It is great to be back for in-person worship. Following our recent services, we received a variety of comments and questions about our practices. Some wanted the masking to be eliminated. Some wanted to be sure that masking continued. There were comments about Holy Communion and about singing. As we begin our journey back to a “new normal,” please understand that we are guided by the principle that it is our responsibility to protect the vulnerable. St. Paul is clear in scripture that protecting the vulnerable is a priority in the life of a congregation (see, for instance, Romans 13-14 and 1 Corinthians 8).
And yet, as vaccination rates rise and cases of COVID-19 fall, we have some added latitude in what is safe. We look first at what the federal, state and local health officials declare. That means reviewing the material in its entirety, not just listening to the parts that are described in the media. There is often nuance in that guidance.
This is the guidance for in-person worship at Our Shepherd. It will be amended as conditions allow.
Face masks will continue to be worn when inside the building. Not all people are vaccinated and not all people are eligible to be vaccinated (children under 12 and immunocompromised people, for example). We want to be as welcoming to all as possible.
We will continue to ask you to sign in either by text message or by adding your name to the log. We will use this to notify you if someone in worship tests positive for COVID-19.
We will continue to use the pre-filled communion cups until we exhaust our supply.
Singing will be permitted once again. Remember that masks are required. We are delaying sung liturgy for now, but we expect that will return soon.
The hymnals are back in the pews and may be used during worship. This is the source for music for the in-person worship. Lyrics or music will not be printed.
We will permit seating in every other pew, leaving a vacant pew between people. You are encouraged to sit with your household and leave three feet between you and those not of your household.
We will not pass offering plates yet. Please continue to give online or place your offering in one of the offering plates as you enter or leave worship.
Worship will continue to be livestreamed. We have invested in those resources and will continue this option even as the pandemic fades into history.
For now, there will be one worship service at 9:30am on Sundays. This will continue at least through the summer unless attendance requires us to add another service.