My dear friends in Christ,

Due to an increase in covid-19 case numbers, new mandates from the county/state and at the recommendation of our bishop we have decided to suspend all on-site activities effective immediately until further notice.

There are several things which are very important to know before returning to in-person worship. We ask that you please read this entire letter as it contains guidelines for our new normal.

  • We will offer two services upon on return. We anticipate this lasting through the summer or as long as necessary. The two services are intended to thin out the crowd and allow for social distancing. Our two serves will be 9AM (indoor), 10:30 (Inside for fall/winter).
    • 9AM service will be held in the sanctuary. People will be asked to sit every other pew and at opposite ends. The pews will be marked off to give guidance.
      • We ask that people wear masks for this service.
    • 10:30AM service will be held inside during the fall/winter. Outside when the weather is nice in the pavilion. People are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets and sit apart to help with social distancing.
  • Masks are required for all activities, especially within the building. This is based on county/state guidelines.
  • There will be no physical passing of the peace (hugs, handshakes, etc) people will be invited to wave, and offer peace will not touching. You are welcome to share the peace with you immediate family but we ask you to refrain from sharing the peace outside of waving with others.
  • Until further notice we will not offer any planned social gatherings, i.e. coffee hour, etc.
  • Offering may be placed in a box/basket at a designated place. The offering will be brought forth during the offering.
  • We ask that as you come into the church for the 9AM service you pick up the bulletin and go directly into the sanctuary. Please limit time socializing in the narthex.
  • Communion we will be distributed and received in a new way that is safe and sacred.  Please come forward by rows while keeping 6 feet apart. Keep mask on coming forward. Masks may be pulled down to eat and drink the sacrament. The pastor will drop the host in your hand. Wine will be available by pre-filled cups. Be cautious not to touch any other cup other than the one you are picking up. Used cups may be placed in the appropriate receptacle. Masks can then be readjusted as you return to your pew. If you wish to receive the bread only that is acceptable. As Lutherans our confessions teach us that we receive the full body and blood of Christ and forgiveness of sins even if we have the Eucharist in one ‘kind,’ meaning just the bread or wine. Further direction will be given at the time of distribution.
  • Worship assistants and leaders must wear masks. Greeters and ushers must wear masks and are not to shake hands. Counters will also be asked to wear masks and gloves if available.
  • At this time we have introduced one hymn each Sunday. Our worship will continue to be enhanced by special music, prelude and postlude. A special hymn will be read while music is playing. People are welcome to hum. This will be an opportunity to listen and mediate adding a more contemplative aspect to music.

You may be tempted to read this list of restrictions and precautions and see it as discouraging. Please be encouraged! We are returning and worshiping together! Yes, it may look different but we are together! The challenge of returning is learning how to do things differently, for a time. Eventually as restrictions and CDC guidelines begin to relax we will adapt accordingly. We are in this together because we are church together!

We appreciate your willingness to follow these new guidelines for our in-person worship. If you have questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk with me. I would also like to say how appreciative I am for all of your support throughout these past few months and your continued support in the months ahead. Your financial support has truly sustained the church and kept us going and reduced our anxiety. Your kind words, love, encouragements and notes have kept me strong. Know that I am grateful for each and everyone of you!

Brothers and sisters in Christ let us pray,

Good and Gracious God we offer our thanks for your holy church and for the gift that we have in one another as a community made new through Christ. Open our hearts and minds to be the church in new ways and to always remember that we are the body of Christ. Keep safe all those who will be returning to houses of worship in the days ahead. Sustain the weary. Heal the sick. Encourage the discouraged. Support those who will be unable to join us. Comfort us in our fears and easy our worry. God of community, you form us as your church. Guide our bishops, pastors, deacons, and all the baptized in sharing your life-giving good news with all the world. Strengthen us to be bold in our proclamation. Receive these prayers, O God, and those too deep for words; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With you in Christ Jesus +

Pastor Joseph Murdy