by: Christian Ilten
Grace and Peace in the Name of Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
While our rented canopy on our front lawn has continued to be invaluable in regards to our having the ability to continue to engage in outdoor worship, cold, wet and sometimes violently windy weather has made outdoor worship difficult, and as was the case last week, sometimes impossible. The Pastors, along with the Board of Elders, have developed a rubric for trying to determine the best location for Sunday worship as early as possible in the week; that rubric (which includes forecasts for temperature, rain and wind) has led us to determine that worship for this Sunday, January 31, 2021 will be inside the Family Life Center.
Please know that given current guidelines, outdoor worship remains our “default” preference, however our leadership here has determined that it is not reasonable (and even potentially unsafe) to worship outdoors given certain extreme weather conditions. We have developed this policy for determining worship location as early in the week as possible in order that those attending worship as well as those participating in it (musicians, singers, elders, etc.) may be able to make the most informed personal decisions as soon as it is feasible. We will continue to livestream both worship services for those who feel safer joining us from home.
Also know that we are keeping tabs on what public health officials, elected officials, our district, our synod, and what the courts all have to say about returning indoors for regular worship. Unless weather precludes it, we will continue holding two outdoor services each Sunday moving forward, at least in the short term:
• 8 am, with traditional hymns, and
• 10 am, with contemporary praise music
As we have done since we were able to come back together, we want to make two things clear:
1. This worship format is only temporary. We look forward to the time we can return to our regular worship with more songs and a fuller liturgy. That time is coming.
2. Although we have been cleared to worship together in this outdoor setting, there are guidelines that must be followed; also, simply because we can gather for worship does not mean everyone must gather for worship. We will deliver the live stream broadcasts of both Sunday morning services each week, so if any of the following circumstances exists, please stay home and join us from the comfort of your living room:
• If you or anyone in your family has been exposed to someone with COVID-19;
• If you are not feeling well (cough, chest congestion, fever, etc.);
• If you have a pre-existing condition that might put you at risk for contracting COVID-19 (compromised immune system, cardio-pulmonary condition, etc.);
• If you are simply fearful or apprehensive of the risk involved.
We will also continue to abide with the guidelines established by the CDC and local officials, which seem to be shifting constantly. In order to do so, we have to continue to place certain limits on worship, including but not limited to the following considerations:
1. Face coverings are required for ALL worship services, whether indoors or outdoors. Please be sure to also wear your face covering when entering and exiting the worship space or when walking or standing closer than 6 feet to other worshippers. If you happen to arrive without a face covering, please ask one of the Elders, Pastors, or ushers and they will gladly provide you with one. Also, if you would be more comfortable in your own portable chair than the ones provided, please feel free to bring one;
2. Social distancing protocol must continue be followed; to accomplish this the outside chairs will be set in such a way as we are able to maintain 6 ft. distancing between individuals and/or family units;
3. For the time being, the nursery will remain closed – there will be no child care available during worship and there will be no “in-person” Sunday School;
4. Without specific permission to have larger numbers in attendance, we will continue to limit the numbers of those in attendance due to CDC and local guidelines. Those attendance limitations are as follows:
• 8 am FLC or Outdoor Worship – 100 attendees allowed
• 10:00 am FLC or Outdoor Worship – 100 attendees allowed
The sign-ups will be the same format as the last several weeks, and you can find the sign-up link here:
Please be sure to sign up only one person/family per space, indicate the specific number that will be in attendance, as well as listing the names of all that will be in attendance. Please do not bring additional worshipers with you that have not signed up to attend; once we reach the limit of attendees at each service we cannot allow any additional people into the worship space.
Through this difficult time, we will continue forward with an abundance of caution, patience and love. Remember that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Please be gracious and understanding toward one another, since many of us may hold differing views regarding some of the guidelines we must follow. This is temporary, and God will lead us through it. So if we are to err, let’s err on the side of grace. Continue to pray that God’s Word be heard by a world that needs it so badly.
His perfect peace be with you today and always. Hope to “see” you in worship this coming Sunday!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Eric and Pastor Pat