Return to Worship – COVID-19 Guidelines
St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Monticello
May 29, 2020
Dear Member and Friends of St. Peter’s,
As members of the body of Christ, I pray Jesus has continued to fill you with his peace and the certainty of salvation and eternal life. The Apostle Paul lifts us with his words to the Colossians:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12,15-17).
I rejoice to know you have continued to grow in your faith through Jesus’ word proclaimed online and in your daily devotions. However, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1). During the COVID stay-at-home order, God’s people have longed to gather in the same space to spiritually feast on God’s Word and sacrament and join our voices in praise to God our Savior. While online worship has been a blessing for continued spiritual nourishment, it does not and cannot replace the social aspect of worship as a community of believers gathered in place and time.
We are moving toward that opportunity, but carefully with a plan in place and encouragement to all. The council has decided to resume public worship starting June 7th and 8th. We ask that you continue to look to one another’s needs and in love strive to encourage and build one another up. We also do not want you or anyone to feel pressure to come to worship until you feel comfortable. We will continue to offer online worship, although, since we will be recording the morning worship, the service may be put up later on Sunday afternoon.
Here is a summary of our plans, starting June 7th for Sunday and Monday worship following:
- Church will be regularly cleaned and sanitized, especially all the high touch areas.
- Hand sanitizer is available.
- In the worship area, every third pew will be open for seating in the worship service.
- Members and visitors are asked to practice social distancing – keeping at least 6 feet apart. Social distancing does not apply to those living under the same roof and care-givers.
- All services will be printed fully in the bulletin and on the screen for the service. We ask members to take their bulletin home with them after the service. Bulletins will not be reused.
- Offering plates will be at the door to the worship area for you to place your gifts.
- We will have doors wedged open to achieve as little touching as possible.
- If you desire to wear a mask, please do so. However, for singing portions of the service, we are recommending people wear their masks.
- The congregation will be dismissed pew by pew allowing for people to keep a respectable distance from one another. You are encouraged to visit outside but be conscious of your distancing.
- We encourage no handshaking, but an encouraging smile and wave as you greet one another.
Communion (The Lord’s Supper will be offered on the first three Sundays & Mondays following in June! June 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22).
- The elements of the Lord’s Supper will be consecrated as usual by the pastor and will be offered by way of continuous flow communion; setting aside kneeling and being next to one another. This will also keep from having to use the railings to go up to the altar.
- You will be invited to come up the outside rows keeping social distance from those not of your family.
- As you approach the pastor, please hold out your hand to receive a wafer. He will give you the wafer with the words: “The body of Christ given for you.” Following that, you will move to a table and take the individual cup place there and hear: “The blood of Christ shed for you.” Please place your empty cup in the basket and return to your seat. The pastor will come to those that are not able to come up for communion in their seat. After the entire assembly has received the Lord’s Supper, the dismissal and blessing will be spoken to all. We also understand if some are not ready to commune.
- The pastor and those assisting him will have a mask and will wash and sanitize before the distribution.
Private communion is still available for those that are not able to come yet or not comfortable receiving it in worship.
Members and visitors are urged to use common sense and practice the same precautions as with the cold and flu, which you have heard from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Wash hands your hands regularly.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well, have a temperature or are sick.
- Cover your cough in your elbow or handkerchief.
- If you start to feel ill during the service, please leave immediately.
- If you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, please stay home.
Exercise Christian love and consideration as best you can. May the peace of Jesus continue to fill you each day as you strive to live representing him.
- Wash hands your hands regularly.
- We want to encourage Christian freedom and love for one another to guide members – including those who are not ready to meet but wish to stay home. Continue to pray for each other and for our governing officials.
- Thank you to everyone that has helped in so many ways in church, outside church, with your time, your gifts and offerings. A special thank you to Noah, Naomi & Natalia Green for their work on the video services. It has been a great blessing to our church and worship. It is often in difficult times that the Lord grows us and helps the body of Christ shine.
- It is also a time that our weaknesses and fears show, but a time in which our Lord Jesus grows us, forgives us and guides us forward with our eyes focused on our Jesus ruling on his throne. He promises to be with us always and to use to us to do great things to his glory.
This document is for purposes only of outlining how our church plans to handle and maintain
social distancing practices for worship. Your pastor and church council will continue to monitor these protocols and make adjustments as appropriate. This has been put together using guidance from the CDC guidelines and MN state health guidelines. While we cannot safeguard against every germ and sickness in this sin-fallen world, we seek to conduct our lives and ministry in love for others – both soul and body.
Pastor Green and the St. Peter’s Church Council