To register for in-person worship on December 6 click the "eventbrite" button. Anyone joining in-person worship must be willing to abide by the precautions listed below.
Worship with us on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday!
Worship for Sunday,
November 29, 2020
1st Sunday of Advent ==>
Bulletin and hymn for Sunday, November 29, 10:30 a.m. worship.
Information below about our in-person worship beginning November 1, 2020
Please read all the information below so that you know not only what steps we’re taking, but why!
Steps We’re Taking:
On November 1st in person worship with limited capacity will begin again under the procedures and safety precautions listed below. Reservations must be made to attend worship. The process for making a reservation is detailed below.
Those who feel comfortable attending in-person worship must make a reservation. You may use the "eventbrite" link at the top of this webpage. You will need to make a reservation each week you wish to attend. Reservations must be made by 2pm on the Thursday prior to worship. This allows time for a session member to put together a seating plan.
Also on November 1st, pre-established small groups of the church will be permitted to meet in the Fellowship Hall under the safety precautions listed below. Pre-established small groups include all groups that were already formed and meeting either at the church or elsewhere. The church is not available for family gatherings or for outside groups.
What to Expect in Worship:
Our service will begin at 10:30. Please do not arrive before 10:15
Congregants will enter and exit thru the front door of the sanctuary unless using handicapped parking at the rear of the church. All exits are available in the event of an emergency.
Ushers will seat congregants before the service and dismiss them at the end of the service.
20% Capacity with proper social distancing allows us to have 35-45 individuals present per service including those who are leading worship.
Masks, covering the mouth and nose, should be worn at all times. Face shields may be worn instead of masks. We will have masks available and a small number of face shields will be available. If you do not feel you can join us wearing a mask or face shield we respectfully ask that you refrain from joining in-person worship.
Please maintain Social Distancing (6 feet or more apart).
There will be no singing at services. We understand that singing is, under normal circumstances, a vital part of worship. However, we feel that in order to conduct worship as safely as possible for as many people as possible, best practices indicate singing should not occur. There will be recorded hymns for listening.
Speaking as part of the service is allowed.
The Nursery will not be available nor will there be a Children’s Gathering.
Offering Plate(s) will be available before and after the service.
Bulletins will be provided at your seat.
Hand sanitizer will be available. Congregants are encouraged to use it before and after the service.
Water fountains will be unavailable for use. Feel free to bring your own as needed.
Restrooms are available.
On the days we celebrate communion, a small bottle of water and a pre-packaged cracker will be provided upon entering worship. Congregants are encouraged to bring their own juice boxes and/ or bread if they wish. Congregants may unmask when partaking of the elements but will be expected to re-mask immediately. Congregants are asked to take any wrappings or packaging home with them.
Our heat is radiated heat and not forced hot air so it will be used. We will leave doors open for as much fresh air as possible, acknowledging that this gets more difficult the colder it gets outside.
Cleaning will happen weekly with high touch surfaces being wiped down with appropriate cleaning agents following manufacturer recommendations. Pew surfaces will be cleaned and polished as normal when needed but will not be wiped down more than normal, nor with harsh chemicals. Our understanding from reading CDC recommendations is that the virus doesn’t linger on surfaces for as long as originally thought and that 7 days’ time in between services will be sufficient to kill off any virus left behind.
Why We’re Taking These Steps:
When asked how Christians should respond to the black plague when it hit Martin Luther’s own town of Wittenberg, he wrote:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.
Luther’s faith was not magical thinking. It was not a “God will protect me and I can do whatever I want” faith. Nor was it fatalistic, as in an “if God wants me to get Covid-19, I will no matter what” faith. It’s an “I don’t do anything that will work against me or those around us unless I am responding to the needs of others” faith. Luther sought to do whatever he could to minimize risk but still respond appropriately to the needs of his community.
As session discussed anew the question of holding in-person worship, we framed our conversation with this question, “When is caring staying away and when is caring being together?” We acknowledged that we’d been in a time when we felt caring meant staying away. Now with the pandemic continuing for such a long period of time, we recognize we’re in a time when caring means beginning to gather as safely as possible for as many as possible including our most vulnerable, and often most isolated members, as well as those leading worship. With the precautions stated above we hope we have accomplished just that.
We must acknowledge that we do not gather without risk and anyone who is not comfortable doing so should not feel pressured in any way to join in-person worship. Rest assured that we will continue to livestream worship, letters with liturgy and sermons will continue to go out to our members who don’t have internet, and family worship will continue to be sent to our families with young children. We also ask for grace and understanding as we, the session, continue to figure out best practices. We also ask for understanding should we feel the need to change course again depending on the situation in our area as the weather turns colder. Please be in prayer for the congregation and our leaders as we take these next steps for worship during this difficult time!
Pastor Kim on behalf of the Session of Middle Spring PCUSA
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