To maintain a relatively safe environment for public worship, the following protocols will be voluntarily followed by our guests and members of St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church:
Prior to attending public services: 1. If you are in a high-risk category because of underlying health conditions or advanced age (65+), do not feel compelled to attend public worship services until you feel comfortable with the potential health risk. Guard your health. Recorded services will continue to be available on our congregational website (www.stpaulsfulda.org) and our congregation’s Facebook page. Family services of Holy Communion will continue to be offered by appointment. If you are in any of the risk categories and still wish to attend services, you are certainly welcome to do so, being aware of the potential risks which may be involved. 2. You are urged to stay home if you are ill in other ways or showing symptoms of COVID-19. Likewise, if someone in your household is ill or has COVID-19, please worship alternatively than in person at the public worship service for the time being. 3. Wash your hands often. Frequent and thorough hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and other diseases. 4. These protocols will be available in the narthex in printed form for distribution. Social distancing guidelines will also be posted in the narthex. 5. If you have a mask and wish to wear it while attending Sunday services, you are welcome to do so. Others will be wearing masks, so yours will not be out of place. If you do not wish to wear a mask, you are free to refrain from wearing one. Please be considerate of your neighbor’s wishes to wear/not wear a mask. Our respectful and loving care for one another allows freedom in this matter. 6. Ventilation will be increased as much as possible, opening windows and doors, as weather permits.
Arriving for Service: 1. Please avoid, as much as possible, direct physical contact with others. If you would like to visit before or after worship services, please do so outside while observing social distancing guidelines. 2. Assuming we can continue to obtain it, there will be hand sanitizer at the entrances to the building. (Donations are welcome). 3. The entrance doors from the parking lot will be propped open until service begins in order to enable touchless entry. 4. Rather than taking an offering during the service, an offering plate will be available at the door for your gift to the Lord upon entry or exit. 5. We will not exceed 1/4 of the seating capacity of the sanctuary (430 / 4 = 108 persons) 6. Please find a seat by filling the pews front-to-back in order to preserve social distancing guidelines in the aisles.
During the Service: 1. Initially, because of the research on the projection of oral aerosols, we will not offer congregational singing. You may choose to hum (closed mouth) instead. Pre-recorded music and/or solo music and instrumental music will be provided. 2. One-way traffic indicators will be placed in the church entry way and sanctuary. In order to safely distance yourself from others, please keep in mind the following:
Please maintain a minimum of a 6-foot distance between yourself and others not in your household.
Please sit only where there is a cushion and a bulletin on the seat in the pew. Bulletins will be placed in pre-spaced locations. Additional bulletins will also be available.
When you arrive, please don’t wait for loved ones in the narthex/entryway but proceed into the sanctuary and find a place for your family to sit.
Sanctuary seating will be by family groups who compose a household (maintaining 6-foot distancing between groups), not to exceed 1/4 of the sanctuary seating capacity.
4. The theology of the Lord’s Supper will continue to be the same, but the practice will be altered for the present.
Those wishing to receive the Lord’s Supper will be invited to socially-distance by family group (six feet apart) in a continual line from the outside aisle to the front of the chancel.
The consecrated bread will be placed in the hand only (not orally given) at this time and the consecrated wine will be available in both the individual cups and the common cup. The Centers for Disease Control and other clinical studies concluded that the risk of spreading disease cannot be excluded but is extremely low. (https://www.ntnl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Common-Cup-CDC.pdf)
Those not confirmed in the LCMS but wishing to receive a blessing may come forward with arms crossed but will the sign of the cross will not be made on their forehead.
There will be no hymns sung during distribution of the Sacrament.
The dismissal blessing will be given after all who desire to do so have communed.
5. The common doxology due to its brevity and familiarity may be sung (observing social distancing) in the parking lot prior to departure from the church.
After the Service: 1. Following the worship service, if you wish to visit with others, you are certainly welcome to do so outside while observing appropriate social distancing (at least 6 feet). 2. Please do not shake hands, hug, or touch people to greet them if they are not within your household. 3. Pastor will not be greeting or dismissing with the shaking of hands.
Some things we will not be able to resume right away. We will, for the time being, refrain from having greeters, fellowship after worship services, Sunday School, choir practice, Sunday Bible Study and children’s sermons. The consumption of food and beverages beyond what is necessary for a planned service or ritual has also been initially prohibited. As difficult as it is to not do these things, it would be hard to have these activities and limit physical distance from one another.
In addition to offering public worship services: 1. We will continue to offer recorded services. 2. We will continue to offer family communion services by appointment. 3. You are encouraged to continue to develop and strengthen your personal devotional and prayer life and that of your immediate household using online, TV, and print resources. 4. Please continue to pray for one another, for our congregation, and for your pastor. 5. Please also pray for our governor, our medical personnel, and for our community.
We encourage each person to respect the Christian liberty of others: please refrain from forming opinions about others in terms of whether or not they attend in-person services or whether or not they wear a face mask. The above are precautions that have been provided as best practices at this time. Let us rejoice, for we once again have the joy that comes from gathering together with one another to receive the forgiveness of sins personally and directly through the Word and Sacrament ministry of Christ’s Church!