As of, Friday, May 15, 2020, Fond du Lac County has not imposed any further restrictions, although the County Health Department strongly encourages everyone to continue practicing preventative measures.
Messiah’s church council met, May 14, 2020, and had very good discussion about the latest developments and what they mean for us getting back to in-church worship. To get to the point, we unanimously decided to target Sunday, June 7/Monday, June 8, 2020 as the date of our limited re-opening. Waiting a few more weeks is to our benefit for the following reasons:
- It will give sufficient time for the city, county, and potentially even the state to issue updated guidelines and regulations (something that seems to happen quite a bit.)
- It will give sufficient time to see how things go in the general public with “non-essential” businesses re-opening.
- It will give sufficient time for us at Messiah to implement our strategy and to secure necessary equipment and supplies to re-open safely.
What is our strategy? The Board of Elders developed the following strategy on May 4, 2020, and the church council approved it on May 14, 2020.
- Services times: We will expand the number of services in order to accommodate the number of worshipers while maintaining 6 feet of space between them. We will worship on Sunday mornings at 9:00 and 10:30, and, since we are now in the summer, we will still have the Monday evening service but now at 6:30. We will need to have the late service folks wait in their cars until the early service folks have gone and the sanitizing has been done. We are working on that.
- We will need to pre-register for worship to make sure that we don’t have more people than what our nave/fellowship hall can hold at any one service. This registering will be either by phone and online. We will have the initial registration available beginning May 26, 2020. Please note: High-risk individuals may wish to hold back a little while longer from worship, or may use the Monday evening service when there are typically fewer worshipers.
- Because of the length of our pews, only the ends will be available for individuals/couples to use (a family may sit together, taking up as much space as they need). To maintain 6 feet of separation front to back, every other pew will be closed off. We will remove the hymnals and friendship folders and have single-use bulletins with all the needed words to liturgy and hymns.
- For communion, we will go to a continuous style of offering the Sacrament. The communicants will come to the front, one at a time (maintaining distance), receive the elements, and return to their pew. There will be no kneeling at the rail. We will do one side of the church first and then the other. We will also temporarily suspend using the common cup and offer only the individual cups. This keeps the number of servers to two and makes for a smoother process.
- Personal contact (handshaking, hugging, etc.) is discouraged. We will open the back doors of the nave so that worshipers may arrive and leave without being bunched together.
- We encourage worshipers to come and leave wearing masks but may remove them during worship if they so choose. We have a limited supply of cloth masks at church that are washable and may be reused. We will also have hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrances of church.
- Between the 9:00am and 10:30am services, we will disinfect the pews, doorknobs, bathrooms, and other commonly touched surfaces.
- We will receive the offering by placing receptacles at the entrances of the nave for the worshipers to place their tithe.
These changes are being done only because of the COVID-19 restrictions and are only temporary. When restrictions are removed and we are able to worship as we always have, we will return to our regular customs. In the meantime, we praise and thank God that He is leading us through this with hope and good will. His Word is still accomplishing mighty things in and around us.