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September 15, 2020

At their regularly scheduled meeting on August 25, the church council requested that the Worship and Music Committee develop a plan for in-person worship in light of the COVID pandemic. The W&M Committee met on September 1 for that purpose and then reported their suggestions to the council for review at the Sept. 15 meeting. What follows is the result of these discussions and will serve as the blueprint for how in-person worship could take place safely at Elim at some point in the future. At their Sept. 15 meeting, the council voted to continue parking lot communion through Oct. 12 and possibly beyond, depending upon local rates of infection and the guidance of both local health officials and the synod office. We ask that you please familiarize yourselves with these guidelines so that when we are able to worship together again, you will know what to expect.

 

GENERAL

              -If you an individual in a high-risk group, please continue staying home and                             participating in the radio broadcast to reduce the possibility of infection.

              -If prospective worshippers are experiencing COVID symptoms (i.e. aches, dry                           cough, temperature, sneezing, runny nose, loss of taste) they are encouraged  to                   stay home.

             -Worship will begin at 9AM, with doors opening at 8:35AM.

              -Face masks will be required to enter the building.

              -You are encouraged to wear your own mask, but paper masks will be available.

              -From 8:30AM until 10:15AM ceiling fans and HVAC will be turned off. In winter,                         please bring additional wraps as needed.
 
 

ENTRANCE

            -Entrance to the building will be granted to those with masks, or a mask will be

              provided to them.

            -Two masked door persons will be designated to open the doors leading into the                      building.

            -Hand sanitizer dispensers are available on both levels of the Gathering Area.

            -A single masked greeter will meet worshippers at the steps, encouraging them to                   move quickly to the sanctuary either by steps or by elevator. Conversations beyond                 brief greetings are discouraged.

            -Those using the elevator will be limited to two persons at a time.

            -A second greeter will be stationed in the upper-level gathering are to keep things                 moving and encourage safe distancing. Floor markings will indicate where                               individuals or households may stand while waiting to be seated.

 
 
INTO THE SANCTUARY

              -Seating in the sanctuary will be from the front to the back with limited seat                                selection.

            -Safely-distanced seating for 50, by two’s and three’s, has been designated in     the                  sanctuary.

             -An offering plate will be placed just inside the sanctuary door to receive offerings                  as Worshippers enter or leave.

            -Two ushers will assist EVERY worshipper/household to find appropriate seating.

            -Masks should remain in place until holy communion is served.

            -No paper bulletins will be used; all hymnals, envelopes, and pencils will be                            removed from the pews to further inhibit the possibility for infection.

            -Those receiving holy communion will receive from the ushers a plastic bag which                 contains both a communion wafer and small serving of either wine or grape-juice.                   Gluten free communion wafers will also be available upon request.

            -The worship service in all its parts will appear on the Power Point screen.

            -Once worshippers are seated, they will be encouraged to remain in place. Should                   they need to leave for any reason before the service has been completed, those                     wishing to return will be seated in chairs in the upper-level Gathering Area.

            -Doors to the sanctuary will remain open throughout the service.

            -Overflow seating will be available in the upper-level Gathering Area.

            -Those involved in leading worship (pastor, organist, reader, communion                                    assistants) will have assigned seats.

 

WORSHIP BEGINS

              -There can be no singing and spoken responses will be minimal. As during the                          radio Broadcasts, there will be occasional musical interludes.

              -Standing will also be kept to a minimum.

              -It is likely that the service will last 40-45 minutes.

 

HOLY COMMUNION

              -When the Great Thanksgiving begins, worshippers will be encouraged to keep                        their masks in place but take the bag they received containing elements into                    their hands.

              -Following the Lord’s Prayer and the Invitation to Communion, worshippers                          may remove masks, eat the wafer and drink the wine, then put their masks back on.

              -Place the cup and its cover back into the baggie for disposal upon leaving.

 
 

TAKING LEAVE

              -Worshippers would be dismissed from the sanctuary from back to front to                                further reduce aerosol sharing.

              -Dismissals would be “timed” to prevent congestion at the rear of the                                sanctuary.

              -Worshippers would be asked to leave the building as soon as possible, though                        parking lot conversations would be encouraged. There will be no formal                                  Fellowship nor educational opportunities.

              -Once the sanctuary is empty, ushers will clean up, and they too will leave as                   quickly as possible.

              -The building will be closed 20 minutes after the service has been completed.

              -The sanctuary will not be cleaned until the latter part of the following week.

 

Thank you for your consideration of and cooperation with these guidelines.