. The use of hand sanitizer will still be encouraged.
2. On the pulpit side of the sanctuary, seating will be fully opened. This means every row of pews will be available for seating on that side of the sanctuary. NOTE: This side of the church will not be sanitized between services.
3. On the lectern side of the sanctuary, we will continue the practice of having only every other row open for seating. Alternating rows will continue to be taped off. NOTE: This side of the church will be sanitized between services.
[NOTE: The goal of this new practice is intended to provide a comfort level for those who may not yet have been vaccinated or who are more comfortable with the familiar distancing practices we have had in place. At the same time, this will open up more seating for those who have been vaccinated or who feel comfortable with a closer environment in worship. On both sides of the sanctuary, all are invited please to be considerate of those seated around them, practicing safe distancing as much as possible and being respecters of the space of others around them.]
4. On-line reservations prior to Sunday morning worship will no longer be requested, since there will be greater capacity in the sanctuary with the aforementioned seating changes. Registration cards will be placed in the pew racks with the request that every attendee please register. Registration will be of utmost importance for purposes of tracking, just in case notice of a COVID case needs to be sent to those in attendance.
5. Communion practice will continue as it has been practiced for the current time, including drive-thru communion. This will include pastor and the distribution elders wearing masks and gloves. Plus, all will still be encouraged to stand at the communion rail.
In addition to these changes in the worship setting, the mask optional protocol will now also be the practice for children’s Sunday School classes. This concurrent guideline change in conjunction with Children’s Ministry means the mask optional provision will be consistent across all of our regular Sunday morning activities.
As we continue to move through the stages of COVID-19 among us, the worship protocols will continue to be evaluated. For now, it is hoped that these changes will provide opportunity for more people to attend onsite worship, while still striving to maintain a safe worship environment. Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation as we journey through these days.
To God be the Glory!
(published May 19, 2021)