Initial Plan for Return to In-Person Worship at St. John Evangelical Lutheran
- Assuming no COVID-19 surge or backtracking from the CDC/PA Department of Health as to “re-opening” guidance, this plan will take effect on Sunday, June 28, and be in effect, initially, for the “summer” period, through Sunday, September 13, 2020.
- This plan will not in any way alter our pre-existing Sunday 8:45am time of Zoom Christian Education and 9:30am time of Zoom worship.
- To those Zoom experiences, we will add a Sunday 11:00am in-person worship opportunity, outdoors only, in the pavilion. The rest of this document refers to this 11:00am in-person outdoor worship opportunity. Everything which follows comes out of an abundance of concern and protection and love for each other – as Jesus would have us do – in these times of so much uncertainty and so much that is still unknown about the COVID-19 virus!
- To make sure that everyone attending can maintain a mandatory 6-foot safe spacing in the pavilion space, attendance will initially be limited to 24 persons, plus Pastor Tom/the worship leader. This number will be regularly reviewed by Pastor Tom in consultation with Congregational Council as we live with this worship experience, with an eye to increasing the limit as can be safely done.
- To make sure that no one coming for in-person worship would ever need to be turned away due to safe distancing concerns, everyone planning on attending on a given Sunday is strongly encouraged to please contact Pastor Tom/the worship leader ahead of time to “sign up”. Persons who come for worship but who haven’t signed up will also be welcome to attend as long as we have not already reached our limit of 24 persons. If we are already at our limit of 24 persons those persons will be kindly asked to return to their cars. We want very much to make sure that this NEVER happens, hence the stress on signing up in advance!!
- Anyone who isn’t feeling well for any reason is expected to refrain from attending in-person worship. Likewise, anyone who has been exposed any time in the prior 14 days to a person who subsequently develops COVID-19-like symptoms or who tests positive for COVID-19 is expected to refrain from attending in-person worship.
- Every person attending who is age 2 or older will be required to wear a mask covering both nose and mouth the entire time they are present in the pavilion. Because any of us can be carrying and transmitting COVID-19 even though we feel just fine, and because the risk of transmission has been shown to drop by 75% if everyone present is wearing a mask, out of love for our neighbors in worship, this is essential and no exceptions will be made for any reason. Anyone with a medical condition that prohibits them from wearing a mask is asked to please simply join in Zoom worship and refrain from our in-person worship for the present.
- To minimize any sharing of equipment, everyone attending is required to bring their own chair and arrange it so that they are observing a mandatory safe 6-foot spacing.
- The foyer restroom will be available for those attending worship. Anyone using the restroom will be asked to wear their mask while doing so and to afterward wipe down restroom surfaces with wipes and instructions which will be provided. Also, for the safety of us all, anyone using the foyer restroom will be asked to please go no further than the foyer itself – not upstairs or through any closed doors.
- The pavilion kitchen area will be locked/unavailable for entry at all times.
- Everyone attending is asked to please remember that we take the weather as we find it and to dress accordingly. Especially, it is often much cooler and windier in the pavilion than at home. We will not be able to put down the pavilion sides or go inside and so, if conditions are or become unsafe for worship, we will cancel or cut things short.
- Pastor Tom/another appointed person will be the sole worship leader. Neither Miss Laurie nor our keyboardists will be present as leaders.
- We will avoid singing and liturgical group spoken responses (which have been shown to be very much like singing in terms of risk of spreading virus).
- To minimize any sharing of equipment, we will not use bulletins or worship books.
- In accordance with existing congregational family practice, Holy Communion will be available on the first Sunday of the month and on festival Sundays, using the bread wafer only – no wine/cup – dropped in a no-touch fashion directly into the communicant’s hand by Pastor Tom. A blessing for those who do not commune will also be provided in a no-touch fashion. Each communicant will be asked to please wait until Pastor Tom has moved away before moving their mask just enough to allow them to place the wafer in their mouth. (Prior to distribution, Pastor Tom will have hand disinfecting wipes available which he will use to thoroughly sanitize his hands. These wipes will also be kept close at hand and, should Pastor Tom’s hand accidentally make contact with someone else’s during the serving, he will immediately pause the serving and repeat this sanitizing process before continuing.) Serving will take place with Pastor Tom going around to everyone in their safe spacing, to avoid lines or other crowding of the worshipers.
- It is planned that one or more “Hosts” will be available from at least 10:40am on to help to answer questions or otherwise guide those coming for worship while Pastor Tom makes the transition from the conclusion of 9:30am Zoom worship.
Approved by Congregational Council 6.14.20