⚠ 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.
We at Emanuel, as a community of faith and a family of God, desperately want to gather again. We have never been apart spiritually, but we are separated physically and socially and that has weighed upon each of us in different ways. We are looking forward to coming together in some capacity again as people gathered by the Holy Spirit, empowered and sent out to live out our faith in our day-to-day lives.
On June 7, 2020 we will resume worship at Emanuel again. Worship will be at 10 a.m. on the front lawn of the church building.
A few points to consider regarding this:
° 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.
° Face coverings – Masks or other face coverings will be required. For children between age 2 and 5, the wearing of a face covering or mask is at the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian. As per Massachusetts guidelines, children under the age of 2 should not wear a face covering or mask.
° Seating – People will need to bring their own chairs to sit, as we will not be entering the church building. You may also consider bringing outdoor umbrellas if you are concerned about shade.
Worshipping outside will require some adjustments to our typical service, largely for practical purposes. We expect these adjustments to shorten the duration of worship. This consideration is especially important as we recognize that having no bathroom facilities on the premises immediately available may pose some inconvenience. We are making the best of the situation presented to us.
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.
Throughout this unprecedented time, we have faced uncertainty and we know that we will continue to go forward facing it. We will be precautious. We will be cautious. And we may – naturally – have some fear, but we won’t be controlled by because we know that God is with us now, just as he has been with us always, just as he promises to stay with us, and just as he promises to be there where we are going. God calls us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, but we are never abandoned.
By our very name, Emanuel, we confess that God is with us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. As we embark on the next leg of this journey, we give thanks for your patience and faithfulness thus far, and most importantly we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness toward us. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we’re in this together!
Angie, Council President