Peace Lutheran Church
COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
May 26, 2020
Minnesota churches are now able to hold in-person worship services indoors at 25% 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.
The following plan is presented with these things in mind.
In-Person Worship Plan
From May 31st, 2020, through June 14, 2020, church services at Peace will be held outdoors east of the church building. We will continue to broadcast the services on the FM frequency so members can remain in their vehicles if they prefer. The outdoor services will be streamed and recorded for those who prefer to worship online.
If the weather is not suitable for an outdoor service, we will hold a “drive in” service. If the weather is not suitable for a drive-in service, the service will be cancelled. Changes to the service will be sent out via email, the Peace Facebook page and the Peace app. Please check these for regular updates.
To ensure a safe and edifying outdoor worship experience, the following guidelines are in place for this service:
- If you or a family member:
a. have any symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat or loss of taste or smell;
b. have been exposed to someone with these symptoms; or
c. 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.
- Register online to attend the drive-in service or the outdoor service at https://signup.com/go/pPGSTeV or call the church office 507-385-1386. If we reach the 250 limit for attendance, people will be asked to use the drive-in option and remain in their vehicles.
- Park in the west end of the parking lot, unless you are going to worship in your vehicle.
- If you want to worship in your vehicle (drive-in service), park in the east end of the lot and tune your radio to FM88.1.
- Face masks or coverings are encouraged but not required for outdoor services.
- Social distancing (6ft) is to be practiced as you are coming and going from the service.
- Bring your own chair. The chairs from church will not be used.
- Ushers will be gloved and masked.
- Check in with an usher.
- Ushers will ensure family groups remain separated by 6-8 feet. Seating will begin from the front (closest to the pastors) 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 out for you to leave your offering as you are coming or going from the service. If you participate in the drive-in service, your offering can be place in the box at the entrance to the parking lot.
- 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 closest to the parking lot will be dismissed first to assist with social distancing.
- Socialization after the service is discouraged. If you do visit with others, be aware of your surroundings and practice social distancing.
- According to the Governor’s guidelines, an indoor service would be limited to 25% capacity. For Peace, that would limit us to about 75 members per service in the sanctuary. Being outdoors allows us to gather up to 250 people at one time.
- While the drive-in services have been successful and well attended, the Council believes being able to see fellow believers would be an improvement and a step towards resuming personal Christian fellowship.
- The current opinion of the MDH is that outdoor gatherings are safer. (Restaurants are now allowed to serve people outdoors.)
- God has blessed us with the space, and outdoor summer services have been a unique tradition at Peace.
- We are well equipped to facilitate outdoor services.
- This is the safer of the in-person service choices and gives us time to develop a good plan for in-person services inside.
The Church Council continues to discuss our policy for conducting indoor services and will present those plans at the June 14th Voter’s meeting.