Church Safety Announcement
September 2, 2020
The Church Safety Team met today and would like to clarify our church policy regarding masks. Governor DeWine announced a statewide mask mandate that began on July 23 for all of Ohio. Face masks are required for any indoor public gathering or activity – which includes all those occurring at Grace.
As a Christian congregation we are called to obedience to our governing authorities (Romans 13), and especially to love and respect others within our congregation (Romans 12:10). Wearing a mask is a very tangible way for us to love others and show we care about their safety.
Therefore, MASKS ARE REQUIRED AT GRACE. They are required to be worn into worship, during worship, and during meetings. If someone wants to attend worship but cannot wear a mask for medical or other reasons, they are kindly (but firmly) asked to sit in the narthex during worship. This will keep them separated from all those who are wearing masks in the sanctuary – for safety’s sake. Those in the narthex during worship are instructed to remain there during Holy Communion – which Pastor will bring to them in the narthex. A Church Safety Team member – usually Bonnie Abicht – will be present on Sunday mornings to assist and guide these situations.
If you have any further comments or questions about this church policy, please let me know.
Thank you for your cooperation, as we seek to walk together in faith during this difficult time.
Yours in Christ,
Church Safety Announcement
July 11, 2020
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Thursday, July 9th that Lorain County has been upgraded to a Level 3 COVID-19 Risk Level (see article at https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/covid19-update-07092020 ). As such, face masks are required for any public gathering or activity within the county – which includes all those occurring at Grace. Therefore, as of Friday, July 10th face masks will be required for all those coming to Grace for worship, meetings, or other activity. This includes Sunday worship on July 12th. We will still continue to gather for worship services – making use of all the other safety guidelines that are already in place. (You can find them in the June newsletter or on our church website homepage below). Holy Communion will still be offered in the same distribution method as the past few Sundays (with communicants separated by household at the rail, with kneeling optional). Extra face-masks will be available in the narthex.
The Church Safety Team and I will continue to monitor the situation and upcoming Governor announcements. We continually pray for wisdom during these times, that God’s Kingdom would come among us, and that God might grant us relief from this virus and its effects.
Yours in Christ,
Grace Worship Announcement
May 31, 2020
By far the BIGGEST and most frequent question I’ve been getting lately is: “When will we be resuming Sunday worship at Grace?” The short answer is Sunday, June 7th. The longer answer is that starting in June we will resume Sunday morning worship – with several changes. These are only temporary. Many of them will be the same as was used for our March 15th worship service (the last time we all worshiped together in the sanctuary):
– There will be one divine worship service at 10:00 am.
– People should kindly refrain from shaking hands or giving hugs at church.
– The entire worship service will be printed out on paper so that no hymnals will need to be used or touched. Hymnals, Bibles, and the red friendship pads will all be removed from the pews.
– The Ushers will not hand out bulletins or papers. Instead, items will be laid out for everyone to pick-up on a table in the narthex.
– Everyone entering church is highly encouraged to take a paper towel or napkin (available on the table) with them for possible use during the service for coughing or touching the pews.
– The offering plates will not be passed during the service – but instead will be placed by the main doors into the sanctuary, to be used before or after the service.
– When entering the church a Greeter will show everyone where the hand sanitizer is located and be ready to answer any questions or concerns.
– When possible, people are encouraged to maintain social distancing (6 feet of distance between each other).
– There will be no coffee hour or Adult Bible Class after the services.
The biggest area of change will be with Holy Communion – a sacred activity that draws us into deeper communion with God and one another. The following Communion changes will be implemented temporarily:
– Holy Communion will continue to be offered at every Sunday morning divine service.
– The Altar Guild will prepare Holy Communion using masks and gloves.
– Communicants will be invited to the communion rail where they will maintain social distancing (households staying 6 feet away from each other). Tape on the floor and communion rail will help mark off the 6 foot distance.
– Communicants will all stand and not kneel during Communion.
– Pastor, wearing gloves, will drop a wafer into the out-stretched hands of each communicant.
– Pastor, wearing gloves, will hand an individual cup (holding it from the top) into the out-stretched hand of each communicant (grabbing it from below).
– After being excused from the rail, the communicants will place the used individual cups directly into a trash basket located along the wall near the end of the communion rail.
– The chalice (or common cup) will not be used in worship for the time being.
Along with all that, there will be some extra changes to our regular Sunday morning gatherings. While these may not be natural or comfortable, we encourage everyone to mindfully do their best to comply.
– Please use the double doors under the portico (instead of the Fellowship Hall doors) to enter the church. We’d like people to refrain from using the Fellowship Hall, hallway, or kitchen.
– People are encouraged not to gather in the narthex (to socialize) before the worship service, but instead to walk straight into the sanctuary and find their seats. Our illustrious James Feddeck will be sure to have pre-service music that helps us to prepare our hearts for worship.
– Alternating pews in the sanctuary will be roped off. Households are encouraged to spread out throughout the sanctuary to maintain social distancing.
– As much as the weather will allow, we will be opening all the doors and windows before, during, and after the service to allow for healthy air-movement. Please dress accordingly.
– Wearing masks will be supported, but not required.
– Children’s Church will be held during worship at the usual time (after the Children’s Message). Parents (or someone from the same household) will be responsible for teaching their children in separate Sunday School rooms. All teaching materials and supplies will be provided.
– After the service Pastor will greet people outside under the portico. People are encouraged NOT to stay and fellowship inside in the Fellowship Hall, but instead to do so outside in the open air, where it will also be easier to maintain social distancing for all involved.
While these guidelines apply to those attending Sunday morning worship, there are other concerns and people to be considered:
– As is always the case, all people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should stay home. If anyone in your house has a fever, please stay home.
– People who are at a high-risk for getting COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home from Sunday worship. According to the Lorain County Public Health, this would include anyone 65 years or older; anyone with chronic lung disease, asthma, a serious heart condition, a compromised immune system, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or liver disease.
– The daily family devotions and Sunday sermon videos sent out (by email or mail) will continue for the time being.
– Starting on June 17th Pastor will offer private communion at church on Wednesdays from 1-2:30 pm and 7-8 pm. These short (15 minute) services are especially designed for those in the high-risk group. It would be appreciated if people would contact Pastor ahead of time to “reserve” a time, but “drop-ins” are also welcome.
– The church will be cleaned twice a week, with a heavy emphasis being placed on disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched.
I realize that some of these changes are certainly not ideal. We’d all prefer to get back to “normal” and have things the way we are comfortable with. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is still alive and lurking within Ohio and so we must try to balance our desire to worship God freely as a community of believers with our desire to seek to protect ourselves and our fellow believers (and their families) from possible harm. So this is certainly a compromise – which may not make everyone happy, but will hopefully allow people the opportunity to worship God together in a safe setting. Remember, this is only temporary. We continue to pray that our great and powerful God would bring relief from this pandemic and protection for the vulnerable. The blessing before us is the opportunity to once again offer those prayers while joined together in God’s house – even as He strengthens us with His Word, Spirit, Sacrament, and shared fellowship.
PS Feel free to contact me if you’d struggling with what to do or how to decide about when to return to worship. I’m happy to help listen and shepherd.
Our Vision Statement at Grace is “Grace Lutheran Church is a family united by faith in Christ, which seeks to grow in that faith and to share it with others.”
We have a beautiful mural located in our church narthex to help visualize this – a tree, with a variety of leaves that are events and ways in which we are growing and becoming and caring through Christ.
Worship is every Sunday at 10:00 am
Adult Bible Class is held on Sunday mornings after worship (11:40 am).
310 West Lorain Street, Oberlin, OH 44074 440-775-3271