Grace and Peace to you all.
On a beautiful Sunday morning, May 30th, roughly 70 of our Family of Faith gathered in our parking lot and worshiped together. We sang together, prayed together, shared our joys and concerns, and heard God’s word together and in-person for the first time in over 425 days. It was a beautiful moment in the life of the church.
Gathering together outdoors has me looking forward to our return to in-person worship indoors. As long as vaccination and COVID-19 transmission trends continue, we will welcome back members and friends to our sanctuary on Sunday, July 4th, for a single service at 9:30 a.m. I thank you for your prayers and patience as we sought to navigate this pandemic thoughtfully, prayerfully, and guided by our bedrock belief that we should be a church for all people. Our service on July 4th is the culmination of these efforts.
As we prepare to worship together, I wanted to share with you a bit of what to expect when you come to worship, and remind you of some important measures to keep in mind.
After a thoughtful review of the Center for Disease Control, Wisconsin Council of Churches, state and local recommendations, we will welcome members, visitors, and friends to worship masked for those yet to be vaccinated, and mask optional for those who are fully vaccinated. As many children who are outside the current vaccination availability call this church home, I ask that those who interact with masked individuals and young children to please wear a mask when doing so. Please consider bringing a mask with you to worship regardless of your complete vaccination status, and consider being open to wearing one if asked. As Pastor, I will also wear a mask when visiting with those who are masked and younger children.
Thanks to our new air conditioning system, our sanctuary will be comfortable for the start of worship. Best practices suggest that our ventilation system be turned off for the balance of in-person worship so as not to further circulate air. Windows and doors will be opened to facilitate air flow.
We have designated the balcony and the Gathering Space as seating for those who desire greater physical distance when attending worship. The main floor seating is available for everyone, and we ask that different family groups or individuals observe a recommended physical distance.
Current Center for Disease Control guidelines indicate that fully vaccinated individuals are safe to sing in worship with or without wearing a mask. Those not fully vaccinated are also able to sing as they chose while wearing a mask. The Music Team helping to lead worship will usually be without masks but may wear a mask depending on circumstances.
Starting July 4th, our services will take place once per Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the sanctuary. The format of these services will mirror our traditional Summer worship services with a blend of music, a less formal style, and encouragements to come as you are in regards to clothing. Bulletins will be provided for those who desire one. The projection screen will be used extensively each service to display prayers, lyrics, sermon materials, and the like. Hymnals, Bibles, and other pew items will not be available for use. Perhaps the biggest change will be in the way we will receive the Offering. Plates for the Offering will no longer be passed in worship, and those seeking to show signs of commitment and generosity are asked to use the Offering Box found in the Gathering Space. Offering can continue to be made online, via mail, or however you have given previously. The COVID-19 Task Force is exploring the use of an online “pew pad” system whereby worship attendance and those in attendance for worship can be accessed and utilized if the need arises.
Nursery, Childcare, and Cry Room
The Nursery, commonly called the Crib Room, will not be open at this time. There will be no staffed childcare. The Cry Room located off the sanctuary will be available for those in need. Our Christian Education team is exploring the use of take home, single use kits for children in worship. These individual kits would contain crayons, coloring pages, a Children’s Bulletin, and other activities.
Fellowship After Worship
At this time there will be no coffee or refreshments served indoors, and those seeking to visit with each other are encouraged to do so outdoors on the shaded porch, in the garden, or in the parking lot as they see fit. The Deacons may relocate post-worship “Coffee Hour” outdoors, but it will be at their discretion. Special times of fellowship will be planned for after worship as they have before, but all those events will take place outside as the weather allows.
Visitors to Worship
Wauwatosa Presbyterian understands itself to be a place of welcome to all of God’s Children, and this commitment is not subject to change. Visitors will be allowed in worship just as they have before. Notices posted will inform those visiting that masks are required for those not fully vaccinated, and worshiping with us without a mask is a sign of your full vaccination. Notice of our expectations for one another will be posted in the building and will be included in every bulletin until the time comes that it is no longer necessary.
In all things, I pray that we might trust one another, and believe that those who come to worship are here to find community in Christ and through Christ. We will not ask for proof of vaccinations or take temperatures at the door. Our communal life together will be treated like the covenant it truly is, one we have made with Christ and one another. Every mitigation and protocol in place hinges on the covenant we have made with one another and with Christ as part of this congregation.
Lastly, I understand that some will have questions and perhaps concerns, and others will not feel comfortable worshiping in person until a time to come. As your Pastor, I support your decision to attend or not to attend in-person worship. Online worship opportunities will continue once in-person worship resumes, and it is my hope that those unable or unwilling to gather in-person at this time will worship together with us online.
For those of you with questions about our reopening plan, worship, and what to expect when we return to in-person worship and operations, please see the letter from the Task Force, reach out and contact me at email@example.com, or call the church office at (414) 774-5005. Members of the COVID-19 Task Force are also available to answer your questions and can be reached at the below email addresses.
Kevin Sjostrom firstname.lastname@example.org
Cathy Usher email@example.com
Mark VanderKinter firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Coulling email@example.com
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Rev. Brett Swanson