Guidelines for reopening Trinity Lutheran Church in Lombard

(issued 6.3.20)

 

To all of Christ’s saints at Trinity Lutheran Church and School:

 

Greetings in the Name of Christ! I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have fared well during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. As you are aware, we at Trinity have tried to use an abundance of caution to protect our members and visitors and to make everyone’s safety the top priority.

 

As a result, following the recommendations and guidelines of our federal and state authorities, we stopped having in person worship services in church, and started live streaming our worship services as an alternative. They are available to view on our Facebook page and our website on Sundays at 9AM, and are also archived at those two places in addition to our YouTube page and can be viewed anytime on demand.  

 

Fortunately, God is seeing us through this pandemic, as infections and deaths are trending downward. As a result, our Governor has recently released new guidelines for reopening not only businesses in Illinois, but also churches. So our Board of Elders recently met via conference call to discuss how we can responsibly and safely reopen Trinity for live, in person worship services while respecting the authorities’ new safety guidelines at the same time.

 

We understand that there are a lot of strong emotions concerning the reopening of our church. Some rightly feel that it’s been so long since we have met in person and can’t wait to do so again. Yes, live streaming is much better than nothing, but at the same time, nothing can replace gathering together as God’s people, and you can’t get the Sacrament over live stream.

 

At the same time, some rightly feel concern about gathering together during this time of pandemic. After all, our congregation has a high percentage of people who fall into the age demographic that the medical experts have deemed to be at high risk. So, while all of us miss gathering together, we MUST take the safety and health of the members of our church family very seriously, and do all we can to protect everyone.

Therefore, taking into account what the Illinois Department of Health and Gov. Pritzker have suggested for church reopening, we have come up with a plan for reinstituting worship services that will allow us to gather together live, but at the same time will let us do so responsibility as we heed the suggestions of our medical experts and government officials. Details for our reopening are as follows:

Our first live, in person worship services will be held on Sunday, June 21. We will have two services, one at 9:00AM and one at 10:30AM. No Monday night services will be held at this time. This schedule will be in place until updated guidelines are released.
 

The new guidelines from our state allow for a gathering not to exceed 25% of our sanctuary’s capacity. At Trinity, this would allow up to around 85 people for worship. However, we feel that at this time it would be responsible to target a maximum crowd of around 50 – 60 people. Should Illinois go into the Phase 4 of its reopening in late June as projected, then this policy will be consistent with what the rest of the state will be doing.
We are having 2 services because one service will force us to cap attendance at around 85, while 2 services will allow us to accommodate well over 100 worshipers.

 

We are going to ask that all of you who would like to attend worship to call the office at 630-629-8765 and leave a voicemail as to your preferred attendance time, or to email me at pastorwagner@trinitylombard.org with your preference. This will allow us to manage attendance to ensure that we gather together in numbers that are responsible and in line with guidelines. Please let us know your desire for your worship time, or your willingness to worship at either service, by the end of the day on Sunday, June 14.
 

We ask everyone to PLEASE consider being flexible with the time you attend. Please be open to attending either service. If everyone insists on attending the 9:00AM service, for example, that simply isn’t a possibility, and we will have to force some to attend at a time against their wishes, which could create hard feelings, and we don’t want that. Please understand that this arrangement will be temporary. Please be considerate of your other Trinity family members, and try and be flexible with your attendance time, so we all can worship safely.
 

Our elders and ushers will be asking your cooperation with social distancing with seating. Of course, families will sit together. But we would like everyone to spread out as best they can, leaving empty pews in between each other as possible. With an attendance of 50 – 60, we should easily be able to separate everyone.
 

Absolutely everyone attending a service over the age of 2 MUST wear a mask. Exceptions will NOT be granted except in very extreme situations. If this is a concern for you, please contact me to discuss your situation.
Handshaking will be very strongly discouraged.


The offering plate will not be passed, but will be left in the back entrance of the Sanctuary. Offerings can be placed in them upon your arrival or your leaving.


We will be having our Sanctuary professionally disinfected by a company specializing in that service before June 21, and our elders and ushers will be disinfecting the pews before every service.


For the first couple of live services in June, we will not be singing hymns out loud. We will have Mr. Linstead play all or a portion of each hymn, and we may or may not have a couple of designated singers, but we ask that you refrain from singing out loud, at least at first. We can reassess this in July as updated guidelines are released.


Communion modifications will be as follows:
The pastor and elders will distribute the Sacrament while wearing masks and gloves. While unpopular, we will be instituting the so called “drive by” style of communion, where a line will be made to receive the host from me in the aisle (in your hands and not on your tongue please), and then walk to the side to receive the blood in a plastic, disposable cup, and then return to your seat. No common cup will be used in the short term.


After services, there will be no food served, limited fellowship time with social distancing, and no Sunday morning adult Bible study until further notice. I will be continuing a live streamed study on Thursday night at 6PM throughout the summer.


If you are still uncomfortable coming to church this soon, or you are not feeling well, by all means, PLEASE feel free to stay home with a clear conscience. Note that live streaming of our services WILL continue, even as we start to meet live. This popular feature will be a permanent practice of Trinity, as it has greatly increased Trinity’s exposure and presence in our community, and nationwide.
And lastly, a timing of a service of Thanksgiving, as well as a timeline for our confirmation service, will be forthcoming very soon.

 

We hope that these guidelines will allow everyone to come back to live worship, yet to feel safe and comfortable in doing so. Please do not hesitate to come to myself or an elder to address any concerns at all.

 

And one last thing – if anyone would like to participate in a social distancing communion distribution after the stream of church on Sunday, June 14 instead of waiting until June 21, please email me your desire to do so or leave a message at the church office by the end of the day on Thursday, June 11, and I will make these arrangements with you on an individual basis.

 

Thank all of you so much for your support, patience, understanding, and cooperation during this difficult time. As we continue to work together, God will lead us to God pleasing and safe worship practices. I have missed all of you very deeply, and I am very much looking forward to seeing y’all again. I can’t wait! God bless all of you in Christ Jesus!

 

Sincerely,

 

Pastor Wagner

June 3, 2020