Dear Members and Friends of Benediction,

The time for the return to in-person worship is upon us, and the church council needs to let you know of the measures that will be in place to protect the health of all those attending services. Because of the current public health conditions from COVID-19, our gathering will not quite be a return to the normal service formats of 2019. The council has decided to take a cautious approach to reopening, until the transmission of this illness is under better control. We will be monitoring the public health conditions and will relax these measures as warranted. These are the precautions we will be taking for our resumed worship services. Many of these measures will be familiar from previous times we met as a congregation during the pandemic:

  • All those 12 years of age and over are expected to wear a mask while in the church building, except if medically exempt from wearing one.
  • All those 12 years of age and over are expected to be fully vaccinated while in the church building, unless medically unable to receive the vaccination. We ask unvaccinated members or members uncomfortable about attending a live worship service to continue accessing the online services that will be posted on Sunday mornings.
  • We ask everyone to refrain from coming to the church if feeling unwell
  • Social distancing and sanitizing, including hands, will continue to be practiced in the church (sorry, no hugs or handshakes yet). Moving around within the sanctuary during the service is discouraged; passing the peace can beaccomplished with a bow or a wave while standing in place.
  • The congregation will be invited to sing, with masks in place. Communion will be celebrated, with measures to insure a sanitary distribution of the elements.
  • Fellowship time after the service can take place outdoors, but without refreshments, since distributing them could present a risk of transmission.Pandemics are not new to the church. In the 1520s, the bubonic plague returned to Luther’s Germany, and by 1527 several young Lutheran congregations had written to Martin Luther asking what to do during the pandemic. In that year, as plague cases began to appear in Wittenberg, Luther wrote a letter to the congregation at Breslau that contained his spiritual and practical advice to them. His letter said that the sick should be tended to, and those that were not needed for that task should avoid becoming ill, for the health of the community as a whole: “……I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others…”* This advice is still valid today .We look forward to having worshipers gathering in the sanctuary again and participating in the community face to face. For all of you who will not be able to come, you will be present in the gathering in spirit. We hope and pray that this pandemic will pass, and soon.With blessings, the Benediction Council
    * Haemig, M.J. (2016). The Annotated Luther, Volume 4: Pastoral Writings. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, p. 404

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