Moving Forward to Phase 4: Sunday, July 5

Tuesday, June 16

Good morning, friends and family!

Missio Dei Church is cautiously and excitedly moving towards a return to gathered worship on Sunday, July 5. I cannot express to you how excited I am about this. I hope you are too! Our fellowship promises to be sweet with one another and the Lord. What a delight it will be to greet friends again, hear familiar voices lifted up in worship, and see covenant children sitting with us.

We hope this letter will orient you to how our plan will work. As you read, please keep in mind that this plan has placed a high value on the safety and care of those who choose to attend. Therefore, several aspects are less than ideal. At the same time, the Session believes that this plan provides us with an excellent opportunity for safe and in-person worship according to our Session’s adopted reopening plan as we move on to the approved “Phase 4: High Safety Gathering” phase.

The Plan

Starting July 5, we will conduct one worship service (we may need to move to two services if our numbers grow too quickly) per week. To practice safe social-distancing we will adjust our practices of seating, the Passing of the Peace, the Lord’s Supper, the offering, congregational singing, and the entering and exiting of the sanctuary. Here is how some of the elements of our worship will be adjusted during this season:

  • For those who are not yet comfortable worshiping in person, we are working on having our service live-streamed to social media. We will post the link of where to find the live-streamed service in the Realm and Facebook for your convenience. Families with very young children might also want to consider this option, keeping in mind that nursery care will not be provided at church.
  • Since all communal Bibles have been temporarily removed from the sanctuary, please bring your own Bible.
  • The doors of the sanctuary will be opened 10 minutes before worship begins.
  • Before entering the sanctuary, each person will have his or her temperature checked with a non-contact infrared thermometer.
  • Please practice social distancing as you enter the sanctuary. Greeters will help you locate a seat in the sanctuary on alternating rows, ensuring that at least two seats are between each family unit. Please leave unoccupied rows for large families/groups.
  • Your bulletin will be distributed before the service and safely placed on usable rows. Please take the bulletin home after the service or throw it away on your way out.
  • During worship, the outside doors will be kept open and fans will be blowing in the hallways to ensure good air circulation. Our immediate neighbors will hear our confession of faith, assurance of pardon, affirmation of faith, sermon, and singing!
  • Kids Crossing and nursery will not be available at this time. However, if a diaper needs to be changed or if you want to nurse in private, you may use the nursery. We do ask that you wipe down all surfaces using the provided Clorox® or Lysol® wipes.
  • The restrooms will be open for your use. So that we do not have a cleaning crew working during the service, we do ask that you wipe down all surfaces that you have touched by using a provided Clorox® or Lysol® wipes which will be found in each restroom.
  • During the Passing of the Peace, members should not express affection for one another in the typical ways, but limit interactions to an encouraging word.
  • We will not take up an offering (passing the baskets) during the service, however, an offering basket for tithes and benevolence will be available at each exit of the sanctuary if you bring cash or a check.
  • At this point we are still working on a safe way to administer the Lord’s Supper for those who do choose to attend, however, we will probably not be communing together for a few more weeks. Until such time that we are able to partake in communion as a congregation under one roof, the Session asks that members do not take communion privately at home and wait to enjoy the full blessing of our worship together in Word and in Sacrament.
  • For the time being, we will be moving congregational singing to the end of the service, reducing the number of songs being sung, and strongly encouraging mask-wearing during singing. This is meant to minimize both "respiratory droplets" in the air and the length of time we sit in the sanctuary with said droplets hanging around.
  • After the benediction, you will be dismissed in an orderly fashion. We do ask that you not congregate outside of the church building after worship out of love and respect for our immediate neighbors who might not be comfortable with us lingering. If you would like to meet with your brothers and sisters after worship, we ask that you meet for lunch at someone’s home.

Though we are returning to gathered worship we are not returning to the way things were. We are still negotiating the COVID-19 pandemic and it is critical that we conduct ourselves in a way consistent with the grace and mercy shown to us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless of the plan we have adopted, there is no perfect plan. So, let’s start praying now that love, charity, humility, patience, and sacrifice will characterize our relationships and the spirit of the worship services we enjoy, remembering that it’s the Lord we have come to worship rather than satisfying ourselves first and foremost.

In addition to this counsel, your Session specifically asks you to observe the following:

  • If you are sick, have chills, sore throat or shortness of breath, are feverish, or have other signs of illness, we ask that you remain at home.
  • If you have been directly exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive, we ask that you remain at home until a doctor permits you to return to public activities.
  • While you are at our facility, we ask that you follow safe social-distancing protocols and refrain from physical contact.
  • We are asking that all worshippers consider bringing and wearing a mask to wear during worship. If you do not have one, a small supply of masks will be available at church.
  • When the worship service has concluded, we ask that you exit through the sanctuary doors and immediately depart the building.
  • If you are a member of the at-risk population (defined as those who are 65 or older or those with pre-existing conditions such as chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system), you are strongly encouraged to remain at home.

For those who are unable or uncomfortable to return on Sunday, July 5, you will be missed. The Session wants to communicate that it is understandable why some can’t come right now and even wise for some of our members not to do so. If you fall into that category, please know that your brothers and sisters grieve with you, because there is a loss. Our fellowship will remain incomplete until we are all back together; and we look forward to that day with great anticipation. But let us also make it clear, in another sense our fellowship can never be disrupted. We remain united at all times by the same Spirit, under the same Lord, and by our common commitment and vows to one another. So, though you will be missed, you remain united with your church family.

In conclusion, I want to express again my excitement about our targeted return to gathered worship. Though it will not be the fullest expression of what we long for, our God calls us not to despise the day of small things but to instead rejoice (Zechariah 4:10). So, let’s do that with full anticipation that the Lord our God will be worshipped and adored, that we will be built up and strengthened, and our witness to the Lincolnway community will continue to grow and prosper!

For Christ, the Church, and His Kingdom,

Pastor Paul