December 21, 2021
Winter 2021-2022 Update
Dear Beloved in Christ,
As we enter the third year of this global pandemic, we know many are tired and ready to just get back to normal. Unfortunately, that is not how viruses work. With the arrival of the omicron variant and the rise in number of cases in our community as a result, we wanted to give you an update on how we, as a church, are responding.
First things first:
We have purchased and installed two high powered, medical grade, air purifiers in the sanctuary. These purifiers are certified to remove the COVID-19 virus from the air, and can do a complete air exchange of our sanctuary every 30 minutes. This allows us to keep the windows closed during the winter.
In addition, based on anecdotal evidence and personal conversations with many of you, I (Pastor Jeff) can say that the vast majority of folks who regularly attend worship on Sunday mornings are vaccinated, including children over age 5. Many of our adults have also received their booster shots. (If you haven’t, please do get vaccinated and boosted)
Because of these factors, it is unlikely that we will need to move to fully online worship this winter. Of course, nothing is set in stone. There may be a situation that arises that will force us back online.
Second, we are committed to safety:
We are keenly aware that the pandemic is ongoing and we take our responsibility to protect others seriously. In the interest of loving our neighbors, we are dong everything we can to keep each other, especially the most vulnerable among us, as safe as possible. Masks are required for everyone while you are in the building, regardless of vaccination status. We ask that everyone sign in upon arrival for contact tracing purposes. If you are feeling ill at all, we request that you stay home and worship with us online.
You can see all of our guidelines below.
While we know that many are eager for a return to the pre-pandemic normal, it is important to remember a few things:
Our faith calls us to prioritize the needs and wellbeing of those who are most vulnerable. In this case, that means those who have not yet been able to be vaccinated: those who are too young or who live with a young child, those who are immunosuppressed or otherwise medically vulnerable, those who have not been able to gain access due to personal circumstances or societal inequity. We know that some of our siblings in faith in this congregation are in this category, and we will not leave them behind.
Our faith also calls us to practice radical hospitality and extravagant welcome. This means that we will not say that only those who are vaccinated may attend worship. We have to assume that there are some unvaccinated persons in our midst, and so we must follow the appropriate protocols to keep everyone safe, not only those who are vaccinated.
The pandemic is not over. Though there is hopeful progress, the rate of new cases remains high in our region.
Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote to the early church in Corinth, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:9). He was writing to guide the choices people made about how and what they would eat when they were gathered in community — in that case, whether it was allowable to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. I think his words are relevant for us, too. Like the Corinthians, we must pay attention to the impact our choices have on other members of the body of Christ, and especially on those who might be more vulnerable.
Of course, we will continue to live stream all of our worship gatherings, so if you aren’t feeling well, or if you aren’t ready to worship in-person, you can find our worship on Facebook, YouTube, and at http://thelordshipchurch.org/live.
We thank you for your continued flexibility in this very fluid situation. We will make it through, working together as we love our neighbors.
In Christ’s Service
The Rev. Jeff Lukens, Pastor
Sally Green, Moderator & Chair of Executive Board
COVID-19 Worship Guidelines
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the following information on how we will all do our best to meet as safely as possible out of love for one another.
For all worship gatherings:
Masks are required for everyone who attends worship, indoors or outdoors.
Please stay home if any of the following apply:
If you are feeling ill at all.
If you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 10 days and have not been tested.
We ask that you please sit together with your own household.
Children must remain with their parents at all times. Families should bring whatever they need to keep their kids busy and close by.
We will be taking attendance and asking everyone to fill out a digital form each week (easily done on your smartphone) to aid in contact tracing. Paper forms will be available for those without a smartphone.
We have resumed congregational singing, but ask that you sing quietly as to not propel particles through your masks.
We will email the bulletins out ahead of time as we have been doing, and we will have a small stack for self-pickup. Use the same rules as with food at coffee hour – you touch it, you take it.
We will not be passing the offering plate. We will have one available to drop your offering in or you may give online at https://thelordshipchurch.org/donate.
In order to limit access to the restrooms in the building, please use the restroom before you arrive. The restroom by the parlor will be available for emergencies. We will limit restroom access to only one person at a time.
Once worship has concluded, we ask that you make your way home immediately, taking care to physically distance yourself from others as you make your way back to your cars.
Outdoor Worship Guidelines
Here are some specific practices we will use at our outdoor worship gatherings:
We will be marking the lawn as a guide you can use for maintaining physical distancing between households.
Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.
Once you are seated for worship, and as long as you remain in your seat you may remove your mask. Masks will be required as you are gathering and leaving, and anytime you leave your seat.
Indoor Worship Guidelines
Here are some specific practices we will be using at our indoor worship gatherings:
We are continuing to mark off pews to aid in physical distancing. As rates of infection continue to drop, we anticipate removing these barriers, with the exception of the front pews.
Please enter through the front doors of the church. The back door by the parking lot will remain locked.
Please use the provided hand sanitizer as you enter the sanctuary.
Households are asked to sit together in the marked pews, and children must remain with their parents at all times.
We know that many in our church will wait a while before regathering for worship. Some may want to see how everyone adheres to the set guidelines before they feel safe returning. Others in the surrounding community will be observing how we do in protecting our community. Let’s show our community how well we take care of each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person worship yet?
Please do not feel pressure to return to our worship gatherings until you are ready. You know your situation best and we fully respect your decisions about gathering together.
Will worship still be live-streamed or recorded?
Yes. We will continue to live-stream and record our worship services as we have been doing. You will be able to watch worship on our website, and on YouTube and Facebook. No account is needed to watch worship on any of these platforms.
Who should stay home from worship?
If you or anyone in your household have any symptoms of any illness please stay home. If you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 10 days, please do not attend unless you have received a negative PCR test after 5 days.
Why are you taking attendance?
A detailed attendance will be taken at each worship gathering to aid in contact tracing, should someone in our community become infected with the coronavirus. This attendance will include the name, address, phone number, and email of every person. You will also be asked to certify that you are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19.
Each household will be asked to fill out one form each time they worship with us. It will be a form that you can easily fill out on your smartphone by scanning a QR code with your phone’s camera. Paper forms will be available for anyone without a smartphone.
Why are masks and physical distancing required?
The coronavirus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets traveling from one person to another. Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others around you. Masks are required for everyone while you are in the building, regardless of vaccination status.
Because of the way the virus spreads, please be sure to maintain physical distancing guidelines. Remain at least six feet apart from those outside your household.
I’m Vaccinated, why do I still need to wear a mask?
I am so glad you are vaccinated because the best way we are going to beat this virus is by getting everyone vaccinated. Unfortunately, not everyone has been vaccinated yet, nor is everyone eligible to be vaccinated. And with new variants emerging that may still cause infection in vaccinated people, we want to do everything we can to protect each other.
How can I give for the offering?
We will not be passing the offering plate. There will be an offering plate at the back of the sanctuary for you to place your offering in, or you may continue to give online (https://thelordshipchurch.org/donate) or via text message (475.800.8860).
Is there a chance we will have to cancel in-person worship and move all online again?
Yes. The situation continues to be very fluid and many factors could cause us to move online again, even for a brief time.
We will be continuing to monitor the situation in Stratford, Fairfield County, and the State of Connecticut, and if the situation warrants, we will move back to online-only worship.