April 28, 2021
Dear Congregation of the Blawenburg Reformed Church,
I am writing today to share the news that the leadership board of our church has decided on a date and a plan for reopening our sanctuary for in-person worship. On Sunday, May 2, we will once again welcome worshipers to our sanctuary. The service will begin at 9:30am. We plan to stream this service live over Zoom and Facebook Live for those who will continue to rely on remote worship. We will be making changes to our style of worship service and holding to certain safety policies within the sanctuary to help ensure the safety of everyone in attendance each week.
Masks - We will be requiring that worshipers wear conventional face masks that cover their noses and mouths for the entire time that they are inside the building. Double masking is encouraged. Wearing a mask will not be optional, but required. The preacher WILL be allowed to remove his or her mask, during at least the sermon, for the sake of clearer communication. There will be a plexiglass barrier in front of the preacher to divert his/her breath.
Pews - We will be allowing people to sit only in certain pews and marking off other pews so that worshipers will be safely spaced throughout the sanctuary. Our maximum capacity will be determined based on available seating in this arrangement. For now, seating will be first-come, first-serve.
Ventilation - We will be ventilating the sanctuary by opening certain doors and windows and by running fans in the sanctuary during our services. If it is a chilly morning, it might be chilly in the sanctuary so dress appropriately!
Check-in Table - Before entering the sanctuary, everyone will need to stop at our check-in table:
Health and Exposure: At the check-in you will be asked if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or if there is a chance that you were exposed to someone who was positive with Covid-19. If so, you will be asked to refrain from entering the sanctuary.
Attendance Records: At the check-in table we will be taking attendance and asking for contact information for the purpose of contact tracing.
Reporting Illness: At the check-in table you will receive a card that explains the responsibility and process for reporting to the church if you become ill or have a positive COVID-19 test after attending a worship service.
Style of the Service
Shorter Length Services - The service will be shorter in length than the typical hour-long service because the longer we spend indoors the greater the risk.
Singing – At this time we will not be singing during in-person worship. We will use instrumental or recorded music during the service.
No Communion - At this time we are not planning to celebrate communion.
Offering - Offering plates will be placed where congregants can leave offerings before or after the services. We will not be passing a plate or asking ushers to move throughout the sanctuary.
Passing of the Peace – We will not be “passing the peace” in our traditional way of walking through the sanctuary to shake hands with one another.
Fellowship – Following the closing blessing everyone will be expected to leave the sanctuary and visit in the safety of the outdoors. We are asking that no one engages in conversation in the sanctuary or parlor before or after the services, but instead that we all go outdoors for our conversations and fellowship.
Live Stream – We plan to stream our services live on Zoom and Facebook Live so that everyone can continue to have the option to worship remotely.
We understand that choosing to offer this style of in-person worship comes with a certain amount of risk. It is true that COVID-19 continues to be a very real danger. While it is still the safest option to worship remotely, the church leaders believe that with the availability of the vaccines and the warming weather, which allows for ventilation, it is time to carefully return to in-person worship.
Just like choosing to go to a grocery store, hair salon, restaurant, or other activities, everyone will need to decide what is the right level or risk for themselves and their loved ones. We have tried to strike a balance between what is safe and what is needed for a meaningful service of worship. Safety is our collective responsibility. As you make your decisions about how to worship, please remember that in faithfulness to God we need to work together to ensure the safety of everyone in our extended church community. Whether you join us for worship in-person or remotely, I look forward to worshiping with you!
Sincerely, Pastor Jeff
Following you will find the health and safety form that must be filled out and returned at the beginning of each service. You may wish to print it, fill it out, and bring it with you to the service on Sunday. This will save you the time of filling it out once you get here. There will be blank forms available each Sunday morning for you to take home and fill out before you attend the next service. There is also a blank form for you to download at the top of this letter.
Welcome to In-Person Worship
The help ensure the safety of all who attend the service, the following policies have been implemented:
A mask must be worn properly (covering both mouth and nose) at all times. Failure to do so will result in the cancelation of the service.
We will not be singing and there will be no responsive readings.
Please sit in a seat that is available and remain there during the entire service.
You are attending this service at your own risk. We ask that you please fill out the following questionnaire and take the Covid 19 Illness Notification card with you.
Name ________________________________________________ Date___________________
Are you currently experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, feel ill? (Please circle your answer)
Have you traveled outside New Jersey in the last 10 days? (Please circle your answer)
Have you had any exposure within the last 10 days to a person with known Covid 19? (Please circle your answer)
Please note that if someone attending today develops Covid 19 within the next 10 days we will notify you so that you might take the necessary precautions.