GUIDELINES FOR IN-PERSON GATHERING
St. Andrew Lutheran Church of Canyon Lake
On Not Having to Choose… at this point, local hospitals are filled to overflowing, and, while we haven’t had any members hospitalized for COVID in several months to my knowledge, it is certainly affecting us as many people are having needed procedures and surgeries delayed, or having trouble getting a room to stay in when coming into the hospital through the ER. As a congregation, we are not in a place where we have to choose between having a full congregational life of worship and mission or being part of the solution for our neighbors and community. We can do both. Ministry is in full swing with appropriate accommodations, and we have three ways to worship: 8:30 AM outdoor, indoor 10:00AM, and 10:00AM livestream. As important as worship and the work we do together is, I think it is also essential to who we are as disciples of Jesus to be on the forefront of protecting our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable. Thankfully, with a little flexibility and creativity, we don’t have to choose.
If you are sick, stay home – and let us know, so we can pray for you and be in touch to support you.
May 14, 2021
It feels like a milestone to hear from the CDC what the data has been increasingly suggesting: there is very little danger of transmission outdoors; vaccinated people are not getting sick; vaccinated people are not transmitting the virus, either.* (*we now know this is not necessarily the case) The new guidance is that masks or spacing are not necessary in most situations for those who are fully immune - 2 weeks after the last vaccination.
Watching these trends, our church leaders have been relaxing protocols and were looking at relaxing more. Our goal has been to welcome back the maximum number of people who want to be in-person. We will follow this change in recommendation gladly, in worship and other gatherings.
Of course, all continue to be more than welcome, vaccinated or not. Anyone is welcome to wear a mask, out of caution or simply out of solidarity with those who need to. It is fine to keep your distance or to ask that others give you ample space. I am sure you will all be understanding toward each other, as you have been, as we all have to deal with our own circumstances the best we can.
Look for more ways to connect as we add fellowship, youth, and other activities to the church schedule. We will continue to offer and emphasize outdoor possibilities, to be as inclusive as possible, especially of children, who have a ways to go yet to achieve immunity.
March 4, 2021
We will continue with the practices we have in place – staying home if symptomatic, distancing, masks, favoring outdoors – and hope to gradually phase them out over the next few months if hospitalizations and case numbers improve. The church has found ways to meet our core missions, including offering different options for worship, and members have been very thoughtful, and willing to sacrifice for the common good.
We are in this together, to the end. As one body in Christ, we resist such divisions when we can, and “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) and let the suffering of one member be the suffering of all (I Cor. 12:26, etc.). As we have already done regarding age, pre-existing conditions, etc., we should also bear with one another during this time.
We don’t need to hurry. We are entering into some of our best weather of the year, and I think we can plan this last phase (may it be the last!) as a time we will remember fondly as time spent together outdoors. We will be doing more things outdoors, and if you haven’t tried outdoor worship, I recommend it.
It isn’t much to ask. All the protocols are really pretty simple – they just go against some of our instincts to want to be together, and our habits of hospitality in more normal times. If we are honest, at most they are an inconvenience. For right now, hospitality looks like smiling eyes above a mask, several feet away; we have learned a new language for caring about each other, but the message is the same.
October 18, 2020
Starting this week and for the foreseeable future, we plan to welcome those who wish to attend worship in-person to do so. Below is a Church Council resolution spelling out some details, especially regarding what to do if you have been exposed to Covid-19 and how the church will respond to a potential exposure.
This decision is based on current trends and patterns, so, of course, it may still need to change. Obviously, if and when we have local outbreaks or significantly increased transmission, we will have to respond accordingly. If we suddenly had everybody coming at once, we would not be able to maintain proper spacing. And if we have a problem with adhering to health and safety procedures, we will have to address that. But it is our hope that this is the right time for this move, and it can proceed smoothly as you all use your best judgment.
The other worship options will continue, and indeed, this way forward relies on some people continuing to use those options. In all of this, thank you for your patience.
Approved June 14
As we have moved into a time of allowing some in-person gathering, groups within the church and groups that use church facilities have asked for guidance. If and when the guidelines are changed, we will update these postings.
1. Gathering outdoors is always preferable to indoors.
2. Spacing of 6 feet between people must be maintained.
3. The size of groups must not exceed what the space, indoor or outdoor, can hold with proper distancing.
4. Any indoor group larger than 10 people must use masks.
5. Groups of any size gathering indoors anywhere other than the large spaces (sanctuary, fellowship halls) must use masks.
Hand sanitizer and masks are available in the office and sanctuary.
February 1, 2021
We all have gotten better at following the numbers, and some get worse while others get better. One number we have learned to watch is hospitalizations – even if numbers at the Lake are better than surrounding areas, we do all share the same hospitals, so that is one we try to follow. Vaccinations, of course, are a promising number, and many in our congregation have begun their journey toward immunity. We expect our limits on activities will continue through this month, but at some point we will find ourselves on a path of consistent progress in the right direction. It won’t happen all at once, but what a joy that will be! Hang in there.