Effective May 4th, Governor Rickets issued guidelines for reopening worship services on a restricted basis.
The two most important restrictions are 1) encouraging the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, as well as anyone who lives with them, to stay home, and 2) maintaining six feet of social distance between individuals/household units. There are many additional guidelines as well, all to ensure that we do not spread the coronavirus while at worship.
The pastor and elders of St. Paul understand the great value and blessing of being able to gather in person for worship. But we also take seriously the governor’s message that these reopening guidelines should not be interpreted to mean there has been a decreased threat of the virus. And faith leaders are responsible for making sure that all of these safety measures are followed, particularly for the sake of our most vulnerable members, some of whom may choose to attend worship despite being urged to stay home.
The size of our congregation (our average worship attendance is 200-250 people) makes it so that, under these guidelines, not all of us would be able to worship together on the same Sunday. And even for those who do come, the experience will be significantly different from normal. Ushers will be posted at each door to ensure social distancing as families enter and leave the building. There won’t be any of our usual socializing in the narthex before or after worship. Communion practice will be different and there will be no bible study or Sunday school afterwards, as well as other restrictions. And extensive sanitizing measures will be needed after each service.
With these considerations in mind, the elders are taking a slow and measured approach to reopening worship. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to monitor the number of new COVID-19 cases in our area as well as the amount of testing available. Before reopening, we will work with our custodians and ushers on a safety plan. And we will continue with our live-streamed services, online bible studies, and drive-up communion services which have been effective in reaching a large number of people with Word and Sacrament ministry.
We thank God for the ability to hear His Word and receive the means of grace through this time- and for everyone who makes it possible! Peace in Christ!
Elders of St. Paul Lutheran Church