Dear sisters & brothers in Christ, grace and peace be yours.
Governor Whitmer has announced that we Yoopers will move into Phase 5 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan as of June 10. The key word for this phase is “Containing,” meaning COVID-19 case and death rates continue to decline, and the number of active cases has reached a point where infection from other members of the community is less common, and gatherings of <50 can again resume indoors. The caution is also given: “But if distancing and other risk mitigation efforts are not continued, infections could begin to grow again because a permanent solution to the epidemic has not yet been identified.”
As a result, Immanuel will return to in-person worship gatherings of <50 in one indoor space as of this Sunday, June 14, 2020. We’ll observe the following:
Please continue to stay home, if you are feeling ill or running a fever OR if you are an older adult or one who has a serious underlying medical condition (CDC guidelines can be accessed by CLICKING HERE, and we encourage you to talk with your doctor about specific health questions).
Sunday service at 9:30 am and Monday at 6:00 pm. Our sanctuary seating has been marked to limit seating to <50, and our fellowship hall will serve as overflow for <50. The family room will be available as a “cry room”, if desired. We will not be using the basement level.
Physical distancing will be practiced. Please strive to allow 6 feet between yourself and others beyond your household. Please, no handshaking or hugs. This is our new dance of care! It may feel awkward, but we will learn these new steps. All building entrances will be open to reduce bottlenecks.
Please bring your facemask (for those 2-years and older), wearing it inside the church building as a sign of love for neighbor. For some, wearing a mask is prevented by certain medical conditions; we trust you to exercise care for neighbor with appropriate distancing. Disposable facemasks will be available for those who forget to bring one.
Hand sanitizer will be available at the building and worship space entrances, but we encourage you to bring your own for personal use. Frequent handwashing is encouraged.
Please sit as individuals or family groups at the end of every other pew in the sanctuary. Physically distanced metal folding chairs will be used in the fellowship hall, where the service will be live steamed using a video projector and sound system. Please adjust the chairs, as needed.
This same livestreaming/video recording will also be available at by CLICKING HEREfor access from home. For those without internet access, DVDs (visual & audio) and CDs (audio only) of services will be provided upon request by contacting the church office, but I ask for your patience as they are prepared.
Certain worship elements will be different:
To promote sanitized surfaces, pews have been stripped of cushions in the sanctuary, metal folding chairs will be used in the fellowship hall, and hymnbooks, pencils, etc., have been removed from pew racks. All service elements will be projected.
There will be no congregational singing. Singing produces 60 times more aerosol than normal breathing, thus increasing odds of air-born disease transmission. Although the congregation won’t be singing, music will still be a part of our worship.
Offering plates will not be passed, but placed at the entrance/exits for your touchless use.
Christ’s peace will be shared, but from a distance with people beyond your own household.
Holy Communion will be received in the pews or chairs. Bread, wine and grape juice will be distributed to you in advance of the Words of Institution. If you wish to exercise further precaution, we invite you to bring your own bread and wine or grape juice. If you are participating from home, please have bread and wine or grape juice ready for this meal with those gathered at the church building. We will all commune as one in our pews following the Words of Institution. Disposable cups will be used that can be thrown away following the service.
Sorry, there will be no coffee hour following the service. Consider enjoying the blessing of conversations with one another in the beauty of our summer outdoors. Transmission of personal aerosols are greatly reduced outdoors.
All high-touch surfaces will be sanitized after each worship service. Areas used by small groups will also be sanitized following meetings throughout the week.
As you can see, we are not returning to normal, but we will have the blessing of community in Christ. I ask you to use your common sense within the bounds of Christ’s teaching to love God and neighbor. Please feel free to contact me, our congregation president, Walter Scanlon, or another member of the council ad hoc COVID team – Tanya Johnson, Linda Derocher, and Linda Sjolund – with your questions, ideas and concerns. “God is faithful; by Him you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Steve Solberg Cell Phone: (906) 458-2145 Email: PastorSteve@ImmanuelNegaunee.org