After the CDC’s recommendations two weeks ago, we have some important updates to share regarding St. Peter’s Summer 2021 Worship offerings. The overall schedule remains unchanged as we are hoping to offer a mix of opportunities to worship that will hopefully capture as many comfort levels as possible. To recap, that’s an 8:00 spoken indoor service of communion, our 9:45 live-streamed service of the word, and an 11:00 outdoor service of communion with sung music.
The biggest update to share is that for the outdoor service, masks are recommended, but optional. This includes times when we will be singing outdoors. We will still ask family pods to maintain distance outside and we will be limiting our time together, but we are so excited to be able to make this change!
At this time, we are still asking those who attend the indoor service to wear masks. We are heartened by the recent news about how many adults have received vaccinations and the falling case rates. We also want to contribute to those numbers continuing to go down. Please know that the worship committee is meeting in early June to discuss measured, progressive steps with regard to masking and singing indoors. In addition to the increased vaccination rates, there are recommendations coming soon from the ELCA and CDC which we hope to take into account as we continue to move forward together.
The FAQ, with some updates to policies, is listed here. See you soon!
1. What worship services are planned for this summer?
St. Peter’s will hold three services each Sunday this summer:
8:00 — Spoken indoor service of communion
9:45 — Live-streamed service of the word
11:00 — Outdoor service of communion with sung music
2. What does the 8:00 service look like?
The weekly 8:00 service will be a largely spoken service with readings, congregational responses, sermon, prayers, and instrumental music. There will be no communal singing. For an answer to the question “Why won’t we be singing indoors?” please see number 13.
Communion will be administered using the fellowship cups that have been in use at St. Peter’s drive-in services for the last several weeks. Materials for worship, including a bulletin and these fellowship cups, will be available for worshippers to pick up on their way into the building.
Masks are required and extra masks will be available for anyone who does not have one. Social distancing will be practiced while in family pods.
3. Do I need to pre-register to attend the 8:00 service?
Yes. At this time, we are asking people to pre-register using the church’s website or by calling the church office. We believe we are able to accommodate all who would attend an indoor service at this 8:00 service, but until we have a better understanding of what that looks like, we are asking people to register. Head to the pre-registration page to sign up!
4. How many people can fit in the sanctuary with social distancing rules still in place? Is there enough room for one indoor service to be sufficient.
We are easily able to safely accommodate more than 120 people while still maintaining social distancing to reduce the risk of infection. We believe this to be enough room to meet the demand for an indoor service at this time. The staff and worship committee will monitor this service and make adjustments accordingly.
5. If pre-registrations are too high, people who walk in off the street will not be able to come to worship. How will we manage this?
The staff have recommended making available a reduced number of spaces (30 less than the max) for pre-registration to allow for those who may have forgotten to register or who didn’t know it was requested.
6. Are we maintaining records at the 8:00 service for the purposes of contact tracing?
Yes. The back of the bulletin will function as a sign-in sheet for those who are in attendance. Worshippers will be asked to fill this out, rip it off, and leave it behind. This will provide information for the membership committee to enter into Shepherd Staff as well as provide an adequate method for any contact tracing should it become necessary.
7. After the 8:00 service is over, will there be coffee bar and snacks? Can we chat with fellow worshippers in the narthex?
There will be no coffee bar. At this time, we are asking worshippers to take their post-service fellowship time outside. By reducing the amount of time we are with one another, we reduce the risk of spreading infection.
8. What does the live-streaming service look like?
This will look pretty much exactly as it has looked for the last several months. Prayers, Bible readings, sermons, prayers, and music will continue to be a part of this service, only at the earlier time of 9:45 since the Christian Education hour will be on hiatus for the summer.
9. What does the 11:00 outdoor service look like?
The 11:00 service will be our option for worshipping outdoors, allowing for a service of communion for those who are not ready to head indoors for a service with the bonus of being able to sing together during the service. Materials for worship (communion, service bulletins, etc.) will be provided at a welcome table or by worship leaders.
The make-up of the service will rotate throughout the different weeks of the month:
1st Sunday of the month- New Day music with band setup
2nd Sunday of the month – Traditional music sung a cappella
3rd Sunday of the month – Traditional music sung a cappella
4th Sunday of the month – Family-oriented service with music from a variety of sources
Masks are recommended, but optional. Extra masks will be available for anyone who needs one. Social distancing will be practiced with family pods staying apart from each other.
10. What happens to the outdoor service if the weather is poor?
In the event of inclement weather, we will transition to a drive-in style service. Worshippers will be asked to stay in their cars and tune their radios to 107.1 FM where they will be able to pick up audio of the service.
11. Are we maintaining records at the 11:00 service for the purposes of contact tracing?
Yes. Outdoors, people will be asked to sign themselves as being present. This information will be shared with membership committee for entry into Shepherd’s Staff and will serve as contact-tracing information. If the service transitions to a drive-in service, contact-tracing is not required. The staff will do their best to get records of who was there.
12. Why begin this schedule of services in June?
With the falling case numbers in Lancaster County, rising number of vaccines administered, and the Governor’s recent decision to relax state-wide restrictions with regard to indoor gatherings, the worship committee and council feet it is possible to offer this schedule over the summer. Beginning this schedule over the summer allows us to begin gathering information and preparing for the fall.
13. Why are we not singing at the indoor service?
Singing indoors in a large group has been shown to be an extremely effective way to spread COVID since it is a virus that is transmitted through aerosol droplets. At this time, we will avoid singing indoors, even if masked, until a larger percentage of the population has received their vaccination. Refraining from singing indoors demonstrates our love and care for our neighbor. The worship committee is continuing to monitor the latest in data and recommendations and we will incorporate sung music as soon as we can.
If you’re interested in singing with people, we have a couple of outdoor options. First, the 11:00 outdoor worship service will include music sung by all worshippers in attendance. Also, each Thursday at 7:00pm throughout the summer, Adam will lead singing under the portico.
14. Not singing together is extremely disappointing and I’m sad about it. How can we possibly have a Lutheran worship service without singing together?
Speaking personally, I am in complete agreement that not singing together has been a source of great personal sadness for me over the last several months. Few things bring me joy in quite the same way as leading a group in song and being separated from that since last March has been a true hardship. Despite this sadness and despite it being necessary to endure it at this point in time in service to our neighbor, our worship will remain vital and “Lutheran.”
Lutheran worship is, at its core, about gathering the whole people of God to proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus through celebrations of Word and Sacrament. Lutherans have typically shared the Word in a variety of ways: readings from the Bible, prayers, sermons, music, and more. Although Lutheran worship has a tradition of incorporating sung music from the gathered people, singing is neither solely a Lutheran activity, nor is it the only thing that makes a worship service “Lutheran.”
So, worship at St. Peter’s will continue to be Lutheran in that we will, as much as we are able, include the entire assembled congregation in the actions of worship. We will continue to share the story of Jesus, the love of God, and the driving force of the Spirit in our world through Word and Sacrament. We will continue to gather for worship that seeks to show forth Christ and demonstrate to our community that no matter what the circumstance, whether it be one of praise or lament, God is with us, has always been with us, and will never let us go.