|A letter from Pastor Jack and the SOTH Council:
We intend to follow all state COVID mandates/guidelines for indoor worship according to Governor Murphy’s recent Order #156. Of course, we will also observe strict adherence to the guidelines published by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here’s what you can expect when you come to worship until further notice:
- Please use the Hunters Lane entrance, if possible.
- Face masks or other facial coverings must be worn at all times, with the exception of the Pastor and Music Director, who will be positioned in the front of the sanctuary sufficiently distanced from other worshippers. If attendees arrive without any facial coverings, masks will be available at the door. Lectors will be seated in the first pew of the sanctuary and can remove face coverings while reading from the lectern.
- Worship attendees will be asked to complete a “sign in” card to be returned before leaving. This measure will be observed, based on state recommendations, for COVID “contact tracing” if necessary.
- Temperatures will be taken with a no-touch forehead thermometer, and those with a high temperature will not be staying for the service.
- Dispensers containing hand sanitizer will be strategically placed at the entrances to the church building and at the rear of the sanctuary.
- Offering baskets will be placed on a table at the rear of the sanctuary; they will not be passed around during worship.
- Take-home bulletins will be used and there will be no need to handle the hymnals or Bibles.
- Individual communion “kits” will be available upon entrance to the sanctuary; Each communicant will take one sanitary, sealed communion kit with her/him to the pew. Then, after the words of consecration are said during the service, all communicants will open their communion kits and take communion in the pew. There will be no “foot traffic” during communion. Empty communion kits will be deposited in a trash receptacle upon dismissal.
- Adequate physical distancing will be observed; Attendees will sit in designated “available” pews which are separated by 8-10 feet.
- Singing will be discouraged (attendees can either hum or simply remain quiet during the hymns) as epidemiologists warn us of the risks of breath aerosol spraying greater distances during the act of singing.
- “Exposure time” will be limited to 45 minutes so the worship service will conclude at approximately 9:45 a.m.
- Use of restrooms will be discouraged unless necessary.
- There will be no post-worship refreshment time,
For those of you who are medically “at risk” and/or do not feel comfortable gathering for indoor worship, we will honor and respect your decision to refrain from participation in public worship. It is our intent to continue to Zoom our live worship, utilizing the same link we have been using, from the church starting July 5 for the next few weeks. Once all of the necessary equipment is installed, worship services will be live-streamed over the Internet and will be archived to appropriate YouTube and Facebook sources. Live- streaming instructions will be sent to you in the near future…we’ll only be one computer click away!
The Council and I wish to provide a safe and comfortable worship environment for all during these unprecedented times. If you have specific questions/concerns which are not adequately described in this correspondence, then by all means call me at 908-887-1161. I’ll be happy to assist you.
I remain grateful for all of you who have joined us via the Internet during our worship “shut down” period… and heartfelt thanks to those who continued with generous financial support for ministries which went uninterrupted, even when “stay-at-home” distancing measures were in place throughout our state.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jack, Interim Pastor, Shepherd of the Hills, Sparta