Beginning in May, Lancaster county and the state of Pennsylvania have raised questions about “opening up” businesses and locations in and around the state. With some shifts in phases of Covid-19 response, the church leadership wanted to offer some answers to frequently asked questions.
Pastor Craig Ross, Pastor Sarah Teichmann, Sister Dottie Almoney, and Adam Lefever Hughes contributed to the following answers. We hope that this information will be a helpful resource, and each week the leadership will endeavor to update you on “where we are” as we are church together.
This document was last updated on May 19, 2020
When do we get to gather physically as a congregation?
We plan to follow the directives which the governor and state leaders have in place for churches, taking into account the premise that as a larger congregation, our return to public gatherings will be slower than smaller congregations due to the size of many of our gatherings.
What will worship include when we do gather physically?
We will observe social distancing guidelines in every area of our property (parking lot, narthex, worship spaces, classrooms & meeting rooms, offices, kitchen, storage areas, bathrooms and hallways
We will expect people to wear masks at all times while in the building. The church will also place containers of hand sanitizers in all public places in the building. Those entering the building are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer bottles as a back-up plan.
Due to the aerosolization process (the breaking up of material into small particles) that occurs when we sing, sung music is problematic at this time. Particle clouds can stretch between 3-27 feet depending on a number of factors and will have active viruses for a number of hours. This reality, coupled with the deep breathing involved, leads us to recommend against group singing at this time. Sung song as a part of worship will likely be conducted by soloists.
Instrumental music should be fine, handbells included!
Passing plates is likely not a good idea at this time for the sake of keeping people healthy. Offerings will likely be collected in a separate box and of course accepted via Tithely!
Passing the peace will likely be conducted from a distance as well. We can offer words of peace, a bow of peace, signs of peace, but will likely not be shaking hands or hugging for a while.
Bulletins may be passed out using gloves. Alternately, we may be placing the bulletins on pews (handling with gloves, of course) for people to use. We will likely print everything in a worship aid (if we use one) to limit handling of hymnals.
One of the biggest problems with communion is how close we will be to one another. Individually packaged elements (wafer and wine) exist. The worship committee is looking into the possibilities here.
Will worship be offered via livestream still?
We are looking into this possibility. New Day is already set up to accomplish this quite easily. From the Traditional service standpoint, there are some copyright concerns. More importantly, the church would need to purchase some equipment. Conversation about how we may make this work is ongoing.
Will we have summer activities like VBS?
Not at this point. We will not offer any group activities until we are in the green phase of Governor Wolf’s plan.
Can small group activities resume in the building and what are the size of these groups?
We plan to follow the directives which the governor and state leaders have in place for churches and limit group/ committee/ activity meetings to: (1) those which fall within the size allowances by the state; and (2) those which have a realistic expectation of maintaining social distancing guidelines.
How is the financial health of St. Peter’s at this time?
As the spring season in church begins to wind down, we are in a very stable financial position, due to consistent offerings from our members through our digital giving platforms and mailed in offering envelopes and donations. We qualified for a CARES Act stimulus loan and have that as a backup for the summer, if giving diminishes a bit.
Where are we with the feasibility study for the capital campaign?
We have delayed any action on the feasibility study work and capital campaign consideration, until we get some stability in family/congregation/community life. We do not expect to consider any “next steps” in the process until the Fall of 2020 at the earliest.
How can I help?
- Keep our world, our communities, our mission partners Word of Life Deaf Lutheran and Busoka Lutheran congregations, and our congregation in your prayers.
- Be as faithful as you can be in your financial support.
- Sign up for the variety of information platforms that exist at St. Peter’s through our digital offerings. Call the church office if you have no ability to access digital information online, so we can discuss alternative ways for you to receive information.
- Consider joining one or more of the variety of digital gatherings that are being offered in educational, fellowship, musical, and support areas.
- Call a member or two (or ten) on the phone that you have connected with in the past to see how they are doing.
- Let church staff members know if there are “gaps” in our systematic plans as we follow our mission in building a community of faith by God’s grace in new and creative ways. We are learning as we go, and are always open to discuss new ideas in a new landscape for ministry.
Thank you for following the Governor’s Guidelines for this pandemic. I really appreciate your wise leadership. Linda Baker