IN-PERSON WORSHIP UPDATE (GREEN PHASE)
Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NRSV)
At the writing of this article, Northampton County is currently in the Yellow Phase of Governor Wolf’s plan to combat COVID-19 and is scheduled to enter the Green Phase on June 26th. Once we are in the Green Phase, we will gather again for in-person worship. Our church is going to follow the advice of the CDC, PA Department of Health, the ELCA and other ecumenical partners as we gather again. Following these guidelines ensures that we love our neighbors as ourselves, and we care for the least of these among us. They are meant for the sake of everyone’s health and safety. We, as a church, can set a positive example for the larger community.
Here is our plan:
Beginning on Sunday, July 12, at 9:00 a.m. we will worship in person outdoors in the back parking lot. If you wish to attend in-person worship, we ask that you follow these guidelines:
- Bring your own chair (as you are physically able) and sit as a household maintaining a physical distance of 6-feet from other households. Ushers will be on hand to guide and assist you. A limited number of chairs will be provided by the church.
- Wear a mask unless you are under the age of 2 or have trouble breathing (CDC guidelines). If you do not have a mask or forget to bring yours, we will have masks on hand that you will take home with you.
- We also ask you to practice good hand hygiene. There will be hand sanitizer in the gathering space. We encourage you to wash your hands before you leave home and then again when you return home, for at least 20 seconds.
- Parking will be available in the Miller Lot, Prospect Street, Main Street Service Station (corner of Prospect and Main), and on other streets. We are working to get permission to park in other nearby lots. Please reserve the spaces nearest our back parking lot for those with mobility challenges. Able-bodied persons should park further away.
- The church building will be open for restroom usage only. You must wear a mask and use hand sanitizer upon entering the building. Only two people should be in the restroom at a time.
- The weekly bulletin will be posted on our Facebook page and website. You are welcome to print it at home and bring it with you or look at it on your device during worship. We will have limited copies of the bulletin for you to use if needed.
- Please limit your conversations with those outside of your household before and after the service.
- We value the health and safety of all our members. Therefore, we ask that you stay home from in-person worship, especially if you are feeling ill or have preexisting conditions that make you a high-risk congregant. We invite you to watch the service online via Facebook or the website. CDs will continue to be mailed to those who have requested them. Please see the CDC guidelines for the list of Covid-19 symptoms.
In the case of inclement weather:
- If church leadership sees that the forecast is for rain, in-person worship will be cancelled. We will post this on our Facebook page, website, and on WFMZ.
- If we arrive at church and the weather changes, you will be asked to return home.
- You can watch or listen to the prerecorded worship service in your home.
What to expect during in-person worship:
- There will be no group singing, following National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) guidelines. Soloists, duets, or trios will sing the hymns as the congregation meditates on the words which will be printed in the bulletin.
- Congregants will be asked to mouth, not speak aloud, the words of unison prayers and responses.
- There will be offering plates placed around the worship area for you to place your offering as you enter or leave worship. You can also continue to give to the ministries of St. John’s through online giving, the mail, or your bank.
- We will be using Hand Speak, sign gestures, waving, and other creative ways to pass the peace while remaining physically distanced from other congregants.
- We are still planning how safely to resume the Lord’s Supper.
- We will be outdoors. Be mindful of how you tolerate heat and humidity. Please make the best decision for yourself regarding attendance.
While this does not cover everything, it gives you an idea of what to expect when we worship outdoors. Because the guidelines for dealing with this virus change so quickly, we will continue to update this plan as needed. Please watch our social media avenues, your email inbox and WFMZ for announcements regarding in-person worship. We also want to make you aware that there are many more restrictions placed on our worship experience together upon entering the sanctuary. We are working through those procedures and will inform you of those plans as they become clear.
Even once we begin to gather in-person, we will continue to pre-record a worship service in the nave to be posted on Facebook, YouTube, and our website at 9 am on Sundays. CDs of this worship service will continue to be mailed to those requesting them.
I am eagerly looking forward to the day when we will once again worship in person. May God bless our church as we adapt to all the changes required of us to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Welcome to Saint John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, located in historic Nazareth, PA. We are pleased that you have found our website and would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit with us soon. While you are here, please visit our web pages to learn about us and the things God is doing at Saint John’s.
Saint John’s Lutheran Church was established as a union church in 1859. Over the next fourteen decades, Saint John’s roots spread deep into the limestone rich earth and its trunk grew strong. The congregation flourished under the nurturing of eleven dedicated and gifted pastors who encouraged the laity to develop leadership skills.
We give thanks to God for our rich history, our magnificent building, and the legacy of faith handed down by those who have gone before us. We also give thanks for our life together at Saint John’s today.