The Church Council met on 16 June and approved the recommendations of the Board of Elders to resume church services on 21 June as described below. Via phone conversations with most of the congregation, the Elders discussed concerns surrounding resuming services and these guidelines reflect those conversations.
It is critical that we continue to offer online worship for those who feel safer at home. Mark Ching is setting up a camera system to allow both a live stream and a recorded version of the service. Details on how to access this system will be provided before Sunday.
The guidelines we are using are based on the State of Virginia Phase 2 requirements for religious services. The following items describe how we will conduct worship at the church:
- Masks are highly recommended. Please understand that your decision not to wear a mask may deter others from coming to worship.
- Pews will be marked off to keep distancing at approximately six feet (every other pew) between families. Families may sit together in a pew separated by a space in the middle between families. The reason for marking pews is to ensure maximum seating in the church while still maintaining the recommended distance between families.
- Physical contact should be minimized. There will be no passing of the Peace. (Say “Hi!” or “Peace be with you!” or wave.) The offering plate will be at the rear door of the church to drop off tithes and offerings as you come or go.
- For communion, communicants will be ushered from their pew to the aisle and toward the altar, keeping physical distance. At the altar Pastor will greet them while maintaining physical distance behind the altar rail. Communicants will have before them, on a table, a small bowl which contains a wafer and an individual cup of wine. The bowls will be pre-staged and covered with a paper plate or napkin. The communicants then will remove the coverings and partake of the contents therein. As the communicants return to their seats via the side aisles, there will be bags for the disposal of plates/napkins and cups. No Elder, Communion Assistant, Acolyte, or Crucifer is involved in this mode of distribution.
- Worshipers are asked to leave the hymnals in the racks. Hymns will be printed in the worship folders. Also, no attendance cards will be used.
- Singing will be limited during the service, both in the liturgy and in the hymns. This will help meet the Governor’s guidance for shortened services and reduce exposure risk through singing. It was discussed that singing can be done safely if people wear masks and lower the volume of their singing.
- At the end of the service and after the closing by Pastor, congregants should be seated. An usher will dismiss rows one at a time from the back of the church to the front. As people leave the sanctuary, they should proceed directly to the parking lots without stopping to gather. The exterior doors will be blocked open before and after services so people do not need to touch door handles.
- We ask that only one person at a time enter the coat room, even while checking your mailbox.
- We are wiping down the pews, door handles, light switches, and other commonly-touched areas before the service this Sunday. Per the Governor’s guidance we need to do this every week between services. We will be requesting volunteers to serve in this way for as long as the State of Virginia Phase 2 requirements are in effect.
We look forward to the day when we can resume our worship services free from these pandemic guidelines. As we work through these guidelines, we are having on-going conversations about improving the procedures that are in place to ensure the health and safety of our congregation. We appreciate your feedback concerning these matters. Your prayers, your patience, and your participation (whether online or in person) are essential for our congregation as we navigate this time together.
Mike Dargel, Congregation President
Stu Schwarzer, Head Elder
Rev. D. Keith Beasley, Pastor