Safe Sanctuary Information
We invite you to limited in-person worship
In the early days of the Covid-19 shut down, we developed a phased re-opening plan. Currently we are in:
Phase 3 for worship—limited in-person worship with Zoom availability
Phase 3 for small group meetings—welcome back! Call the office to schedule a space
While the sanctuary upgrades are moving forward a bit more slowly than we would like and the Covid-19 rates are breaking daily all time high records, we are cautiously proceeding with limited in-person worship because we have sufficient safety protocols and disinfecting procedures in place to allow worship in relative safety. In-person worship is very different from what it was before March 17, 2020, but it is nice to have people together in one space. Please be very aware that participating in worship via Zoom is still the safest option and read through the FAQ before you sign up to attend so that your expectations can be aligned with reality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will we have communion? Not as a whole group – at least not right away. Rev. Kyle will continue to offer small group communion on the weekends.
Will we be singing together? There will be music with singing by our musicians only along with musical accompaniment as we have been doing via Zoom; however, singing is very dangerous even while wearing a mask so the congregation will not be participating in the singing. For detailed scientific information about singing and Covid-19, please watch A Conversation: What do Science and Data Say About the Near Future of Singing (available on YouTube).
What about participating in liturgical readings? The liturgy and other items formerly found in our weekly bulletins will be projected on the wall in the front of the church on the lectern side. You are welcome to participate in responsive readings using a very quiet voice that stays inside your mask.
Will we all be able to sit together in the sanctuary? Due to social distancing requirements, the sanctuary will hold approximately 30-35 people including the worship team and ushers. We will be asking people to register in advance, then carefully seating people in family units while maintaining proper social distance between family units. Ushers will direct people to their seats filling the sanctuary from the front to the back and dismiss people by rows from the back to the front. Plans are underway to simulcast the service in Garnes Hall which may allow approximately 30 more people to attend in-person. However, the limitations on singing, speaking and congregating, along with careful direction by the ushers at arrival and dismissal, will apply in Garnes Hall just as they do in the sanctuary.
What about coffee hour and social time? We will have one service at 10am and ask people to refrain from congregating in the building which makes coffee hour and social time a thing of the past – for now, at least.
Sunday school? Not yet. The SPARK kids are having fun via Zoom with Sunday School on Saturdays where they have a short lesson and fun time together. Plans are still in the works for how to best serve our older youth and adults. A Zoom Bible study near Advent is definitely on the horizon.
Will we praise God together and support one another? Of course! We just need to adjust to a new normal for the foreseeable future. We will get through this, meeting challenges as they arise, and emerge from this time stronger in our faith and our connection to one another as long as we allow ourselves to be open to the changes necessary to stay as safe as possible.
Change is difficult when we want it, but even harder when it’s forced upon us.
Please begin to mentally prepare for the sweeping changes that are going to be happening inside our walls. Church is going to be very different for the foreseeable future, and there is no question that it is going to be difficult for many of us to adjust without being angry, sad, confused — even heartbroken. We will be asked to let go of rituals and traditions that have been important to us for centuries. Communion, offering, and the sharing of the peace will look radically different or will be missing entirely from worship. Weddings, funerals, baptism, confirmation… how will we honor these rituals while staying safe? What about our worship materials such as bulletins and hymnals? How will we maintain appropriate social distancing inside or even outside our building? It’s a good size building, but it’s not that large.
How annoyed are you feeling as you read this? We know it’s tough. Change is difficult when we want it, but even harder when it’s forced upon us. We do not yet know when we will be able to open safely, and we not going to do so until we have a clear plan in place and have taken all the precautions we can take to keep our members and guests safe.
Major changes are coming to St. Jacob’s. Not one of these changes negatively impacts the true reason for being the Church together. We have an exciting opportunity: it’s a watershed moment during which we will move beyond the familiar and comfortable into uncharted territory. We have seen new people joining us for worship via Zoom – people from other states who have been invited by friends and family after expressing the need to be part of a worship experience. They would have never stumbled on our church before we took worship to Zoom. How can we continue to reach people beyond 1460 State Street?
The Silver Lining of Covid-19
There is a silver lining to the cloud of Covid-19. We have a blessed opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to be relevant and inclusive, to build relationships that were nearly unimaginable a short time ago. We will come out of this stronger in our faith and in our relationships with one another and with our community as long as we stay focused on that which is truly important to being the Church: sharing God’s amazing love with one another and boldly moving beyond the walls of our building to share God’s love. Members of St. Jacob’s, perhaps you were born for such a time as this… Esther 4:14