April 1, 2021 update
Due to a continued increase in the infection rates, we will NOT be resuming in-person indoor worship on April 11 as previously announced. We will continue to monitor the situation and hope to re-gather soon.
Weather Permitting, outdoor worship on Easter Sunday will happen.
March 17, 2020
Update on Plans for In-Person Worship
Dear Beloved in Christ,
Earlier this month, Gov. Lamont announced that effective March 19, 2021, restrictions would be lifted on the number of people who may gather in-person. Infection rates had been going down, and the number of people getting vaccinated continues to climb.
So, what does this mean for the possibility of in-person worship at the Lordship Community Church? Over the past few weeks, the leadership of the church began discussing plans for a potential re-gathering date. Out of this discussion came the commitment to continue to rely on the rates of infection and community spread to guide our decisions. We are encouraged by the data, but also know that we have hit a plateau and the infection rate is still higher than it was last fall.
That being said, we are making plans for some in-person worship opportunities in the near future.
On Sunday, April 4, we will gather (weather permitting) outdoors on the front lawn of the church for our Easter Sunday Festival Worship. Bring your own chairs or something to sit on, bring a blanket to wrap up in, and we’ll gather (distanced and masked) for a celebration of the most important story of our faith – Jesus Lives! We will be celebrating Holy Communion (individually pre-packaged bread and juice), and there will be singing and dancing!
Because we are outside, we can accommodate a larger crowd, so this is one of those weekends where you are encouraged to invite your friends and neighbors to celebrate with us. After the year we have had, we believe that Easter is going to be a fresh start for a lot of people.
If the weather does not cooperate, we will cancel the in-person component of worship and live-stream from the sanctuary like we have been doing. You can get all the information on our Easter Sunday worship at http://thelordshipchurch.org/easter.
Beginning Sunday, April 11, 2021
If the infection rates and rate of community spread continue to decline, and if Stratford is no longer in the RED (based on the data at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker) we will resume in-person worship in the sanctuary on April 11.
Even though we are allowed to be at 100% capacity, we still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing. This effectively reduces our capacity to 45 people in worship. We will continue to follow the guidelines we practiced last fall (you can find them at https://thelordshipchurch.org/covid/).
All of our worship gatherings will be live-streamed.
We anticipate that we will slowly be able to increase capacity over the course of the spring and summer, and hope that by the fall we will be able to bring back singing and the choir.
To use a basketball metaphor, we are in the 4th quarter. The game is not over, but the end is in sight. We are close, but not quite there yet. We need to continue to be cautious, wearing our masks, practicing distancing, and getting vaccinated when it is our turn.
I am looking forward to seeing you in person very soon.
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 or anyone in your household have any symptoms of any illness or have been sick in the last 14 days.
If you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
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 will shorten the service to approximately half an hour.
We will be refraining from congregational singing. We will have music for reflection and meditation.
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.
Indoor Worship Guidelines
Here are some specific practices we will be using at our indoor worship gatherings:
Capacity is limited to no more than 45 people in order to safely maintain physical distancing. Once we have reached capacity, we will not be able to allow any more people into the church.
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 since March. Due to logistical reasons once we are back in the sanctuary we will be moving away from the Zoom platform for worship. 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 or have been sick in the last 14 days, please stay home. If you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, please do not attend. If you have traveled to any of the states requiring self-quarantine in the past 14 days, please stay home.
If you are 65 years old or over, if you are immunocompromised, or if you are at risk in some way for complications from the virus, we fully understand if you would prefer to stay home and watch the service online. Please do not feel pressure to return until you are ready.
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 who attends worship, even when we are outdoors.
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.
Why can’t we sing? Music is such an important part of worship.
This is hard, and we know it. Like many of you, I (Pastor Jeff) love to sing in worship. Much of how we worship is through music. Until there is a widely available vaccine, we will be refraining from choral and congregational singing. The act of singing, even with masks on, causes respiratory droplets to be expelled from your mouth with such force that they can travel up to twenty feet and linger in the air for hours.
We will be having music, and we will be putting the words to the music in the bulletins. We ask that you meditate or hum to the music.
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).
How will we be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion?
What about Coffee Hour?
As a way to stay connected, even when we cannot physically be together in close proximity, we will be holding Virtual Coffee Hours on Zoom each Tuesday from 7:00-7:30 PM. We will begin each week with the Sacrament of Communion from our own homes.
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. If the state moves back to Phase Two or One in its re-opening plan, or if the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ makes the recommendation to suspend in-person worship again, we will go online-only again.
Another metric we are following is the town by town map at https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker. If Stratford is classified as “RED,” we will move back to online-only worship until conditions improve back to Yellow for two weeks in a row.