A message from Teresa Cochran and Pastor Steve
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Congregation Council had its monthly meeting on November 17, 2020, and continued its ongoing discussion regarding the practices and safety of the congregation pertaining to the pandemic. In light of concerns for the ongoing increase in number of COVID-19 infections, out of consideration for and in love for our membership, the following decision has been made:
- The State of Ohio updates its alert map (color coded) on Thursdays. Currently, Washington County is orange, and if it remains orange or yellow, we will continue with our current guidelines for in-person worship. In the event that Washington County turns red, in-person worship will be temporarily suspended for at least two weeks (Sundays).
- Once Washington County returns to orange or yellow, we will return to in-person worship. Unfortunately, this will require some close monitoring of the situation and is subject to some uncertainty.
- In the event that worship is temporarily suspended, notification will be provided by the following means: email, the church website, facebook, and a note posted on the church doors. Please continue to monitor these for updated information.
We encourage everyone to keep their hopes up, keep praying, and stay safe.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Teresa Cochran at Teresa.Cochran1@gmail.com.
Teresa Cochran and Pastor Steve
Guidelines for Return to In-Person Worship at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
In-person worship services will resume on Sunday, June 28, 2020. As before, there will be a Service of the Word offered at 8:15 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall, and a Liturgical Service (with some modifications) offered at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary.
Out of love for one another and for our community, the Congregation Council has developed the following guidelines for return to in-person worship, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other sources.
- According to the CDC, gatherings of any kind, including religious gatherings, present a risk for increasing spread of COVID-19 during this Public Health Emergency. Everyone must use their own judgment in deciding whether to return to religious gatherings. The CDC continues to identify people 65 years and older, and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions, as being at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Individuals, whether or not they are in a higher-risk category, may be uncomfortable gathering in person. For those who choose not to attend in-person worship, the services will be recorded and made available online for viewing, and should be available on Sunday evenings. Worship materials will continue to be sent in written format for those who choose not to attend in-person worship services.
- Please stay at home if you are sick, or have been exposed to someone with coronavirus within the last 14 days.
- Everyone should use hand sanitizer or wash their hands upon entering the building. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dispensers of hand sanitizer have been placed throughout the building, including locations inside the primary entrances.
- Face coverings (masks) are required. According to the CDC, face coverings are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Individuals are encouraged to bring their own masks, however, masks will be available upon entry for those who did not bring one. The CDC advises that cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, and anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
- Please cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed.
- According to the CDC, limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you – or they – have no symptoms. Please make every effort to stay at least 6 feet away from other people at all times. For the 8:15 a.m. service, chairs will be spaced to maintain social distancing of 6 feet. For the 10:30 a.m. service, the pews have been marked with seating areas appropriate for maintaining social distancing of 6 feet. Only members of the same household should sit closer than 6 feet.
- Weather permitting, entrance doors may be propped open to minimize the necessity for touching door handles.
- Greeters are expected to practice social distancing (no shaking hands). Please consider methods of greeting that can be done from a distance, such as a smile, a wave, and/or words of encouragement.
- Bulletins will be placed in the assigned seating areas.
- To minimize the number of people in the chancel, acolytes will not be assisting in the services at this time. In the event of more than one worship assistant, one assistant may be asked to be seated in the front pew rather than the chancel during the service, in order to maintain proper social distancing.
- For the time being, hymnals will not be used and have been removed from the pews.
- Pew pads will not be used and have been removed from the pews.
- For the time being, a separate children’s church will not be offered.
- Offering plates will not be passed through the pews. Tithes and offerings may be placed in a collection plate. For the 8:15 a.m. service, this practice has already been in place. For the 10:30 a.m. service, the collection plate(s) will be located in the front and back of the sanctuary.
- The manner of offering Holy Communion may be modified as determined by the Worship and Music Committee and the Pastor. Please follow any instructions provided by the Pastor and the ushers in connection with the offering of Holy Communion.
- The order and content of the service may be adjusted for the conditions as determined by the Worship and Music Committee and the Pastor.
- Singing together, even from a distance, is one of the riskiest behaviors due to the spread of aerosol and droplets that can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air. A cloth mask is unlikely to protect your or your neighbor. As a result, the singing of hymns and the liturgy may be adjusted for the conditions as determined by the Worship and Music Committee and the Pastor.
- After the 10:30 a.m. service, attendees will be dismissed from closest to furthest from the exits, and are asked to maintain social distancing of 6 feet while exiting.
- Please do not congregate outside the exits, so that others can maintain social distancing while exiting the building.
- The worship spaces will be sanitized at least weekly.
- For the foreseeable future, food and drink will not be available in the Holy Grounds area, and the monthly potluck will not yet resume.
- At this time, the drinking fountain will not be operational. Some bottled water will be made available, and members may bring their own water from home if desired.
- The air conditioning system has been inspected and approved for operation.
Our aim in developing these guidelines is to err on the side of love for our neighbors, and to maintain the physical and spiritual health of our members and community in these uncertain times. It is our hope that together, we can remain patient and flexible as we adapt to these changes. Information about the spread of coronavirus continues to emerge. These guidelines are subject to revision as recommendations for minimizing the risk of the spread of disease may change over time. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these guidelines, please contact Teresa Cochran, or any member of the Congregation Council.
Signed: Teresa Cochran
Date: June 23, 2020
The Quilters group will be meeting at 9:30am on Wednesday, July 10 in the Fellowship Hall. All interested are invited to help. Call Marian Russell with any questions (373-6023). We may also be meeting more than once in July and August. If you are interested in helping on an extra day, call Marian and she will give you a call when a date is set. Remember these quilts are collected all year and will be sent to Lutheran World Relief come October.
We will have the ‘blessing of the quilts’ in the fall. Please look for our display of items that will be sent from our church to Lutheran World Relief and a reception which will follow the service in the social hall.
Kits for LWR
We have collected enough items to make up 63 personal
care kits. Thank you to all who so graciously contributed to this mission.
Circle will resume in the fall.
Please join us if you would like to know more about circle or ask Pat Geisler (373-
2411). We would love to have you.
At circle meetings we also collect money that goes to three places. One is collected as a
Thankoffering and is sent to the State ELCA-LCW. Each month we collect an offering which we use to benefit the projects we undertake, which could be many, such as making and sending quilts for Lutheran World Relief or buying something that our church
might need. We also collect for Specific Ministries (both local and afar; but, mostly local — for instance the Red Cross or Eve, Inc.).