In-Building Worship Option beginning October 4th

There’s no question that our community has deeply missed each other for the past six months. It’s been a hard journey switching to Facebook and Zoom, and we are all longing to get back to a point where it’s safe and wise to worship in the same building together. After a lot of discussion, our COVID Preparedness Team and our church council have a proposal for the next few months of our worship life together.

We’ll soon be taking registrations for in-building worship, with the first in-building Sunday on October 4th. The in-building option would be available every other Sunday, with the service live-streamed on our usual Facebook and Zoom channels for those who would like to join from home. We would continue pre-recorded at-home worship on the opposite Sundays.

Here’s a short video modeling what in-building worship would look like right now!

The plan:

– All worship attendees would need to register in advance and sign a waiver releasing the church from liability in case of infection. Masks would be required at all times when inside the building, except for when receiving communion. In-building worship would take place in the sanctuary, with chairs removed to provide for six feet or more of distance between each household.

– Worship would include:

  • spoken prayers, readings, and preaching
  • pre-recorded choir pieces
  • musical participation by rhythm patterns and sign language, but not by singing out loud, humming, or whistling
  • distanced communion as we exit the sanctuary.

– Unfortunately, we would not be able to stay for any fellowship in the building or around food. If attendees want to stay and chat, they must be outside and more than 6 feet from the door so that other attendees may exit without contact.

Q: Why are you saying “in-building” instead of “in-person”?
A: Great question! Although it’s certainly not ideal, the opportunities that we have for gathering online (in Facebook comments on the worship videos and in Zoom coffee hours) are still a way of being “in-person” to each other. We don’t want to negate the importance of any possible social contact during a time when we miss each other so much. That’s why we don’t say that in-building worship is the only “in-person” option – we’ve found ways to be in person since March 15!

Q: Why every other week?
A: The amount of energy that goes into preparing for in-building worship is going to be high. Gathering in-building every other week gives Pastor Emmy, Jon, and our many volunteers enough time to prepare and to adjust as we might need to as new issues arise. And, sadly, it gives us extra time if we are alerted to the presence of a COVID-positive person in a previous gathering.

Q: Do we have a maximum number of households that can attend in-building worship?
A: The state requirements of 50% capacity would mean we cannot exceed 125 individuals in the sanctuary. Our worship attendance before March 15 averaged about 75 people, so we do not expect to hit that maximum number.

Q: What if things get worse? Or better?
A: We’ll be keeping an eye on city, county, and statewide case counts, as well as continuing to follow state restrictions on gatherings. This is another reason for an every-other-week plan – it gives us time to pivot as needed if something changes!

Q: I’m not ready to return to in-building worship.
A: We recognize that not everyone wants to or can return to in-building worship right now or in the next months before a vaccine is readily available. We are absolutely committed to keeping at-home worship by Zoom (screen or call in!) and Facebook available every week for those who choose it.

Q: I read a study that said it’s safe to hum / shake hands / take communion if the wine is strong enough / etc …
A: That’s great, and we really hope it proves to be true! All the guidelines we’re outlining are guidelines suggested or required by the state and city. If we are alerted that we had a COVID-positive person at in-building worship, we want to be able to say we took every possible precaution to prevent spread. Again, if things change, we’ll make changes, but the video and the guidelines above are what we’re sticking to for now.

Q: How long will we be doing this?
A: Honestly, we don’t know! So many factors – case increases or decreases, new peer-reviewed research results, a vaccine timeline – will effect what is safe and wise for us to do. We’ll keep reviewing everything we can and we’ll keep you informed.

Q: Where can I register for in-building worship on October 4th?
A: You can fill out the registration here!

Free Summer Produce Distributions

Little Kitchen Food Shelf is hosting a free summer produce distribution this Saturday!! Please join us, all are welcome!! Rain or shine!!

When: This Saturday, June 20, 12-2pm

Free and open to the community, no pre-registration or ID/proofs needed! Masks required; social distancing enforced. For more information, please call 612-788-2444.

This event is the first in a series of free summer produce distributions taking place on the third Saturdays of June through September (July 18, August 15, and September 19).

Drive-Thru Drop Offs!

My Very Own Bed
Saturday June 20, 10am – noon
5th Street Side of Grace Center

You may remember that we started a drive for My Very Own Bed back in March – collecting brand-new twin sheets, pillows, mattress pads, and stuffed animals for children moving out of homelessness. This drive was on pause during our at-home worship, but MVOB recently announced they are low on supplies! Barb Bower picked up and took over our current stock of donations today, AND this Saturday, we will also be taking drive-up donations!

Look for the pop-up tent on the curb on our 5th Street side! You can drive up, drop off, and head out!

You can bring NEW:
– twin size bedsheets
– twin size mattress pads
– twin size blankets or comforters
– pillows
– small stuffed animals

Holy Week at Home

At-Home Worship Schedule for April

Sunday, April 5, 10am – Palm Sunday Worship with Communion

Thursday, April 9, 6:30pm – Maundy Thursday Meditation with Communion
Friday, April 10, 6:30pm – Good Friday Meditation
Saturday, April 11, 4pm – Passion Walk
Saturday, April 11, 7pm – Easter Vigil with Communion

Sunday, April 12, 6:30am – Sunrise Meditation
Sunday, April 12, 10am – Easter Sunday Worship with Communion

Wednesday, April 15, 6:30pm – Shared Holden Evening Prayer

Sunday, April 19, 10am – Sunday Worship with Communion

Wednesday, April 22, 6:30pm – Shared Holden Evening Prayer

Sunday, April 26, 10am – Sunday Worship with Communion

Wednesday, April 29, 6:30pm – Shared Holden Evening Prayer

 

Joining Worship Online

If you are on Facebook, our church Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/gracenempls. If have a Facebook account and you “Like” our page, you will see a notification on Facebook when we go live for worship. But you do not need a Facebook account to watch the videos! Just go to facebook.com/gracenempls and watch.

You can watch previous worship videos on our Facebook page or by going to gracenempls.org/worshiponline.

Joining Worship by Phone
During any of the worship times, you can dial 312-626-6799. When asked, enter meeting code 908-357-395 and press #.

Preparing for At-Home Worship
When you prepare to watch the live stream or recorded videos, it is helpful to pay attention not only to what you can see and hear, but also your other senses. Some suggestions:
– Sit in a comfortable chair or on the couch.
– Put on slippers or grab a blanket for comfort and warmth.
– Light a candle, especially if it is a good smelling one!
– You are very much welcome to eat your breakfast or dinner, or drink coffee or cocoa or tea, during worship.

Communion At Home
In the beginning, the Christian church was not in a separate church building, but in individuals’ homes. The people prayed and sang together, read Scripture, listened to testimony, and shared their food.

The Lutheran church proclaims that Jesus is fully present for us in the bread and wine of communion. Luther wrote that it had nothing to do with whether a priest or pastor was “good enough” – in fact, he said that all baptized Christians, as members of what he called “the priesthood of all believers,” could baptize and could consecrate communion in an emergency! We are living in very unusual times, and we hunger for the promise of the presence of God. That is why we will continue to eat communion together, at our many kitchen tables, physically separate but still one body of Christ, and surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

You are invited to use whatever bread (loaves, crackers, even cookies!) you have available to you. You are welcome to add a small cup of wine to this practice if you like.

Worship is On (line)

 

During the encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, we will be connecting and worshiping online.

Join us for online worship on Sundays at 10am by Zoom here or by Facebook here. You may also call in to listen by dialing 312-626-6799 and entering meeting code 908-357-395.

Join us for online for Midweek Mediations on Wednesdays at 6:30pm by Zoom here or by Facebook here. You may also call in to listen by dialing 312-626-6799 and entering meeting code 114-860-901.

You do not need a Facebook or Zoom account to watch videos or listen by phone.

You can also find past videos of worship on Facebook.

If during this time you find yourself in need – your employment is reduced, your isolation increases, or you’re simply wanting a new book recommendation – please feel free to contact Pastor Emmy directly. We will be reaching out to every family in the congregation and finding ways to keep in touch, but we don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks. We are here for you.