June 14, 2020
Minnesota churches were able to gather for worship May 27th and following. At this time, In-person worship services indoors are limit to 50% of capacity up to 250 if social distancing is practiced according to the guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The guidelines strongly recommend the use of masks and the avoidance of congregational singing. You can view the entire list of recommendations for churches here: https://mn.gov/deed/assets/worship-guidance-ACC_tcm1045-433301.pdf.
Peace Lutheran Church, directed by God’s Word, desires to worship God (3rd Commandment), honor the government (4th Commandment), and protect the health of those gathered for worship (5th Commandment). How to meet these obligations is being hotly debated by churches throughout the country. When dealing with issues like “How to worship in a COVID-19 world,” it is not necessarily a matter of right or wrong, but of wisdom. Wisdom may determine that our approach changes with time and new data.
In the application of wisdom, Christians sometimes lay aside their freedoms for the good of a neighbor. St. Paul told the Corinthians that if eating meat would cause a brother to sin, he would never eat meat again (1 Co. 8:13). In connection with our situation, the fears and concerns of our neighbor should motivate us to act with loving restraint. The current wisdom is that we should gather for worship as safely as possible so that we limit the possibility of spreading the coronavirus at our assemblies. This may mean that we have to wear a mask, worship without singing, or make other considerations for the good of our neighbor.
With these things in mind, Peace chose to hold outdoor services May 31 through June 14 as the safest and most beneficial course of action. This gave the leadership of Peace time to develop a plan for indoor worship. The plan is outlined below.
There is one more factor in that needs to be recognized. No one plan will satisfy every individual’s concerns. Some people are more conservative in their approach and others are more comfortable with risk. Some people will think that our plan is too liberal and at same time, others think it too strict. The following plan is not proposed as the middle road, but as a safe and most beneficial approach.
Worship Plan July 5th and Following
Peace will begin indoor worship services on July 5th. The 8:30 AM service will be indoor. The 10:00 AM service will be outdoor and continue to operate under the appropriate worship guidelines. On July 8th, Wednesday evening services will be added to the schedule.
If you want to continue to worship in your car, the audio from the Sunday morning services will be broadcast to the parking lot through our FM transmitter (FM88.1). To continue to support online worship, the 8:30 AM indoor service on Sunday will be live streamed. If you wish to watch after that time, the service will be available through our Peace website peacemankato.com, the Peace Facebook page, and the Peace Vimeo archive vimeo.com/peacemankato/.
Singing is an integral part of who we are and how we worship. Though there is some concern about singing increasing the spread of COVID-19, recent studies have brought that into question. It is the opinion of the leadership that the benefits of singing outweigh the risks. Therefore, singing will be a part of our worship services.
To ensure a safe and edifying indoor worship experience, the following guidelines will be followed:
- If you or a family member:
- have any symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat or loss of taste or smell;
- have been exposed to someone with these symptoms; or
- have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19,
please do not attend our in-person services until cleared by your doctor. We encourage you to take advantage of our online services.
- If you are in a higher risk category for COVID-19, please use the drive-in service or worship online.
- If you are not comfortable with the worship setting that these guidelines provide, please use our online resources.
- Face masks are
- required for the Sunday morning indoor service. (Families with children too young to wear face masks can worship in the designated area in the fellowship hall. Adults and children who are able are to wear masks in this area.); and
- strongly encouraged but not required at the Wednesday evening service.
- Register online to attend the indoor service at https://peacemankato.com/servicesignup or call the church office 507-385-1386. If we reach the 100 person limit for attendance in our sanctuary, we will overflow to the narthex and the fellowship hall. If you have children that cannot wear a mask, please register for the fellowship hall area. The service will be projected onto the screen and there should be no delay between the audio in the fellowship hall and the sanctuary.
- Social distancing (6ft) is to be practiced as you are coming and going from the service.
- Ushers will be gloved and masked.
- Ushers will ensure family groups remain separated by 6 feet. Seating will begin from the front to back to assist with social distancing. Please follow the directions of the ushers.
- Single-use bulletins will be available but should be discarded or taken home after use.
- The offering plates will not be passed during in the service. The plates will be in the narthex for you to leave your offering as you come or go from the service. If you participate in the drive-in service and online services, you can mail your offerings to the church office or give through our website com or through the Peace app peacemankato.com/app.
- Bathrooms will be available inside the church. Proper social distancing still applies. Only one person (or members of one family) will be allowed in any of the bathrooms at one time.
- After the service, wait to be dismissed by an usher. Attendees will be ushered out from back of the church to the front.
- Socialization after the service is discouraged. If you do visit with others, be aware of your surroundings and practice social distancing. Visiting outside appears to be the safest option.
Plan for the Distribution of Holy Communion
- The elements will be prepared in a safe and sanitary process. The words of consecration will be spoken with the elements still covered. (The consecrated elements will be brought to the communicants in the fellowship hall and distributed appropriately.)
- The pulpit side of the church will be communed first and the organ side second.
- Communicants will line up in the center aisle, doing their best to follow social distancing.
- Communicants are asked to sanitize their hands at the mobile dispenser in the aisle before receiving the elements.
- Communicants will receive the elements in a continuous fashion. The pastors will not speak during the distribution.
- Communicants will return to their seats by means of the outer aisles.
- After all the communicants have receive the elements, the pastor will say the dismissal blessing.