General Principles
We are excited to announce that we will be returning to embodied worship (in-person, in the church sanctuary) starting this Sunday, June 14. The service will begin at the regular time of 10:45am.

Below are some general principles and guidelines about returning to worship. In a separate email, we will be sending out some particular details about how our worship service will be upon returning. Our goals with these guidelines are two: as much as possible to keep our congregants safe from infection, and to ensure that all of our worshipers feel safe and cared for in light of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Symptoms
Please, if you or anyone in your household is experiencing any of the known symptoms of the coronavirus, we urge you to stay home to prevent potential risk of exposing others to the virus. 

The symptoms you should watch for, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), are: fever, chills, dry cough, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, recent loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

Again, if you (or someone in your household) has any of these symptoms, we would encourage you to remain home and consider getting tested for the coronavirus. Please participate with our worship virtually, as you have been doing (more on this below).

At-Risk Groups
Likewise, those groups that are known to be particularly at-risk with regard to the coronavirus should consider remaining home and participate with us virtually instead (more on virtual worship below).

Those groups that are especially high-risk include: elderly people, those with pre-existing health conditions, and/or those with compromised immune systems. This includes people who have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Social Distancing
For those who will be joining us for embodied worship, we do ask that you continue to practice "social distancing" as much as possible—maintaining a distance of at least six feet from all persons that are not part of your household.

Social distancing has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of exposure. While it is almost completely opposite of what our "normal" and common practices are and have been as a congregation, we strongly encourage you to keep instincts in check to hug, shake hands, and make other physical contact with fellow worshipers.

Masks
In partnership with social distancing before, during, and after the worship service, we are urging that all of those in attendance wear masks the entire time you are present with others. While we will not turn anyone away who is not wearing a mask, we request that you do so in the strongest way possible.

Masks are as much (or more) for others' care as for your own. Even if you are not concerned about infection, your fellow worshipers may be. The theory of masks is that "your mask protects me, my mask protects you." Out of love for your neighbor and brothers and sisters in Christ, please wear a mask.

Hand-Washing
Finally, hand-washing is vital in preventing the spread of infection and disease. We want to remind you to make use of hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes before you enter the sanctuary, and again when you return to your vehicle after worship. We will also have hand sanitizer available for use on the premises.

Online/Virtual Worship Continuing
Because we know already that some of our regular congregants are planning to remain home for a while longer—and because we want to minister to anyone who should opt to stay home out of concern of symptoms or being at-risk—we will continue to provide a "virtual worship" option online in a similar manner that we have been for the last months.

Virtual worship will be different from what we have become accustomed to over recent weeks, because it will need to accommodate those of us who are present in the sanctuary and because we will not have as many participating in the Zoom conference. Nevertheless, we believe that virtual worship will provide an acceptable, if not ideal, option for those who must remain home.

Details for connecting to our virtual worship will be provided on the Saturday afternoon before, just as we have been doing. 

Communion
If you should remain at home for worship but participate via our virtual service, we will bring the communion elements to you following the service so that you might receive the sacrament as well. If you would like us to do so, please let one of us (Shane or Ed) know and we will make arrangements with you.
Specifics about the Worship Service
Before & After
Our normal practice is to enjoy fellowship with others before worship and after. We encourage you to still come early enough to speak with others, and/or to linger for a few minutes afterward for the same—but maintain social distancing as you do so. 

Getting in Place
As you enter the sanctuary, please make your way to your usual seat where you will find that bulletins/orders of worship will already be placed at the end of the pew. If you use kneelers, those will also be placed at the end of your pew.

Pews & Kneeling
As you will notice, the pews have been spaced out to put six feet of distance between each row. There are also fewer rows of pews, but there are enough that each person/household may sit approximately where you normally do.

If you kneel during the Confession of Sin, we ask that you turn to face the pew you are sitting in as you kneel.

Singing & Music
Because of significant evidence that corporate singing is a major contributor to spreading the coronavirus, we will not be singing as a congregation. Instead, most of our music will be instrumental only. The lyrics of the songs and hymns will be provided in the order of worship for you to meditate on as they are playing.

One song or hymn each week will be sung by a soloist, so that our service will not be only instrumental.

Tithes & Offerings
Rather than passing an offering plate or having a common location that everyone must visit, we ask that you leave whatever gift, tithe, or offering that you might bring on the pew where you sat. Someone will collect them after the service when the sanctuary is empty.

Communion
We ask that you come forward for communion one household at a time, with each one waiting until the one before them has collected their communion elements and moved back toward their seats. The bread and cup will be "stacked" together in a certain manner so that you only need to take a single stack for each person. We assure you that, in preparing these "stacks" we are taking every precaution possible to prevent any contamination of your communion elements.

We're going to do all we can to keep our worship service as "normal" as we can. Necessary adjustments are being made for the sake of pandemic safety; some of them may work better than others, and something we try one week might be scrapped for the next. Please bear with us as we learn along with you how to do this well.