Grace Church Family and Friends,
As we look everyday at the numbers of positive Covid cases in our county, state and around the country, we all continue to wonder how we will return to our sanctuary services, reuniting in our sacred space. We pray that you are safe and well, but this time of separation is becoming increasingly difficult for many. We have developed a proposed plan that will allow us to return to the sanctuary, if all can agree to new and unusual practices designed to help guarantee the safety of our congregation and our community.
Please review the proposals listed below. We encourage your input.
- As we work toward setting a reopening date for sanctuary services, we will focus on two factors. First, we want to set aside some time for Pastor Kieth and Jessica to establish a routine with their new baby. More critically, we will be looking at state and county Covid case data and the status of our county in terms of emergency levels during this crisis. A date will be designated as soon as possible.
- On the designated date, a sanctuary service will be offered but entry and exit from the sanctuary will look very different and our traditional service will be modified to help protect those in attendance.
- Entry: Upon approaching the church, you will see spacing indicators as there may be a short line to enter the building. All persons will be required to wear a mask while in the church. As you enter, you will see a table with a hand sanitizing station and extra masks. The restrooms will be open, but will be limited to one person at a time. The drinking fountain will be inoperable and covered with plastic. Greeters at the first table will welcome you and then direct you into the sanctuary. The Narthex can no longer be used as a gathering area during this time. You will be directed into the sanctuary upon entry into the building.
- Sanctuary seating: Upon entry into the sanctuary, there will be an offering table. Please drop off your offerings as you enter as there will not be a collection time during the service. Upon entering the sanctuary, an usher will direct you to the designated seating areas using both the center aisle and the outside aisles to access seating areas. To guarantee social distancing, some pews will be closed and seating areas in each open row will be designated. During the duration of this health care crisis, for the safety of all concerned, seating will be assigned as you arrive. You will not be able to choose your seat. We appreciate your understanding. If anyone needs to leave during the service, please simply stand and exit by the nearest aisle. Ushers will assist you as necessary.
- Service: The service will be different from many of our traditions. Passing of the Peace will be a time to stand, turn in your pews, wave and touch your heart as you see friends and family. Our hugs will need to be with our hearts and not our hands. Hymns: As we restart the sanctuary service, we will have music, but initially we will not be singing hymns. However, if it becomes apparent that people can wear masks throughout the service, we will be able to add singing back into the service. We can do this as soon as the second week if it seems that all are comfortable wearing masks. Masks must be left on while singing.Responsive readings will be similarly limited, but will be added immediately if we see the use of masks being accepted. This includes the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer. Communion plans are still being formulated, but an initial thought is that there will be words of blessing and then on communion Sundays, you will receive blessed items in sealed bags. Again, we will finalize a workable plan.
- Pastor Keith: Pastor Keith will not walk down the main aisle to enter the service. He will enter by the back stairway leading to the pulpit. Lay readers will assume a position seated near the lectern prior to the service. Pastor Keith will be removing his mask during the service, always remaining in the pulpit and altar areas. Pastor Keith will do the benediction from the altar area and bless us as we are dismissed.
- Exiting: We will be leaving the church by rows, beginning in the back, as directed by the ushers. We ask that you exit the building as your row is dismissed.
- Each service will be live streamed and recorded for those of you who wish to continue being part of the service online. Your safety and comfort is what is most important. Be safe with our blessings.
These procedures are designed to protect our family and friends in church, and as we go out of the church to do God’s mission. We hope that you will see these as we intended them…an effort to protect God’s people as we work toward creating a new normal for Grace Church. We look forward to gathering to worship with you in our community. These policies will help us to do so safely.
Go with Grace