Dear Members & Friends at St. James,At a special meeting of the congregational council on September 15th, it was motioned and approved that we reopen our building once again for in-person worship and group meetings. This decision was reached with the understanding that certain things will need to be in place and that those choosing to attend will abide by the following guidelines:1. Anyone who is inside the church building at any time is asked to wear a facemask. If youdo not have a facemask, or forgot to bring one with you, we will provide disposable masks that will be available near the front door.2. When you first enter inside the building, we ask that you use hand sanitizer. We currently have one hand sanitizing station and are considering the purchase of a second one. There are also small bottles of hand sanitizer located in the pews.3. If you are here for a meeting, we would ask that you please disinfect any hard surfaces where you have been sitting. Cleaning supplies will be made available in the meeting areas. Meeting size is limited to 10 persons or less, and all persons are expected to wear a facemask and distance themselves from others by at least 6 feet.Specifically regarding worship:1. When you enter the church building, you must be wearing a facemask. (Children, ages 3 years or younger, do not need to have a mask on.) 2. Everyone is asked to use hand sanitizer before they enter the sanctuary.3. There is to be no hugging or handshaking. Bulletins will be located in a basket near the entrance to the sanctuary. You may take one from the basket, but only after having used the hand sanitizer first. There will also be an offering plate next to the bulletins, to receive your weekly tithe.4. An usher will help individuals and families to take a seat in one of the areas that have not been cordoned off. There will be no socializing in the entryway. In order to maintain a distance of 6 feet from another person/family, every other pew has been cordoned off with blue tape. A maximum of 48 persons can be in the sanctuary and balcony at any onegiven time. 5. Until the foreseeable future, there will be no singing of any kind during the worship service.6. The pastor and lector may remove their mask while speaking, but only after arriving at the pulpit or lectern first, and only so long as they are at least 10 feet away from the next nearest person.7. Once the service has concluded, an usher will dismiss individuals/families by rows. A distance of 6 feet should be maintained when exiting the sanctuary. Once again, there should be no socializing in the entryway. You may remove your mask and greet each other only after you have left the building. However, we would strongly caution you to maintain that 6 foot distance out in the parking area.8. Until further notice, there will be no fellowship time following the worship service.9. Also, if we discover that someone who was present in worship has also tested positive forthe Covid-19 virus, other who were in attendance that day will be notified and the congregational council has the authority to suspend in-person worship for up to 14 days in order for people to self-quarantine. Now that we have returned to in-person worship, we will once again offer the sacrament of Holy Communion. However, the way in which we receive the sacrament will have changed.
Altar Guild is to prepare Holy Communion in the following manner: Hands must the thoroughly washed before beginning. A mask and gloves are to be warn at all times. Communion wafers are to be put into individual paper condiment cups and place on a tray. Communion wine and grape juice are to be placed into individual disposable cups and putinto every-other hole in the communion trays, as to avoid touching more than one cup. Any unused communion elements are to be disposed of in a proper manner after the service. Nothing is to be held over to the next week.1. The pastor and communion assistant will not hand the elements to those receiving the sacrament. Instead a table will be set up near the steps leading to the altar with both the wafers and wine/grape juice. The pastor (maintaining a 6 foot distance and wearing a facemask) will speak the words “The Body of Christ broken for you…The Blood of Christshed for you,” as each person comes forward to pick up their wafer and individual glass.2. Those receiving Holy Communion will keep their facemask on until moving to a stand located near the table, where they can then set down the cup containing the wafer and wine/grape juice. At that point, they can then lower their facemask and consume both elements, disposing of the cups in a waste basket, before putting back on their mask and returning to their seat.3. Because the sanctuary only offers a single aisle, we ask that individuals remain in their seat until the person ahead of them has come forward, communed and then returned back to their seat. Once the aisle is clear the next person may come forward. Now I am aware that for some, these are big changes in the way in which we gather and worship together. However, as followers of Christ, our first concern is to be for our neighbor. Understand that there will be some who are not yet ready to return and others (who have health concerns) that will not want to come back until this pandemic is over. That is perfectly okay. We will continue to do our best to offer video recorded parts of our worship service each week on YouTube and Facebook. We are cautiously optimistic about this decision to gradually return to in-person worship. We will continue to keep you informed as situations change. Hopefully (perhaps by next year) we will once again be able to offer hymn singing and more opportunities to gather for fellowship and service, without the need to wear a facemask. However that will probably not happen until this pandemic is over and a vaccine is readily available. Until then,please remember the building is not the church, You are the church!
Pastor Matt Deames