Dear St. Matthew's Members and Friends,
Beginning on Sunday, May 31, St. Matthew’s will once again be welcoming worshippers to attend our services in person. As we do, we ask that everyone in attendance—both members and visitors—to be courteous and conscientious of of others, even those whose perspectives and concerns about the virus are not the same as their own. Christian love requires us to think about others first even if our freedoms would allow us to do more. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23 “I have the right to do anything…but not everything is beneficial…not everything is constructive.”
To prevent further spread of the virus and minimize the risks of infection at church we will be making the following changes to the way we worship.
1. Seating in the sanctuary will be spaced out to allow for appropriate social distancing between each family. Overflow seating will be available in the fellowship hall, family lounge, and a classroom if needs be.
2. Masks are not required but you are certainly welcome to wear one.
3. We ask you to consider attending with a smaller crowd at our Thursday evening services to reduce the number of worshippers in attendance on Sunday. Thursday Services will resume June 4. (Each Thursday’s service matches the following Sunday’s service.)
4. Greeters and ushers will not be shaking hands, but will be opening doors and facilitating those in attendance to appropriately spaced seating.
5. The hymnals have been removed from the sanctuary. All hymns and liturgy are printed in the bulletins. Offering plates will not be passed but we be available at the door.
6. Communion on the 2nd and 4th weekends will take place after the service. For those in attendance at church we will follow the communion liturgy similar to what we did before the shutdown, except that the communion portion of the liturgy will begin after the closing hymn. Pastor, elders and the ushers will practice a method for ushering those in attendance to the communion table in a manner that allows us to maintain distance, and still avoid confusion as much as possible. For those worshipping with us via livestream, we will continue to offer “drive-up” communion from 10:00-12:00 after communion Sunday services (2nd and 4th Sundays of the month).
7. We invite everyone coming in to church to bring their own or make use of sanitizers available for disinfecting their hands, pews, door handles or anything else they might come into contact with.
8. After each service is over, weather permitting, those in attendance will be encouraged to make their way outside for fellowship where studies have shown there is far less risk of infection. This will also make room and reduce noise for those who are coming for “drive-up” communion after worship.
9. We request that every available member family would pick a week and sign up to come and assist in cleaning & disinfecting our worship space, especially focusing on pews, door handles, and any other frequently touched surfaces (Our bathrooms already receive a full, weekly cleaning. Thank you, Linda!) Please call the church office 457-2711 to request available dates.
10. Pastor will not be shaking people’s hands (before or) after worship. We understand that we are all excited to see one another again but we ask you to refrain from hugs and handshakes as much as possible in your greetings.
11. We ask everyone to be especially vigilant about your own health. If you are feeling ill with any symptoms—be it cold, flu or even sneezy allergies—we urge you to stay at home and contact your doctor if needs be. With all the ways we now enjoy to receive the Word of God in our homes, there is no need to risk infecting others or even make your brothers and sisters feel unsafe at worship.
We want to emphasize the fact that we are not mandating or encouraging anyone to come to church who does not feel safe and comfortable doing so. Many members of our St. Matthew’s family have serious health concerns and apprehensions about contracting this virus. Please continue to worship with us from home via the livestream or on local cable channel 15 until the time when you feel comfortable in proximity with others in church. We are happy to serve you with the gospel in any way that we can. If you would like Pastor to visit you, bring communion to your home, or even just speak with him on the phone, please do not hesitate to call. (608)304-9265.
Thank you for your understanding and patience during this new stage in our worship life at St. Matthews.
and your St. Matthew’s Leaders