To our dear brothers and sisters at Grace Church,
Praise God! We are going to be worshipping together this Sunday!
As alluded to earlier in the week, we received Governor Newsom’s updated orders which allow churches to resume in-person gatherings. The guidelines are many as our elected officials want to ensure church leaders are providing the safest environment possible, and the pastors, elders, and deacons have been meeting and talking in order to comply and create just such an environment.
With that in mind, we have decided that the easiest way to comply and provide the safest possible environment is for us to meet outside for one service at 10:00 AM. We feel very blessed to have a property that allows us to do so quite easily, and so even though there are things about it that are challenging, we feel blessed to be able to worship in this space.
Prior to arrival, we ask that you do a self-screening exam of yourself and your household, taking your temperatures and asking if anyone has a sore throat or cough or has been around anyone who has Covid. If so, please stay home. Also, if you are over 65 years of age or in a high-risk category, it is recommended by health officials that you take extra precautions and perhaps stay home as well. We will livestream our service for those who can’t make it to service or are uncomfortable attending. Likewise, we will provide “drive in” parking spots along the wall of our patio so you can listen from inside your car.
Check-in for Worship Service
For those who do attend, we will be having check-ins for the service. We will need you to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the service for check-in. Please be mindful when parking to give proper social distancing if others are exiting their cars next to you. All check-ins will take place in the upper entrance near the handicapped parking. The stairs will be blocked off and should not be used except as an exit to help control contact. The check-in will consist of pre-screened, gloved, and masked deacons asking if you have done an assessment, handing out pre-packaged Communion elements for your household members, and then escorting you to a spot in our courtyard/patio area, ensuring you set up your space in a place with proper social distancing. We will have plenty of cover to provide shade or shelter from wet weather. If you need any assistance with getting your seating from your car to your space, there will be gloved and masked deacons to assist you. Will also have masks available for anyone desiring one, though per the governor’s orders they are not required.
The Worship Service
The worship service will be somewhat abbreviated, as our desire is to keep the entire service under one and a half hours. We will not be able to project any of the songs or catechisms or creeds as we will be outdoors. We also will not be providing handouts in accordance with the guidelines we have received. The bulletin/liturgy, along with all of the songs and the questions and answers to the Heidelberg Catechism and the Nicene Creed will be emailed via our Google Group. You can print them out in advance, or just read them off of your phone. But please do plan in advance so that you can participate in the service. With that in mind, no offering will be collected, but there will be offering boxes near the entrance where you can place your giving. You can also continue to give by mailing in your check or online through our website.
As mentioned above, pre-packaged Communion elements will be given out during check-in. However, there is not a gluten-free option, so if you are gluten-free, please bring your own cracker/wafer and take it in lieu of the one in the pre-packaged elements. The juice is fine for all, as there was no option for wine.
We currently have Sunday school provided for the nursery and Pre K/K classes. All teachers and assistants are required to wear a mask or face shield, and children over the age of two are strongly encouraged to wear a mask as well. In order for us to provide this we would need to ensure that proper social distancing could be maintained between all the kids, and that disinfecting take place each week after the service concludes.
Lastly, we would ask that you please use the restroom prior to leaving your home. We will have our restrooms open, but would prefer them to be used only in an emergency as they can only be used by one person at a time and we have to disinfect them between each user. There will be a bathroom attendant at the men’s and women’s restrooms to monitor them and disinfect after each user.
I am sure we all have our own convictions and comfort levels when it comes to social interaction in this new Covid-19 world we live in, but we would ask that before and after the service you refrain from shaking hands or hugging, and are mindful of social distancing recommendations. These are the guidelines we have been given, and we feel it is important to honor them. For extended fellowship, please plan on meeting elsewhere after the service.
In conclusion, please do know this is a new thing for all of us and so we expect some bumps in the road, which we are completely fine with. We aren’t out for perfection, but are just blessed to be meeting together!
I know this is a lot, and there are a number of things to consider, so below is a brief checklist to help you be ready for church on Sunday:
- Have I done a health assessment for myself and my household?
- Do I have chairs or blankets to sit on?
- Did I print out or download on my phone the bulletin with Heidelberg Catechism and Nicene Creed, along with the song sheets?
- If I am gluten-free, do I have a gluten-free cracker?
- Have I (and my kids) used the restroom?
Once again, we are grateful to be meeting together for worship each Sunday, and we look so forward to seeing each of you in the flesh!
In the Love of Christ our Lord,
Your Pastors and Elders