Reopening St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for Worship

With the safety of St. Mark’s and the entire Rowan community in mind, your Church Council offer this process for reopening the St. Mark’s sanctuary for worship. Those who think they should wait even longer before coming back to our sanctuary should certainly use their own judgment. No one is to be judged for following their conscience.

  1. When North Carolina fully (100% seating) reopens restaurants to inside dining, the St. Mark’s Council will watch to see if the reopening of restaurants has caused adverse risk to the population in Rowan County. Specifically, if the coronavirus trend remains flat or lessens two weeks after reopening restaurants, we will be able to reopen our sanctuary the following Sunday.
  2. We will only open up for Worship. There will be no Sunday School, meals, or committee meetings until this first step of reopening for worship has been evaluated by Council.
  3. The pews in the Main sanctuary will be wiped down with disinfectant before and following worship.
  4. All interior doors (except for restrooms) will be blocked open (including the doors to the sanctuary). Those door knobs and handles, nonetheless, will be disinfected before and after worship.
  5. Restrooms will be sanitized before and after the service. Of course, we strongly urge twashing hands before leaving the restroom.
  6. Every third pew will be blocked off on each side of the sanctuary, with alternate pews open on the opposite side of the sanctuary.
  7. Greeters and ushers will wear a mask and only verbalize a greeting. There will be no hand-shaking or hugs. We urge congregants to wear masks, but not gloves. In place of gloves, we urge the use of hand sanitizer placed throughout the church.
  8. Only those who reside in a house together are to sit in the same pew. It does not matter where you have always sat, or with whom you have always sat. If you reside in the home with only one other person, you may sit with that person, and no others, during worship. If you live in the home by yourself, safety dictates that you sit in a pew by yourself until we may better understand the consequences of our meeting at all.
  9. The elements of Holy Communion will be prepared by the pastor, using strict hygienic procedure for your safety.
  10. Ushers will not be used during Holy Communion. The Pastor will direct the congregation to come forward one pew at a time.
  11. As one pew (one house group) comes forward, there is no need for social distancing, as these are those persons with whom you live in the home. A bottle of hand sanitizer will be placed in the aisle for you to use as you come forward to receive Communion.
  12. The Pastor will have no assistants during Holy Communion. He will have used hand sanitizer just prior to administering the elements of Holy Communion.
  13. The bread will be received into one flattened (not cupped) single hand, the cup received by the other hand. The bread and wine will then be eaten and drunk, standing before the pastor. The communicant will then move to the side of the sanctuary s/he was sitting in, using the outside (window) aisle, taking the empty cup to place in a receptacle a few feet from the pastor at the head of the aisle. There will be a receptacle on each side of the pastor. A bottle of hand sanitizer will be placed by each receptacle for you to use as you after you receive Communion.
  14. For those unable to come forward for Holy Communion, the pastor will go to the communicant and administer the Sacrament. The communicant will place the used cup into a supplied bag, seal the bag, and leave the bag on the pew to be collected later.
  15. Offering plates will be located at the main entrances into the sanctuary. The offering will be gathered by one person, using disposable gloves. Those gloves will then be thrown away, and that person’s hands washed immediately and properly.
  16. As worship concludes, pastor will recess to his office. Worshipers will then leave the sanctuary one pew at a time, practicing proper distancing of six feet, as they leave the building for their vehicles. They will then leave for the homes. There are to be no groups gathering in the halls, sidewalks, or parking areas.

Approved by Council, May 26, 2020