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⚠ IMPORTANT: Emanuel Re-Opening Update ⚠️
Grace and peace to you, people of God at Emanuel.
By this time, we are sure you are aware that on May 18 Governor Charlie Baker announced that churches and other houses of worship may begin the process of re-opening their operations. There are many protocols that Massachusetts have put out to aid in this re-opening process, and we want to say at the outset, we are taking these protocols with the utmost seriousness.
The day after Gov. Baker issued the protocols to begin re-opening, on May 19, New England Synod Bishop Jim Hazelwood issued a letter to all the churches of the synod strongly recommending that all of our congregations not hold any form of in-person indoor worship until at least July 1. Pastor Daniel spoke with Bishop Hazelwood about the re-opening process for the synod and after shared opinions, insights, direction with the council at our meeting last evening for how we will proceed at Emanuel with in-person operations, at least for the near term future. We at Emanuel agree that at this time it is best to heed the recommendation of Bishop Hazelwood to continue to suspend indoor worship. Council President Angie and Pastor Daniel both echo Bishop Hazelwood that we believe there is wisdom in proceeding slowly, watching and learning from others as they manage their own re-opening.
For the past several weeks, we have been worshipping outside on the lawn in front of Lindberg Hall. We have been fortunate that we’ve had good weather to worship outside so far. Until now, we have had an abbreviated service – meaning, in part, that we haven’t had communion
We have acquired communion packets that are COVID-safe for this time of pandemic. Everyone in worship will receive their own packet for communion. There will be instructions how to do communion so that no one is left not knowing when it comes time.
As with all things in this time, we need to adjust. We thank you for your understanding and patience as we meet these challenges.
As always, worship will be Sunday at 10 a.m. We gather on the front lawn of Lindberg Hall. A few points to consider – which you should read as something matters have changed since the last worship email:
Social distance– People of the same immediate household may sit together during worship. Worshippers who are not part of the same immediate household must sit at least 6 feet apart. You will be able to use the bathroom, although only one man and one woman will be allowed into their respective restrooms at a time to comply with Massachusetts guidelines. An usher will happily make sure we are in compliance with this.
Face coverings– Masks or other face coverings will be required when you are moving about. You may remove your facecovering at your discretion once you are seated.
Seating– People will need to bring their own chairs or blankets to sit. You may also consider bringing outdoor umbrellas if you are concerned about shade.
Weather– Like in the winter, we will need to monitor the weather and make decisions about cancelling worship due to inclement weather. Unlike in the winter, we will not be able to post these canceling on Channel 5 News. We will use the email blast, the prayer tree, the website, and Facebook to inform the parish about cancellations due to rain. Obviously, if it is rainy on a Sunday morning, you can safely assume that worship is cancelled. Those who find out that worship has been cancelled on a given Sunday morning are strongly encouraged to contact those members who might not otherwise find out through the above means. Err on the side of oversharing – it’s better to hear multiple times than not at all.
Again we reiterate: We recognize and fully honor those who, for whatever reason, feel uncomfortable coming together in any capacity right now. We will mutually hold one another in prayer in this time. We also reiterate the guidance of the medical community that those at higher risk for COVID-19 infection continue to participate in the life of our church by remaining socially distant. Those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are
People 65+ years old who have severe underlying medical conditions
People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
People who have serious heart conditions
People who are immunocompromised – Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
People with diabetes
People with vomiting and diarrhea, and/or unexplained rash
People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
People with liver disease
If you are feeling sick or are exhibiting any of the symptoms identified as related to COVID-19, do not come to outdoor worship and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Gathering together to worship is the most central expression of our faith as Christians. Hearing the Word preached and receiving Christ’s body and blood in communion with one another are the markers that set us apart from other groups who gather in fellowship and love for one another. We are excited that we are able to do once again share in this important practice that marks us as member of God’s family!