Corona Virus and Worship Attendance
Pastor Scott - November 16, 2020
We’ve said it before, and it continues to be true. Long range planning during this pandemic is about three weeks out. Just when we opened up for in-person worship, Governor Cooper clamped down on restrictions and reverted back to the guidelines of having no more than ten persons for inside gatherings. While the Governor’s restrictions specifically state that church worship attendance is exempt, now what? We want to be good citizens, and at the same time there is a deep desire for some to come safely into the house of the Lord for worship.
We know that the Corona numbers continue to increase with positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths. We also know that two companies have promising vaccines being rapidly produced. As a country and as a world, we are not out of danger yet. In fact, some would suggest that we are entering into a more serious wave of infection with the cold weather advancing upon us.
When we opened up in-person worship about a month ago, we put into place very specific protocols:
· Limited to 100 persons, which is less than 10% of our sanctuary capacity
· RSVP online to limit the number and to inform individuals should someone test positive
· Checking temperatures
· Careful spacing out of individuals/families in their seating
· Thorough cleaning after each service
· Required masks while inside the building
It has felt safe. People are following the protocols carefully. Most people are being very cautious in that they are self-selecting not to attend worship. In fact, we’ve never hit our max of 100 for any service—most are averaging between50-70.
On Monday, November 16, Church Council wrestled with these new guidelines set by Governor Cooper to revert back to limiting only ten people for an inside gathering. Our North Carolina Synod of the ELCA has also made the same recommendation. Because of the large size of our sanctuary and the ability to socially distance from one another, the Council decided two things on Monday:
· Continue to allow a maximum of 100 individuals for in-person worship with our safety protocols in place, noting that we are doing this more safely than many breweries and restaurants are currently doing.
· Carefully monitoring small group bible studies in spaces that allow for extra social distancing.
That covers Sunday mornings, but what will this mean for Christmas Eve? Like I said, long range planning is about three weeks out. While the leadership team has devised plans for three different scenarios for Christmas Eve, we will have to wait to see which one we will implement based on the surge of the virus and the guidelines of our Governor. Right now the thought is to offer three services like we do on Sunday mornings, again limiting the number to 100 per service.
The Psalmist wrote in 122, I was glad when they said to me, “Let us come into the House of the Lord.” We are all looking forward to that day, but not until we can do so without endangering our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. While we can never eliminate all risks and people must assume personal responsibility if they choose to attend worship, we long to be reunited as the Body of Christ.