Let Us Go to the House of the LORD!

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1)

Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

In my lifetime, our current circumstances are unprecedented: 11 weeks in a row where we could not “go to the house of the LORD” as His people to hear His Word and eat from His Table. It gives me great joy to say that this time of fasting appears to be coming to an end! We are making plans to gather again at Immanuel for Divine Service on Sunday, June 7, at 8 AM and 10:30 AM.

Immanuel’s Elders have met many times during the quarantine to discuss the challenges of caring for the flock during this pandemic. Perhaps the most challenging question we have faced is the one before us now: when and how to resume in-person gatherings (how to maintain social distance and limit crowd size, whether or not to require masks, to sing or not to sing, commune or not commune, how to protect children and those at risk, etc.). Opinions about these topics vary widely, so they are all potentially divisive.

What follows are some guidelines according to which we are planning to resume our gatherings. These we offer out of a desire to see God’s people again in His house around His Word & Gifts, in the safest way we know how at the moment. These guidelines are not perfect, but were conceived in the spirit of what St. Paul urges the Ephesian church: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1 – 3)

If you desire to come, please allow these guidelines to inform your behavior and decisions. If you will continue to remain home, please continue to reach out to me (864.607.3496 or revjvan29681@yahoo.com) with any pastoral care needs. God continues to be with us (“Immanuel”) wherever we may be. Thanks be to God.

Pastor VanOsdol

General considerations:

  • Request that anyone with fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or other symptoms of illness stay home and continue to watch online
  • Recommend that “high-risk” individuals such as the elderly, the immunosuppressed, and those with pulmonary disease stay home and continue to watch online
  • Encourage the use of masks (except during Communion Distribution, when servers will be masked)
  • Continue to make the entire Service available online, being aware of changes to that experience when there are people in the room
  • Recommend that families bring their own hand sanitizer to use
  • Remove Busy Bags; parents should bring their own “busy supplies” from home
  • No Sunday School or Adult Bible Class will be offered at this time

Before & After Services:

  • Encourage people to talk/visit outside (at an appropriate distance) rather than inside the building
  • No coffee hour food or beverages
  • No nametags
  • Print all hymns and liturgy in the Bulletin
  • Greeters open doors for people or prop open (to limit door handle touching)
  • Open doors to Sanctuary with fans turned on to circulate fresh air and disperse potential aerosols
  • Sanitize common surfaces (chairs, door handles, bathrooms)

Service changes:

  • Remove attendance books and hymnals
  • Place Bulletins on a table in the Narthex
  • Place Offering Plate in Narthex
  • Nursery will not be staffed
  • No Sharing of the Peace
  • Chairs will be arranged in the Sanctuary in groups of 2, 4 and more to create space between family units (Ushers/Elders will be available to add a chair or two in appropriate locations to accommodate larger family units)