Dear People of Faith,
We will continue to livestream worship online permanently, and encourage anyone for whom the Coronavirus poses a heightened health risk to continue worshipping at home. That said, on June 21st, assuming health conditions in Butte County remain stable, we will additionally open our doors for in-person worship. Please understand that though the gospel of Christ proclaimed in Word and Sacrament will be same, the manner in which we worship will be dramatically different. These differences have been made at the direction of the state’s health department and we will need the help of each person who worships with us to ensure our community’s safety by carrying them out. Please read the rest of this letter carefully as I will describe in detail the changes to expect 1) before you arrive for worship, 2) when you arrive to enter worship, 3) during worship, and 4) after worship.
1) Before You Arrive at Worship.
There will be two worship services each Sunday of limited size. One service will be at 8:30am and one service will be at 11am. We will live-stream the 11am service. Each service in our sanctuary can have 30 people in the pews, plus 19 worship leaders, for a total capacity of 49 people. You are required to RSVP for the worship services so that we do not exceed capacity. To RSVP please either visit chicofaithlutheran.org or call the office at 530-895-3754. You will be able to RSVP to either be a worship leader or a worship participant.
Know that the air conditioning will be running on high, so consider bringing a sweater. There will be no Sunday school offered during the in-person services. If you would like your child to experience Sunday School, we offer it online, Thursdays at 10:30am. Please contact the office for details.
2) When you Arrive at Worship
When you arrive for worship, in front of the main entrance to the sanctuary, you will see the Welcome
Table. Please check in at the Welcome Table. Our Greeters will welcome you, and explain the procedures described in this letter so that you know we are taking your health seriously and you know how to care for the health of those worshipping with you. Our Greeters will also check to make sure you have RSVPed for the service. They will then check your temperature using a touchless thermometer and ask you to wear a mask at all times during the service. If you do not have a mask, they will provide you with one made by our wonderful quilters. Wearing a mask and having your temperature checked are done in compliance with the state’s guidelines. Finally the Greeters will give a squirt of hand sanitizer and introduce you to an Usher.
The Usher will guide you to your seat. Please sit where the usher directs you. The ushers will seat
families together, but otherwise will ensure that groups as spread as far apart as possible, with a
minimum distance of 6 feet.
3) During Worship
Worship will be shorter. We estimate it will be 45 minutes. But don’t worry, I won’t skimp on the sermon! During the entirety of worship please wear your mask. Please do not sing or hum during worship. Singing has been shown to be one of the most effective means of spreading Covid-19. For that reason, we will have a maximum of one singing soloist. Instead of singing we will showcase instrumental music. Though brass and woodwind instruments still spread Covid-19 due to blowin through them, we will have guitars, piano, organ, cello and more! Also, because the Lutheran tradition values the congregation as whole making music, we will have percussive instruments available and Luke will guide us in moving and making music together with our hands. If you have a percussive instrument, like a drum, triangle, maraca, or xylophone, we encourage you to bring it. During the passing of the peace, please do not leave your pew. We encourage you to bow or wave to the others in worship. We will also not pass an offering plate. Instead, there will be a box in which you can drop your offering as you leave worship. Ushers will release one family at a time to receive communion. Only I will distribute communion, and I will distribute only the element of bread. There will be no cup of any kind. From the beginning of the Lutheran tradition we have affirmed that Christ is fully present even if only bread or only wine is available for communion. The only bread will be gluten free wafers. When you receive the bread please wait to consume it until you have returned to your seat. Though I will use hand sanitizer before distributing communion, I will start being tested regularly for the Coronavirus, simply to ensure the safety of our congregation to the highest degree possible.
4) After Worship
When worship ends, please exit at the direction of the Ushers. They will release one family at a time. There will be no coffee hour after worship, and I will not stand in a greeting line. I will be out on the grass should you like to chat after worship, but though I would love to hug you, I will insist that we maintain 6 feet of separation. A team of people will need to clean after each service. They will spray the seats with Lysol, as well as spray and wipe down the handles of the bathroom’s doors, sinks, and toiles. The AV operator will
also need to spray down the AV equipment. From this description of worship, you can see that the worship leader roles have also changed. We will need leaders for the following roles for each service:
Welcome Table Greeters (2): Welcome people as they arrive for worship. Explain procedures, check RSVPs, temperatures, hand out masks, squirt hand sanitizer, and pass on to Ushers. Ushers (4): Guide people safely as they move throughout the sanctuary. Show people to their seats, release them for communion, and release them at the end of worship. Team Clean (2): Ensure the cleanliness of high-contact surfaces. Wipe down handles in bathrooms, and spray seats. AV Desk (1): Manage all the technical equipment for both in-person audio and visual, as well live- streaming the service. This will require learning new software. Assisting Minister (1): Read the scriptures and lead the prayers of intercession Musicians (3): Lead the congregation in making non-vocal music All these roles will require new training. We have started using new church management software called Elvanto to integrate our worship scheduling, online giving, and website into a single program. We ask you to sign up for these roles using Elvanto. People who have emails should receive an email from the congregation on June 10 th with instructions on how to use Elvanto. Once folks have signed up, we will offer trainings the week before worship begins. We can only offer two services if sufficient people sign up for these leader roles.
Finally, please remember that you can continue to worship online either at ChicoFaithLutheran.org or facebook.com/Faithlutheranchico/live. The time of the live-stream will move to 11am. If the Coronavirus poses a heightened health risk to you or people with whom you live, please continue to worship with us from home.
As you can see, there is much work to be done before we can gather together. Our worship will be different, and at first, it may feel awkward. But I am excited at this opportunity to imagine new ways in which we communicate and connect to one another. May it be an opportunity to imagine new ways to communicate and connect in every aspect of our lives.
God bless you,
Pastor Ben Colahan