fbpx

COVID-19 Updates

November 6, 2020

Return to Online Worship

After reviewing the COVID-19 infection numbers in our community, the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health has issued a “Red” alert for the Town of Stratford (see – https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker).


In accordance with the procedures developed by our COVID-19 Task Force this summer, this means that
we will be suspending in-person worship until such time as the community spread has decreased and we have returned to “Yellow” and remain there for two weeks, according to the metrics outline by the state. Worship will continue to be live-streamed on our website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.

 

While we had hoped that we would have been able to continue to worship in person, we need to do everything we can to keep everyone safe. And we have made improvements in our live-streaming capabilities so that you can have a worshipful experience at home.

 

You can stream all of our worship gatherings online on the following platforms (no account needed):


Website – http://www.thelordshipchurch.org/live

YouTube – www.youtube.com/lordshipcommunitychurch

Facebook – www.facebook.com/LordshipChurch


Stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands!

Pastor Jeff

August 30, 2020

In-Person Worship to Begin in September

Dear Church,

 

After lots of prayer, discernment, and planning, we will be returning to in-person worship in September. We will first worship outdoors on September 6th at 9:30 am, and then return to the sanctuary on September 13th at 10:00 AM.

 

It’s a hard reality, but we all need to recognize that our church gatherings are not going to look “normal” for a while. We’re going to need to adapt to our new situation in a lot of ways. But, even so, it will be a huge blessing to gather with your church family and worship together!

 

As much as we may be tired of hearing about it, COVID-19 is still with us, it is still highly contagious, and it is still dangerous for a certain number of our siblings in Christ should they become infected. Someone may have the virus and have no symptoms and still be contagious.

 

Because of this, even if some may think they are at a low-risk for complications from the virus, we all want to do whatever we can to love one another and consider others’ concerns and health above our own. We want to do whatever we can to avoid spreading the virus.

 

The Apostle John tells us that one of the defining marks of a Christian is love, and love is often marked by sacrifice for one another for their good and their well-being. In  1 John 3:11 and 16, he says, “This is the message that you heard from the beginning: love each other…This is how we know love: Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our siblings.”

 

The Apostle Paul tells us, “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” (Phil. 2:3-4 ).

 

The guidelines below outline the full range of safety procedures that we will all need to follow to worship together safely. Your leadership and the COVID-19 Task Force have worked very hard and done our very best to make decisions based on best practices and current research and that we believe are in the best interest of all our people. Thank you for respecting and abiding by these guidelines and loving our fellow siblings in Christ.

 

One thing we have learned throughout this pandemic is the need for real connections with others. We have also come to realize that these real connections can happen virtually. To help us foster these connections, we are creating some opportunities to gather during the week. Links to these Zoom gatherings will be shared via email.

 

Weekly Virtual Coffee Hour – with Communion

Join us each Tuesday from 7-7:30 PM for the Sacrament of Communion followed by coffee hour hosted by one of our Deacons

 

(Not on) Sunday School 

 

Our Faith Formation program for kids will be online this year. Led by Sheila, Sarah, and Dawn, they will meet weekly via Zoom. Wednesdays at a time to be announced.

 

We are looking forward to gathering with many of you (and all of you in time)! Even though our gatherings will be unusual and maybe a bit uncomfortable for a while, it will be good to see one another. Thank you for your willingness to love your neighbors as yourself in these times. Let’s do whatever we can to keep each other safe, healthy, and encouraged!


Yours in Christ’s Service,

 

The Rev. Jeff Lukens, Pastor
Sally Green, Moderator

COVID-19 Worship Guidelines

In-Person 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.

    • If you have traveled to any of the states requiring self-quarantine in the past 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. 

  • We will not be celebrating the sacrament of communion in person. 

  • 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 meet on the Crown Street side lawn of the church (where we usually have picnics).

  • 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.

 

Thank you!

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.

Website – www.thelordshipchurch.org
YouTube – www.youtube.com/lordshipcommunitychurch
Facebook – www.facebook.com/LordshipChurch

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 (http://bit.ly/LordshipGives) 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.