Opening Our Church Safely
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Psalmist said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1). Oh, how we rejoice with the palmist at these beautiful words that are wonderfully displayed on the north entrance to our sanctuary! Thanks be to God that we can return to His house to receive His gifts and return to Him thanks and praise!
Since we are still living with a highly contagious disease in our community, we have opened our church following the state and county's safety guidelines. I want to thank our reopening task force for their very careful and thoughtful approach to this important work. That being said, church services are going to look and feel quite a bit different for a time. Here are a list of things you should expect when you return to the Lord’s House:
- Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times (this is a city ordinance for all public places). Please wear your mask while walking up to and back from the communion table. You may remove your mask to receive communion and place it on again after you have communed.
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for you at each entrance. We encourage you use it as you enter the building.
- Attendees must maintain six feet of social distancing at all times. Floors will be marked accordingly for you.
- Attendees will be seated and dismissed by an usher. Seating will also follow social distancing guidelines.
- A service bulletin will be provided for you in your pew.
- There will be no shared items in the sanctuary, cry room or nursery. Hymnals, pens, registrations cards and the children's activity center have been removed.
- Communion will be provided to individuals or family units on a sanitized tray that will be placed on a table for communicants. The elements of the Lord's Supper will be prepared and distributed by those wearing masks and gloves for your safety.
- There will be no Bible Study, coffee and donuts, or gathering inside the church building until a time these can be done safely.
I realize these safety measures are not what we are generally accustomed to and that many of these expectations are somewhat cumbersome. However, out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, their safety and that of our community, I ask that we would all heed St. Paul’s words to the church in Ephesians 4: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace” (v. 1–3).
I also realize that some of you will not be comfortable returning to the Lord's House at this time, and that is ok. Those who are uncomfortable returning to in-person services and those who are at-risk are encouraged to join us for worship online.
If you and or any members of your household have recently experienced a cough, shortness of breath, fever, recent loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle ache, headache or sore throat or have returned from traveling within the last two weeks, we ask that you would please stay home and join us for worship online.
I am grateful to all who have gone to great lengths to keep our services going and streamed online for you over the past two months. I am grateful for the prayers and support of you, the body of Christ, over these difficult and challenging days. I give thanks to the Lord for the continued faithfulness of this congregation and your support for Lord's work here at Saint John’s with your tithes and offerings. Finally, I am ever thankful that our Lord has continued to sustain us in faith and love through His ever enduring and abiding Word.
Please continue to pray for each other, our church, our community, our nation and our world and an end to this pandemic. Pray that our Lord will use the difficult days for His purposes and for His good in Christ Jesus.
Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton
All of Saint John’s Sunday and weekday services are streamed right here at www.StJohnsFC.org. Click the “Streaming” link in the left sidebar to tune in live. Words to liturgy and hymns will be included in the stream, but you can also download the service using the link at the bottom of the stream page. If you miss joining us live, please find the YouTube link in that page or in the left sidebar to catch up with recent services.
A Message from LCMS President Harrison
In a March 13, 2020, video message, Pastor Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), provides a word of comfort to the people of the LCMS amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He also gives updates on the Synod's response and encourages members to be patient and generous with each other during this stressful time.