May 19, 2021
In Person Worship Returns in June
Dear Beloved in Christ,
With the recent announcements from the CDC and the Governor, you may be wondering what this easing of restrictions might mean for our long-awaited return to in-person worship gatherings at Lordship Community Church. The Executive Board met this past Sunday and decided that we would resume in-person worship again in June.
We will continue to worship outside on the lawn the first Sunday of each month through September, so our return to the sanctuary will be on Sunday, June 13 at 9:30 am.
Masks and physical distancing will continue to be required when worshiping in the sanctuary until the infection rate in Stratford reaches “Gray,” (less than 5 cases per 100,000) and young children are able to be vaccinated.
In regards to outdoor worship, we have relaxed the mask requirements. 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.
You can see all of our guidelines below.
While we know that many are eager to return to worship in our beloved sanctuary, 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, not enough people have yet been vaccinated to reach herd immunity, and 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 ready to come back yet, that’s OK. You can find our worship on Facebook, YouTube, and at http://thelordshipchurch.org/live.
We are so excited to be coming back – and we hope you are, too. And we’re so grateful for your flexibility and willingness to take this journey one step at a time so we can bring as many of our folks along with us as we can. Like we’ve been doing for the last year or more, we’ll continue to take this journey bit by bit. As things change, we’ll keep you posted!
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 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.
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:
Capacity is limited to approximately 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. 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 out of state in the past 14 days, please stay home.
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. When we are outdoors, you may choose to remove your mask once you are seated and are remaining seated. Masks will be required as we are gathering and leaving, and anytime we leave our seats.
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. Until such a time as everyone is vaccinated and we have reached “herd immunity,” we will need to continue to wear masks.
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 everyone is able to be vaccinated, we will be refraining from choral and congregational singing when gathering indoors. 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.
We will also be celebrating communion at our outdoor worship services using pre-packaged communion elements.
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.