May 28, 2020
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 9:00 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 be attempting to livestream our 10:30 service for those who can’t make it to service or are uncomfortable attending. This is our first shot at it, and details as to how to log on to it will follow.
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 limited space available in the shade, and would ask that those places be reserved for those who are more frail or sensitive to the sun. 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.
Unfortunately, there will not be any children’s ministry or nursery at this time. 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 between the services and with every bathroom usage. At this point we think it’s just better to keep us all together.
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.
If you are attending the early service, please be mindful that others will be arriving for the later service, so your parking space may be needed for them. For extended fellowship, please plan on meeting elsewhere after the service in order to keep the services flowing smoothly.
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! Please also know, the pastors, elders, and deacons will be meeting again on Tuesday evening to assess everything and fine tune our services to make sure we address any holes we discover. This is a fluid situation and we are going to be adapting to make sure things are as safe and comfortable for you. Also, after 21 days, state health officials will be meeting with county health officials to assess the impact of these limits. If things are going well we may see some of these guidelines loosened. So again, this is just for a season.
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 made a reservation? (Arrive at least 15 minutes before service start)
- 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 this 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