Saron Evangelical Lutheran Church
Pastor Joan Oleson
Church Office
(269) 983-1273

Re-Opening Status and Guide for Ministry During the Covid-19 Outbreak

Updated: September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020


Dear friends,

Saron’s council met Tuesday evening to discern whether this is the best time for Saron to return to worship in the building.  After an hour’s discussion and wrestling with the issues, it was a unanimous decision to delay that return for now, with the intent of re-visiting the decision at our October 19 council meeting, making the earliest date of return on November 1.  I believe it fair to say that we all want to return to in-person, in-the-building worship and we want to do it in a manner and time that we feel is safe to do so.

We know this will bring disappointment for many and relief for others.  The surveys that were returned said as much.  With that understanding we would like to share with you some of the thoughts that went into the decision.

  • The desire to give time and space from the Labor Day holiday weekend and the beginning of the school year to learn of their effects
  • Consideration of the governor’s executive order that indoor gatherings do not exceed 10 persons, even though churches are not bound by that order
  • Attention to CDC guidelines and recommendations, as well as churchwide and synod recommendations
  • Acknowledgement of Saron’s survey that gave a wide range of responses both in terms of timing of return and persons’ ability to help
  • Allows time to train the many volunteers needed weekly, secure a volunteer coordinator (or team), and thorough cleaning of a space that has not been used for months
  • The amount of work needed by staff and volunteers to maintain the safety of the community
  • Recognition that Zoom has worked well in offering a good, safe worship experience and that in-the-building worship will not provide all that pre-Covid19 worship could, such as (but not limited to) singing, as well as pre and post worship conversations with friends

As you can see, this was not a quick or easy decision.  We ask your understanding in this decision and welcome your questions.  In the meantime, know that your council is working diligently toward safely re-opening.  Please watch for invitations to outdoor, small group gatherings for Holy Communion, as weather permits.  Know, too, that the remainder of the building continues to remain closed to in-person gatherings. 

Above all, our concern is for your health and safety, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Yours in Christ,

Karen P. Johnson, Congregation President
Joan E. Oleson, Pastor


A Guide for Ministry During the Covid-19 Outbreak


The purpose of this document is to provide the leadership and congregation a guideline as we move through the Covid-19 outbreak, plans for re-opening and continued ministry in what is likely months and years of a new normal until we are past the pandemic. Our desire is to provide for the health and safety of God’s people. We realize that moving ahead will not necessarily mean a linear timeline, but may involve movement back and forth, due to the progression and regression of Covid-19. Close and prayerful discernment will be used as we pay close attention to guidelines from the following:


 

At the time of this writing, Michigan has entered Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Open policy.

 

At this time we do not have a specific date for re-opening, either with worship or small groups. When it is deemed safe to do by both council members and pastor, the following will be part of our new norm. This list is not all inclusive and will be updated, as appropriate. Consideration may also be given to outdoor worship.

 

Thank you for your patience! Updates will be provided (and dated) as available.

 

WORSHIP

 

  • Persons who fall into the high-risk category are encouraged to continue worshipping through Zoom, and not in-person. Zoom will continue to be offered weekly for the foreseeable future.
  • Anyone who is feeling ill, or has been exposed to Covid-19, should stay home.
  • Physical distancing will be followed. Certain pews will be marked off to help with this. Family units will be allowed to sit together.
  • Masks will be worn. Worshippers are asked to bring their own, with masks available for those whoarrive without one.
  • Hand-sanitizing stations will be available.
  • Holy Communion will not be offered during our first weeks back until we become acquainted with new norms. Even then, distribution will be nuanced from present practices.
  • Guidance will be offered for foot traffic.
  • Not all areas of the building will be open, including bathrooms, except for emergency.
  • There will be no physical greeting of peace, no receiving line by the pastor before/after worship, no congregating for a coffee hour. Attendees are strongly encouraged to leave the building immediately after worship.
  • There will be no singing or childcare provided.
  • Sanitizing of all hard surfaces will take place after each worship. This includes all spaces from entry door to and in the sanctuary, including handrails and narthex.
  • There will be a recording of all persons in attendance, including phone numbers and email addresses so notification can take place, in the event a case of Covid-19 becomes known.
  • Any person who becomes ill with Covid-19 within 14 days of attending a church event will contact the church office or pastor immediately so contact tracing can go into effect.
  • A plan will be in effect for notifying attendees if a case of Covid-19 becomes known and a plan foradditional cleaning will be enacted. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html
  • Offerings will be received via electronic giving or through a stationary drop off plate.

 

SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS


  • Groups of 10 or fewer will be allowed once given approval by the council.
  • When possible, Zoom meetings are encouraged, especially with groups where potential attendees fall into the high-risk category.
  • Anyone who is feeling ill, or has been exposed to Covid-19, should stay home.
  • Any person who becomes ill with Covid-19 within 14 days of attending a church event will contact the church office so contact tracing can go into effect.
  • Physical distancing will be in order, as well as the wearing of face masks.
  • Sanitizing of all hard surfaces will take place after all meetings. This includes all spaces from entry door up/down into meeting room, including handrails.
  • There will be a recording of all persons in attendance, including phone numbers and email addresses so notification can take place, in case a Covid-19 is made known by someone in attendance.
  • There will be no physical contact between attendees, outside of those of immediate family units.

 

OFFICE

 

  • Physical distancing will be in order, as well as the wearing of face masks.
  • Sanitizing of all hard surfaces will take place upon entry of the building. This includes all spaces from entry door up into office space, including handrails.
  • Office workers, including pastor will record his/her attendance so notification can take place, in case a Covid-19 is made known by someone in attendance.
  • Any person who becomes ill with Covid-19 will contact the pastor and/or church office so contact tracing can go into effect.
  • Anyone who is feeling ill, or has been exposed to Covid-19, should stay home.
  • Entry doors will remain locked until deemed appropriate to open, per the council.
  • In-person work at the building will continue to operate at a minimum.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

 

Other uses of the building or grounds by groups should get the express authorization of pastor and council with above guidelines being observed. Details to be worked out between group leader/pastor. No additional groups will be invited to use the facility at this time.