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: June 18, 2020

Dear friends,

 

As the state begins to re-open during the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to give you an update as to where Saron is, in regard to both re-opening the building and in-person worship. 

 

A small group has met via Zoom to help in the discernment of moving forward, paying close attention to the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC, the state of Michigan, and the church (both synod and national).  This group consists of Karen Johnson, council president; Krin Jurgensen, worship chair; Brad Frey, facilities liaison; Betsy Becker, health professional; and Pastor Joan.  The resulting guidelines for re-opening and implementation of those guidelines was presented to, and discussed by, Saron’s congregation council on Monday, June 15.  The council spent a great deal of time looking at what is needed, also taking into consideration their own places of work and how Saron’s guidelines paralleled those places.

 

Of primary consideration to re-opening is that it be done in a way that provides for the greatest safety of those who will be attending ministry events within the Saron walls, both on Sundays and mid-week.  We do this out of concern for all, with special attention given to those who are most at risk in contracting the coronavirus.  With that in mind, it was the consensus of the council that we do not begin worship or other activities at this time, even while we work behind the scenes to have things ready, when we deem the time is right. We will re-visit that decision at our July meeting.

 

We thank you for your understanding.  We understand that many are anxious to get back into the building and be together.  We also realize that many of the hopes of joining together (singing, greeting one another with a handshake or hug, conversing before and after worship, regular Communion practice) cannot happen at this time, even if we were to meet in-person.  Continuing to worship on Zoom, holding meetings and studies via Zoom, while not optimal, is working and continues to be the best option at the moment.

 

Attached you will find the guidelines for Saron’s re-opening.  We hope that by reading them you will have a greater understanding of what is involved in re-opening and why we are waiting.  The task force listed above, or any council member, as well as Pastor Joan, would be happy to entertain your questions.

 

In Christ,

 

Karen Johnson, Saron Congregation President

Joan 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.