During this time of continued restrictions due to the presence of the Covid19 virus, St. Paul’s will continue to offer printed and video services online. These services, with a full Liturgy of the Word, will be our primary worship offering.
In addition, the church will begin to offer Onsite Eucharistic Gatherings. These will be 30-minute worship gatherings for people to gather as safely as possible in the house of God for prayer, a brief meditation on the Word of God and the receiving of Holy Communion. These gatherings will be supplemental to the Liturgy of the Word, not an alternative. The Gatherings will also serve as a time for us to see each other face to face and encourage one another through our presence together.
Rationale: It is not safe enough to resume our full activity at the church. But people need Holy Communion. And they benefit from gathered prayer at the church building. Holy Communion, by its very nature, is something that should be publicly offered to gathered Christians in tandem with the Word of God and prayer.
The times for the Gatherings will be:
Saturdays at 5pm
Sundays at 9am and 10am
Sundays at 2:30pm in Mandarin
Note: Only people who are feeling well and do not have symptoms like coughing and above-average temperature should attend. This includes any who have volunteered to help. And no one should feel obligated to attend, especially if they are in a higher risk category.
The Gatherings will look like this:
-Park in the back. Enter through the main (patio) door, which will be propped open.
-Attendees are required to wear a mask. Disposable masks will be available at the door for those who forget theirs or who may not know our policy.
-Social distancing must be maintained. No handshakes or touching of others.
-Walk through the narthex to the sanctuary. The entryway restrooms will be open. All other parts of the building will be closed. Most furniture will be gone. A Greeter will welcome you. No food or beverages will be served.
-If you have brought an offering, you may place it in the box by the entrance to the sanctuary.
-Find a pew where you see a printed worship folder. These folders will be spaced out (every third pew) to ensure distancing between people/families.
-All worship content will be printed in the worship folder.
-We will not sing. At least for now. Text of hymns and liturgy will be printed out and either spoken or meditated upon as led by our pastor or cantor.
-We will not use the kneelers.
-A Scripture reading and brief devotion will be given by a pastor.
-Holy Communion will be distributed at the foot of the steps leading to the Chancel.
-A plan for coming forward in an orderly way will be explained at each Gathering; distances maintained.
-Pastors and distribution assistants will wear masks and gloves.
-The host will be dropped in people’s open hands.
-Individual plastic cups will be taken by communicants from safely spaced trays on a table.
-Communicants will dispose of their cups in the nearby trash basket after use.
-When the Gathering has concluded, worshipers should take their worship folder with them as a sign that their pew has been used.
-Worshipers are asked to fill out their Fellowship Card and place it in the offering box following the Gathering
-A plan for leaving in an orderly way will be explained.
-Pastors will not greet people in the narthex but will be available outside.
-People are asked to exit quietly through the narthex toward the parking lot.
-Any conversations should take place outside.
-Our organist will continue to provide full musical selections for the online Liturgy of the Word, as well as certain musical selections for the Sunday Gatherings.
-Basic cleaning and wipe-down will occur between services. This will be done by our Custodian. Windows may be opened to increase airflow and ventilation.
-Hymnals, Bibles and papers will be gone from the pews.
-Hymn sings and other types of gatherings may be added outdoors as the weather allows.
-Policies may change over the course of time as safety dictates.
Question: Do I need to make a reservation to attend? How do we know that attendance will be kept at a safe level? Answer: You are encouraged to send an email to the church office stating your attendance intention. However, we feel that with our current congregational size, the size of our sanctuary, the added service time, and the caution which people are exercising, that our Gatherings will almost certainly not exceed the State guidelines (50% capacity). If a Gathering gets to that size, we will have to limit attendees and adjust.
Further Questions: What kind of volunteers are needed for these Gatherings? And am I expected to serve if I was on the volunteer list before this? Answers: Our regular volunteers are NOT expected to serve in their former roles right now. However, we will need volunteers for these two new roles:
Greeter – These volunteers will stand outside the patio entrance door and welcome, direct and assist people as they approach the church. They should have a clear understanding of our Gatherings policies so that they can answer any questions. They will also offer a mask to anyone without one and ask them to wear it. When the service starts, the Greeter should position themselves near the Sanctuary entrance. They may come forward to receive communion during the distribution.
Communion Assistant – These volunteers will help fill the trays of individual communion cups before the service. During the service, as communion is being distributed, they will place fresh trays on the distribution table and remove the empty ones. This volunteer can sit in the sanctuary during the rest of the service and will not need to be robed.
Pastor’s role: In addition to leading the liturgy, the pastors will stand in the narthex before the service, at a safe distance, and welcome, direct and assist people as the Greeter does. They will watch the offering box that is placed in the narthex and answer any questions people might have as they enter the sanctuary, particularly about seating options.