Members of Salem, 6/15/2020
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord
.” (Psalm 27:4-6)
God’s people long to worship the Lord. We are free to worship anywhere and at any time. What an added blessing it is to gather with our fellow Christians in God’s house and worship our Lord together. For the past 3 months, we have been denied this privilege. However, with this letter, we are thrilled to announce that Salem is re-opening for in-person worship!
Beginning Sunday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 24
, in-person worship services will be offered at Salem. Worship will take place at 8 and 10:30am
on Sunday, 7pm
on Wednesday, and Holy Communion will be offered in each service. Thank you for your patience as we, along with the church council, have navigated these uncharted waters. We also ask that you remain vigilant in following the social distancing protocols out of love for your fellow church member.
As we gather for worship you will notice a few changes from our normal service procedure. Please read the following list and familiarize yourself with each point. If you are not comfortable gathering at Salem in accord with the following guidelines, we would encourage you to stay home and watch the recording of the service. (A recording of one of our live services will be posted each week on Salem’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7KRe5Nr2Se2jqQuDJU02yw
- The capacity of the main floor of our church sanctuary is just over 200. Since our governor has stated that churches can now meet with 50% capacity we will strive to have no more than 100 people worshiping at a time. We will be offering three worship services each week. We will use the balcony if more than 100 people attend a service. (No sign up is required.)
- While face masks are not required, we do strongly encourage everyone to wear one. Your pastors and all who serve in the service will be wearing masks. (The Pastors will not be wearing mask as they lead worship, but they will put one on for singing and communion distribution.)
- You will be asked to maintain safe social distancing as long as you are in the building. With that in mind, as soon as you enter the church building, please make your way to the sanctuary and find a seat, carefully keeping the six-foot distance from others who are not members of your household. You will notice that every other pew has been blocked off with green tape and signs. Please do not sit in any pew that is marked to remain empty.
- There will be limited singing in our worship services. If you do plan to join in the singing, you must wear a face mask. We realize this is not ideal, but it is for the safety of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
- We will not be passing the offering plates. Instead, the offering plates will be located in the narthex for your use as you enter or exit.
- Those distributing the Lord’s Supper and will be wearing face coverings during the distribution.
- The Communion elements will be prepared in a sanitary way. Communion distribution will be continuous flow. Please keep 6ft apart from the person in front of you. Those distributing will sanitize their hands before distributing the sacrament. The bread will be placed in the communicant’s hand. Each communicant will take an individual cup of wine. (Cups will be spaced out in each tray and the common cup will not be offered.) The blessing will be given after all have communed.
- To encourage safe social distancing, our ushers will usher you out of the pews at the end of the service starting from the back. This is the reverse order from what is normally done at Salem.
- Following the service, you are discouraged from socializing in the narthex. Instead, we encourage everyone to socialize outside where there is plenty of room for social distancing.
- The backs of the pews, the door handles, and the bathrooms will be sanitized before and after each service.
- The hymnals, worship cards, and pencils have been removed from the pew racks. The entire service will be printed in the service folder. Please take your service folder home with you. Do not return it to the baskets. Also, feel free to bring your own hymnal, and/or Bible if you so choose.
- Children’s activity bags will not be available for use.
Other Points to Consider:
- The pastors and ushers will not be shaking hands as you enter and exit.
- You will find hand-sanitizer in the narthex. Please use it as you enter and as you exit.
- If you are sick, or know you have recently been exposed to the coronavirus, please do not attend.
- Members of all ages are welcome to attend. However, if our elderly members and those who are considered “high risk” are not comfortable attending in light of the above guidelines, we encourage you to stay home and arrange for private communion with one of your pastors.
- If any members have questions or concerns about these small gatherings, please contact one of us, or one of the Elders so that we can discuss your questions or concerns with you.
- We will continue to monitor the worship protocols noted above and will make adjustments as appropriate.
The reality is that our church building was not designed with social distancing in mind. However, we are doing what we can to honor the guidance given by our civil authorities and follow the advice health experts. We are confident that our entire membership will, in Christian love, follow the guidelines noted above. We look forward to seeing every one of you very soon.
May the Lord God, our Great Physician, be with you all!
Pastor Paul T. Schuler
Pastor Paul M. Kuehn