While our worship services in the sanctuary will be much the same as they’ve been in the past, we’ll all be experiencing some new procedures and safety measures. Here’s what to expect when you come to worship at Hope.
- Entry: Please use the main narthex entrance doors, off the circle drive. Kindly use the hand sanitizer stations on your way into church, or wash your hands in the restroom.
- Safety: We ask you to remain home if you have had close contact in the last 14 days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, if any health department or health care provider has advised you to quarantine, or if you have any of these symptoms: fever, chills, shortness of breath, new cough, new loss of taste or smell.
- Pew Seating: To allow for social distancing, we’ll be using only every other pew. Family sections will be reserved for families of 4 or more. Other sections will be reserved for groups of 1-3 people, using the ends of the pews only for seating, with 6 feet marked off as unavailable in the middle of the pews.
- Other Seating: To provide needed capacity, additional chairs will be available in the back of the church, in the balcony, and (for the adventurous) in the handbell and praise team areas. Seats in the cry room and ushers room will be held for those with medical needs.
- Shared Contacts: We’re asking everyone to be mindful of reducing shared contacts, as much as possible. We’ll forego handshakes and hugs while at church, and will have the order of service on the screens, instead of in a paper bulletin (Sunday order of service can be printed out at home, or viewed on your phone, from the church website (hopelutheranwf.org/worship-resources). Offerings will be gathered at the exit doors, rather than by passing the offering plates. An easy online check-in system will replace the blue welcome booklets. Doors will be propped open as much as possible, and we ask you to touch as few surfaces as possible.
- Masks: A state-wide executive order now requires all people to wear face coverings in public settings, and churches are not exempt from this ruling. But here’s why we really want you to wear masks while at worship. Many members of our congregation, young and old, have underlying health conditions, or live with family members who are in at-risk categories. We need to protect them from potential spread of the coronavirus, and show love and concern for every member of our church. It’s possible for any of us to be carrying the virus without knowing it, and face coverings go a long way to prevent the spread. Our ministry staff is going to be connecting with many weekend worshippers, but also will be connecting with the homebound and those unable to be coming to church during the pandemic. For some, wearing a mask is a sacrificial step, but we followers of Christ should know a thing or two about the power of sacrifices, right? Those with medical or behavioral conditions, and those under 5 years of age, are not expected to wear masks.
- Singing: Due to concerns about droplets and aerosolized particles being expelled forcefully while singing, we’ll temporarily reduce congregational singing during the services. Singing in church is, for many of us, an exceptionally-meaningful part of worship. We sing not for our own pleasure or value, though, but to give God glory and honor; and that won’t be affected if you’re singing while wearing a mask.
- Communion: We’ll be celebrating the Sacrament of the Altar at all weekend services, as is our custom at Hope. Communion will be served in a continuous line fashion, instead of using the altar rail. Individual cups only will be used, and not the common cup (chalice). Those preparing and serving the Communion elements will be wearing masks and gloves. If you have special concerns about Communion distribution, please call the church office.
- Gathering: We ask you to maintain social distancing while visiting with others at church. Kindly use the outdoor areas for conversations before and after the service, rather than the narthex and sanctuary.
- Children’s Worship: Children will remain with their parents for the service, instead of coming to the front for the Children’s Message. Children ages 3-4th grade are invited to Children’s Church during the sermon. Nursery care will temporarily remain closed.
- Prayer Requests: As in recent weeks, prayer requests submitted in advance via the church website (hopelutheranwf.org/worship-resources) will be read during the service.
Coming to church may not feel quite normal at first, with all of these little changes. Please keep in mind, though, that the most important and vital things about worship are not changing.
- Sinners in need of grace come before the Lord.
- The Spirit of God works repentance and faith in our hearts.
- Sins are confessed, and absolution is pronounced.
- The Word of the Lord is read and preached.
- The Sacraments are offered.
- The congregation re-focuses on its mission.
- God himself equips the people of the church for ministry.
- The members of Hope are lifted up by mutual consolation and prayer.
The style of our worship services may feel different in the coming weeks, in a variety of ways, but the substance remains unchanged. Thanks be to God!