As a member of the Consistory, I just wanted to talk a little about our current situation regarding our Church services.  This past six months or so have been some of the most challenging and difficult times I can ever remember.  All of us have had to do things we didn’t want to.  We’ve had to deal with a lot of changes, at work, at home and here at the Church too.  The Consistory has spent countless hours discussing the situation and trying to find solutions that we all can live with.  We have been told so many different things, but sometimes it is hard to separate the truth from that which is not true.   Even Doctors and Scientists don’t know all they need to know about this virus.

There are many opinions about how the Church needs to function.  Some want the Church to be the same as it was a year ago.  Others are ok with what we are currently doing, and some don’t feel it’s safe to be in Church at all.  It is difficult to find the middle ground.  We want Church to be as close to what it was before this happened as possible, and still be a safe place for all of us to worship.

In August, we invited Darrell Hendrickson from the County Health Center to be at our Consistory meeting.   We discussed many things, but most importantly what we need to do to continue to meet together and still be safe.  He encouraged us to wear masks, to social distance, to provide hand sanitizer, and not to sing in Church.  The virus is transmitted through aerosols that are emitted from the mouth and the nose.  When you sing, your lungs force more air out and along with that air are the aerosols or droplits that can contain the virus.  This is why we have praise singers at the front of the Church instead of having everyone sing.

I want you to know, we haven’t made any of our decisions lightly and the importance of keeping everyone safe ranks high on our list.  We want this to be a safe place for everyone to worship.  This place is called a sanctuary.   The word sanctuary means a place of refuge, or a place of safety.  We want this sanctuary to be a safe place where we all can come and find the peace of Christ and for a few moments put the chaos of world events and issues out of our minds.

Going forward we are meeting with both the Adult and Kids Choir directors about how we can bring them back in a safe manor, or if we can bring them back in a safe manor.  We are working to bring back ROK and Wednesday Night meals.  We are trying to think of better ways to do everything.   We know none of this has been perfect and probably won’t be any time soon, but we are trying.

So for now we encourage you to wear a mask from the doorway to your seat, and at that point you may remove it if you like.  We encourage you not to sing, but rather to listen to the praise singers and enjoy their voices.   If not singing distracts you from being able to focus on worship, we kindly ask you to wear a mask while singing.  It won’t be comfortable and it won’t be easy, but it does give a level of safety.  We ask that when the service is over that you wear your mask as you leave until you get outside.

We are going to put a stack of bibles at the back of the church if you need a bible for the service you can take one to the pew with you, but when Church is over we ask that you leave the Bible in the pew so we can make sure it is cleaned for the next week.  A better solution might be for you to bring your own personal Bible with you to worship.  We have had Beth and Doug do a lot of extra cleaning during this time and we appreciate their extra efforts.  And in addition to that the ushers and the elevator person clean the various touchpoints around the Church to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus through something you might touch.

The tape and the ropes on the pews are there for a reason.  It is our attempt to social distance during worship.  We prefer that you do not remove them and sit only in the open pews.  We won’t be placing a barrier down the middle of the open pews to separate one end from another.  If you find yourself getting close to someone else sitting in the same open pew, please ask that person if they are comfortable with you sitting near them.  That’s really all we are asking.

I want to emphasize one thing.  We have no power to enforce these recommendations.   We take no joy in trying to set Covid guidelines for worship.  The things we are requesting you do are encouragements.  But I do want to also say this.   We are a Church.  We are brothers and sisters in Christ—we are a family.   We claim to be Christians, and because we make that claim, we are commanded by Christ himself to love one another.  Love the person who sits in front of you, behind you, or beside you enough to give them a safe place to be… Most likely, you and I do not know what that person’s feelings are on how close they want to be to someone not in their household.  All we’re really asking is to be kind, considerate and caring for each other.   None of us enjoy this situation.   None of us want to do the things we are having to do.  But we are in this together, and we will get through this together.

One last suggestion.  Pray for those who have lost loved ones to Covid, pray for those who have it now, pray for our kids, for our schools, and our teachers and pray that someday soon this will be over, and please pray for your Church family and your Consistory and Pastor Russ and the decisions we make.  We need all the help we can get.