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East Elevation.1Our Session has voted to resume in-person worship on Sunday, May 24th.  Obviously, the services will be a bit different from those pre-Covid-19.  Here are the guidelines we will be following as we reopen our doors for worship.

CHURCH GUIDELINES FOR WORSHIP IN A COVID-19 ENVIRONMENT

We have to assume that simply because we have a date to begin worshiping again that it does not mean we simply go back to the way it was, or that the way it was will even be available to us for quite some time.  We need to deal compassionately and carefully with those already in the church family and with those in the community we would want to reach.  Attending an in-person worship experience should not be seen as a test of our faith.  It is not God’s will that we endanger ourselves or the community in order to maintain our previous faith practices and traditions.  By adapting to serve in new ways we may actually be able to better honor both God and neighbor.  Attending to the needs of anyone uncomfortable with or unable to attend worship is an important shepherding task as we discern which activities we can and should designate as in-person.

Remember that the church was born in small gatherings of the faithful within homes and throughout the community.  There is grace and power whenever and wherever faith is shared.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  The Session representing this body of believers seeks the well-being of God’s people in everything related to our congregation.  While the primary focus at this time is on returning to in-person worship experiences, the following notes also apply to a wider range of church-related activity as well.

Thanks again to our Session for their work in the preparation of these items.  Thanks, too, for resources available to us from the Kentucky Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Kentucky Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Lon Lorton

WORSHIP

1.  Everyone in attendance will be asked to wear a mask.  This is in line with requirements laid out by our city, county, and state authorities.  You are asked to bring your own mask, but if you do not have one, we will have masks available.

2.  No-touch thermometers will be available for taking everyone’s temperature upon entering the building.

3.  Hand sanitizing stations will be apparent and available through the building - at the entrance to the church, in the restrooms, and at intervals in the aisles.

4.  Proper social distancing will be required of everyone.  That means six feet of space between you and any other persons not living in your home.  We will use painter’s tape to help us see how that distance applies - as you enter, as you find seats in the pews, and as you move about in the presence of others.

5.  All doors will remain open as we gather to worship and when we leave, to allow access without having to touch doors.

6.  When our worship includes the sharing of holy communion, we will have individually sealed containers that contain both a wafer and juice.  The cups will only be handled by our elders of the day, and they will only handle them while wearing gloves.

7.  Congregational singing will continue.  The use of masks by everyone will allow for all to sing.  It may feel like a bit of a challenge, but we encourage you to give it a try.  God does not take away points from the worship we offer Him for muffled tones.

8.  As it stands now, the social distancing will not allow for the choir to either rehearse or lead us as a single unit from the choir loft.  We do hope there will be ample creativity and quality of choir members and others to allow for solos and small ensembles to be utilized regularly in worship.

9.  We will not be able to observe the passing of the peace as we have in the past.  We will, however, be able to do some creative things in an altered way of passing the peace of Christ Jesus.

10.  Offerings to the ministry of the church can be placed in baskets at the entrance of the church.  (This, by the way, is how John Calvin’s Geneva church handled the offering 500 years ago.)  Tithes and offerings can also be placed in the church lock box near the office entrance or mailed to the church at P.O. Box 568, Madisonville, KY 42431.  We will be looking into the possibility of providing on-line giving for any who might like to give in that way.

11.  Children’s messages, when appropriate, will be given from the front of the sanctuary to the children, who will remain with their families in the pews.

12.  Elders will be available throughout the service to assist anyone with any possible needs that may arise.

13.  Entering and exiting the sanctuary will be through the narthex entrance of the building.  Obviously, the pastors will not be able to greet anyone with a handshake or hug.  We will handle the exiting after worship in a similar fashion to what you may have experienced at weddings.  One row at a time will be dismissed in order to maintain proper social distancing.  Worshipful music will continue as you prepare to leave.

14.  As an added precaution, all pew racks will be emptied of their contents, allowing you to know that nothing where you are sitting has been handled by other people.

15.  Everything that may have had human contact will be thoroughly cleansed prior to and following each service of worship.

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

1.  We will not be able to offer a nursery or activities for infants and children.  It is not possible to safely assure proper social distancing in these age groups.

2.  Summer is typically a time of recess for Sunday School classes of all ages.  Each class leader and participants will determine when they will resume meeting.

3.  It is too soon to determine what we will do about Vacation Bible School.  Plans will continue, even though a date cannot be set.

FELLOWSHIP AND PASTORAL CARE

1.  Fellowship meals will not resume at this time.

2.  Many in our church family have made efforts to remain in touch with as many of our members as possible.  This is to be commended and continued.

3.  You are encouraged to continue taking advantage of what we have been doing for the past couple months regarding our website, videos, devotions, and Bible studies.  We will also continue to utilize the email and text lines for prayer concerns and information.

“All things are lawful, but all things are not beneficial.  All things are lawful, but all things are not constructive.  No one should seek his own good, but the good of others.”  1 Corinthians 10:23-24