On Wednesday, November 18, Governor Ducey held a briefing to address the rising infection rates across the country and the impact on Arizona as the snowbirds return. Dr. Cara Christ (AZDHS) issued the following recommendation on behalf of the administration: “We know now that masks provide more protection than previously thought. Wearing a mask can also protect you from the infectious droplets from other people. We recommend that all Arizonans wear masks in every setting, including public settings, public transportation, at indoor and outdoor events, gatherings, and private settings. Arizonans should wear a mask any time they will be around other people who do not live in their household.” Governor Ducey has asked Arizonans to follow this recommendation.
It continues to be the Biblical practice of our congregation to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). For this reason we ask that everyone coming onto the church site for meetings of any sort to wear masks at all times. Likewise those who come onto the church site expecting to encounter others should wear a mask at all times. We continue the practices of social distancing, hand washing, etc. We continue to provide live and recorded video of our services for those who are not comfortable coming to the church under the current circumstances. And we continue our prayers that the Lord would lift this plague from our world (or come quickly, Lord Jesus).
We will endeavor to our utmost to unite ourselves behind these considered precautions and doing them, recognizing that we each have different comfort levels, concerns, etc. When necessary, we will remind each other gently of what we have decided together to do. The Directors and Elders will monitor changing conditions and revisit and revise the precautions as necessary and with your feedback.
- Those with any symptoms, e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, sneezing, etc., are strongly urged to watch the broadcast at home, rather than put anyone at risk or distracting others from the worship service.
- We will observe social distancing. Handshaking, hugging, and other close contact between people who are not of the same household is strongly discouraged. When opening push doors, please back into them, rather than pushing with hands. Where practical, doors will be open during services.
- The entryway will be roped off to prevent clustering in that high traffic area. Ushers will direct attendees to their seats. If the usher is seeing a group to their seats, please wait at the marked locations for him to attend to you. Ushers will dismiss people gradually to provide for social distancing. After the service, the ropes will be down in the entryway, so that people can check their mailboxes, etc. Ushers will moderate the traffic in the entryway.
- Bulletins will be placed in the pews in the places where congregants can sit and still maintain distance. Hymns will be printed in the bulletin, but the hymnals will still be available.
- Communion will be offered to communicants during the service, but will take longer, since not as many may be at the table at once. Communicants will not kneel at the rail, but stand, in order to minimize surface contact and required cleaning. Communion will also be offered at other times by appointment, especially for those who need to be particularly careful about exposure. Please contact Pr. Lepak by email to schedule an appointment time.
- Instead of passing offering plates, an offering collection box will be available at the end of the service to receive offerings. It will not be available at the beginning of the service due to security concerns.
- The Sunday Morning Bible Study will be held shortly after the service in the Fellowship Hall. Coffee and water will be served for the time being.
God willing, some of these precautions will soon become unnecessary. As conditions change, we will keep everyone updated. Let’s all pull together. When we see someone forgetting, let’s kindly remind. When we forget and are reminded, let’s express nothing but thankfulness for the reminder and thankfulness that we can again come together at the church for Word and Sacrament with our brothers and sisters. Another aspect of these precautions is that we will be showing the community that we are concerned about working together in step with our community on this issue.