Thoughts On Returning to Worship June 7th at 10am
Dear friends, first I want to thank you for you patience and support during the past number of months. We have worked diligently to keep the ministry of Lindsey Trinity strong despite the threat of Coronavirus and we’ve done so well online. Thankfully, we are now at a point where we can return to worship. However, that return is not without risks and limitations.
After a long discussion with a good friend of mine concerning returning to Sunday morning worship services, he summarized my thoughts this way, “You don’t want to be the guinea pig pastor.” He was right. There are too many unknown variables and risks to measure concerning COVID 19 to make sure decisions. Are we reopening too early? Could there be a resurgence of the virus? How many people have actually been exposed? What happens if someone who attends worship finds out that he or she had the virus during that time? These are just a few of the unanswerable questions I have been trying to weigh recently when considering returning to worship and the protection of our people.
Because of the lack of accurate metrics to weigh as ever-changing and new reports emerge, my original thought was, “Let other churches run the experiment of opening services with their people then, if things go well, open the doors of Lindsey Trinity.” I wrote a two page argument about why that should be our course of action and then I never shared it. I finally realized why my heart struggled with that determination as well. It was because reports over the next year could very well remain mixed.
I finally came to this conclusion- let parishioners weigh their own risk and choose for themselves.
Sunday morning worship is vital to the life of the believer. I’m feeling that more in its absence than ever before. It hurts incredibly badly to not be in worship together on many levels of a believer’s spiritual life. We must return to worship and we must do it as safely as possible.
That being said, there is no way to eliminate all risk. We can only minimize it, which is why I need to make this plea… one I really hate to make. If you have a significant reason to fear the outcome of contracting this virus, be it an underlying health condition, age or some other factor known to increase risk, please weigh that in prayer as you consider returning to worship.
Worship at Lindsey Trinity is magnetic. We love connecting with God together. We love connecting with one another… sometimes so much that it’s hard to get service started! I understand the desire to return, the power of that draw. In understanding that power, I ask that you pray on the matter of return.
Each person who had decided to be a part of Lindsey Trinity brings to the family a piece of the divinity of God. Each person is priceless to our worship experience. I cannot wait to have everyone back to worship once again, but if that desire has to wait to be fulfilled out of love and care for our people, so be it. Our hearts will only grow fonder for all to return at the right time.
We will be opening the doors of Lindsey Trinity for a shortened worship service at our normal time, 10am on Sunday, June 7th. Make sure to read our COVID-19 Return Plan safety procedure so that expectations are fully understood and we make our worship as safe as we can for the most vulnerable among us. Thank you so very much for hearing my heart in this matter.
Pastor Travis Montgomery
Q & A – things that have guided our decisions.
1. What restrictions has Bishop Palmer proposed?
Here are the safety measures from Bishop Palmer concerning reopening: wearing masks at all times from the time we exit our vehicles until we re-enter our cars, using hand sanitizer upon entering, shortening the duration of the service to about 1⁄2 hour (which includes no singing of hymns and possibly no acolytes or children’s moments), not holding daycare or children’s church, entering and exiting only from one door (with doors propped open) and remaining out of the basement area and restrooms if possible, and remaining 6 feet apart (social distancing) at all times (when entering we will need to keep proper distance from the greeter, walk without coming within 6 feet of others, sit in specially marked seats where the greeter instructs us), placing a collection plate at the rear of the church for offerings (no passing the plates), removal of hymnals, pew Bibles, and no bulletins.
2. Why is now the right time to reopen the church for worship services?
Both Texas and Georgia have “reopened” for over a month with safety restrictions in place and although the virus is still present, they have not seen an increase in those getting sick with COVID-
19. Yes, people are still getting sick, but they are “staying below the curve.” This gives us hope that states are not opening up too quickly. Admittedly, there is risk. At this point, two things that seem to be primary drivers for contracting COVID-19- increased viral load from face to face contact and remaining in one contained area for long periods of time. This is why limiting worship services to 1/2 for is important at this time.
3. What if there is a resurgence in people contracting the Coronavirus?
We will have to cross that bridge if we get there. If we were to wait until the spread of this virus was completely diminished, it could be over a year before we attend worship again. There are many different complications that could arise based on what this virus could do. We will address those if and when they come.
4. Will we still be able to access services online?
We are currently working through a number of options that offer online streaming. We will have streaming in place starting June 7th. However, this is a new technology to us, please be patient as we work through any potential technological challenges. Access to the live streaming will be available on our website at www.lindseytrinity.org.
5. Are we really not going to sing?
I know how difficult this is to accept. However, singing would be a primary contributor to increased viral load and droplet spread. We will not be singing. However, we are planning to play pre-recorded praise and hymn music before and after service as people are entering and exiting the sanctuary.
6. What will be the order of worship?
The order of worship will be as follows, but may change over time. We hope that this will keep services down to 1/2 hour while meeting the criteria suggested by Bishop Palmer:
1. Prerecorded worship singing upon entering the sanctuary
4. Call to worship on the big screen
5. Joys and concerns (without passing the microphone) pastoral prayer, prayer for tithes and offerings, and Lord’s prayer.
6. Scripture Reading
10. Prerecorded worship on exit of the sanctuary
7. What if we run out of seating during service?
At this stage, I do not believe we will have this problem. We will have chairs set up in room 11 and also in the balcony. If we find that we are nearing capacity while maintaining distancing standards, we will have to host a second service. A number of our parishioners have underlying health conditions and we expect that we will slowly fill the sanctuary over a period of time as the effects of the virus continue to decrease. We will adjust as need dictates.
8. Will we be shutting down use of the restrooms?
No, but we will highly suggest that people consider using their own facilities before coming to worship.