Guidelines for Outdoor Gatherings at Hope Lutheran Church
Prior to Gathering
The church will:
We ask that you will:
Prior to Gathering
The church will:
- Clean and disinfect all high contact surfaces.
- Conduct health screening on all staff and volunteer leaders.
- Restock soap and paper towels necessary for hand washing.
- Ensure hand sanitizer and face mask are available.
- Place signage and/or markings to indicate physical distancing and others guidelines.
We ask that you will:
- Determine if you are well enough to gather. As much as we would love to see, if you do not feel well, please stay home. Also, if you are a member of a vulnerable people group, please stay home until you feel safe gathering at Hope.
- Have read this document, “Guidelines for Outdoor Gatherings at Hope Lutheran Church,” along with the document, “Four Guiding Principles for Reopening Hope Lutheran Church.” By attending, you agree to follow these guidelines and principles.
- Please provide 6ft of physical distance from those not in your immediate household. Depending on where we are gathered outside, different signage and/or markings will be used to indicate physical distancing.
- Please bring and wear a face mask. This is a requirement all in attendance.
- To limit the amount of cleaning and sanitation, please bring a lawn chair from home. If you do not have one or would be more comfortable in another chair, the church will certainly provide you with a chair from Berg Hall.
- The church building will be open for restroom use only. To follow WA State Guidelines, only two people may be in a restroom at a time.
- Communion will be offered at these services. However, we will not be able to distribute communion as we have in the past. You will have two options for receiving communion. First, you may bring your own elements from home for yourself and those in your immediate household. Second, the church will have available individually packaged communion (They look like a coffee creamer).
- The church will clean and sanitize all high contact surfaces.
- Your church leadership will evaluate and learn from each gathering to implement best practices moving forward.
- If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of the gathering, please contact the church. That way, the church can notify other’s in attendance of a possible spread. Your identity will remain anonymous unless requested otherwise.
Hope Lutheran’s Guiding Principles for Reopening
Four Guiding Principles were developed to inform our planning as we begin reopening Hope in the coming weeks and months. Many written articles, recommendations from our Synod, conversations with pastoral colleagues, and prayer informed the development of these principles. The goal of these guidelines is to offer us a roadmap moving forward while allowing us to remain responsive during the reopening process.
1. Our plan is rooted in our shared faith in Jesus Christ, understanding that God has not freed us from sin and death just for our sake, but so that we may love and serve our neighbors.
Christ has called and equipped the Church to be God’s visible representation in the world through the gifting of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. When God’s Spirit was breathed into us in baptism, we became a member of the Church, the Body of Christ! A pandemic and ensuing ‘stay home’ orders have not changed that truth. While we have most certainly missed gathering in person for worship, fellowship, learning, and meals, God’s Spirit still unites us. This understanding of faith informs us of how we have and will continue to respond in the coming weeks and months. We have refrained from gathering in-person, because of God's calling to love our neighbors and each other. Not gathering together was the most faithful step to care for our neighbors and each other.
2.Our plan recognizes that gathering at church will be far different from what it was prior to COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.
However, we will not be fully closed much longer! Our plan to reopen will begin with the simple step of offering outdoor fellowship opportunities at the church. Now that outdoor religious gathering of up to 100 people have been approved, these gathering will begin soon.
After the logistics of gathering for worship are determined, we will begin worshiping outside. As much as I would like to be back in the sanctuary, being outside will be the safest first step. Knowing that many will remain uncomfortable gathering in-person, I will continue to offer an online worship option.
Life has changed all around us. We must also be prepared that worship will also be radically different when we gather again. These changes will include the distribution of communion, our ability to sing together, passing the peace, holding hands, etc. I am not sure what all of these changes will look like initially and in the coming months. I ask for grace and patience as we navigate in these unfamiliar waters together!
3. Our plan will adhere to our Governor's Four Phases of Reopening the State, along with the guidelines and recommendations from King County.
This should go without saying, but we will be following our Governor’s and county’s guidelines when we congregate again. These guidelines will include physical distancing, cleaning procedures, and maximum group numbers. I know many people struggle with these orders. I hear you! The overall impact to the economy and individual lives may never be accurately accounted for. I, too, long for a day when we think of these orders and say, “Remember when…” As a Church, we follow State and county guidelines because we are not experts on these matters. We will also follow them because they are designed with our safety and health in mind. And love for our neighbor is at the heart of the Gospel!
4. Our plan is designed, so once a step is taken forward, we will not have to take a step back due to a lack of planning, preparation, or by a decision being made out of haste and impatience.
As we begin reopening Hope Lutheran Church in the coming weeks and months, we will be taking patient and deliberate steps to do so. While there is no guarantee reopening the church will not cause the spread of COVID-19, these guiding principles hope to mitigate that possibility while also providing our church with the much needed opportunities to interact face to face once again. Rather than being in a position of having to close the church down again because we were unprepared, I would instead look back in hindsight and apologize that we could have safely reopened two weeks or even a month sooner than we did. I can live with that inconvenience. What I could not live with would be the possibility that our decisions as a church put you and our community at unnecessary risk.
Again, these guidelines were developed after much reading and research, recommendations from the Synod, discussions with other pastors, and being in prayer. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. People of God, I look forward to the day we can gather again around Word and Sacrament in fellowship with you all, my dear sisters and brothers in Christ.
Pastor Keith Marshall