I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

Psalm 122:1

My congregation will be returning to in-person worship this Sunday, after six months of worshiping only online. I thought I’d share our plans here, for those who are curious, and I so that I can remember this when I look back on this unprecedented year. Here is the letter we sent to our congregation:

Dear Friends in Christ,

We are excited to offer an in-person worship option once again! We will continue to offer an online worship service for those unable to return to in-person worship at this time, and we request that anyone experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19 please worship with us from home. For those able to return to in-person worship, here is what to expect in this first phase of our returning to in-person worship: 

  • Our first in-person worship service will be held on Sunday, September 20th, in the sanctuary, with every other pew roped off to promote social distancing. 
  • We will have worship services at 8:30 and 11:00, with additional worship services to be added as needed, so that the number of worshipers at each service is kept at or below 50 people. 
  • In order to anticipate how many services we need to have, we ask you to sign up to attend these worship services, either online (https://www.firstlutheranchurch.net/service-times) or by calling the church office. 
  • Everyone is required to wear a face covering throughout the worship service and whenever you are inside the church building. If you forget your face covering at home, we will have masks available for you. Children under the age of five are not expected to wear face coverings. With approval from the Health Department, Pastor James and the lay reader will not be wearing a mask when they are speaking.  
  • We ask that everyone who is able to please enter the sanctuary from Second Street. (If you need to use the handicap ramp you may enter through the side door). Once inside the church building, please do not congregate in groups. You can have conversations with church members more safely outdoors, before or after the worship service. 
  • You will be seated by ushers using the side aisles, from front to back. (This is a recommendation from the Health Department to reduce cross-traffic. We hope that you will be back to your favorite pew soon!) At the end of the service you will be dismissed through the side door to the foyer, again from front to back. Please do not congregate in the foyer. 
  • There will be no singing in this first phase. We will have instrumental music, with the hymn of the day played on the organ or piano, but we will not sing the hymn or any other music. 
  • We will be able to recite together the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other responsive elements of the worship service. 
  • Holy Communion will not be celebrated in this first phase. 
  • Pastor James will offer a special message for the children in their pews, rather than have them come forward for a children’s message. 
  • The offering will not be collected in the traditional manner. You may place your offering in offering plates that will be available at the entrance and exit to the sanctuary, or you may give online.
  • There will be no hymnals in the pew racks or other items. Bulletins will be placed on the pews before the service. 
  • Restrooms will be open for emergency use only, and we ask that only one person use the restroom at a time, unless assistance is required. 

Once again, we are excited to be able to offer an in-person option for worship once more, and with all of these precautions in place we hope to be able to continue worshiping in-person together, to the glory of God. 

First Lutheran Church of Albemarle, North Carolina

7 thoughts on “Our Congregation’s Plan for In-Person Worship

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