On April 27th, Governor Reynolds updated her disaster proclamation loosening some restrictions throughout the state of Iowa. According to this proclamation, Mass Gatherings, Section 6, “Spiritual and religious Gatherings are not prohibited by this section, but a church, synagogue, or other host of a spiritual or religious gathering shall implement reasonable measures under the circumstances of each gathering, etc...”
On May 8th the Board of Elders met with Pastor to discuss re-opening Grace for in-person services. It was agreed that we would tentatively schedule the re-opening for June 7th and would offer communion for that Sunday.
In this mailing you will find print-outs of the guidelines and recommendations from the state and from the Center for Disease Control. We will try to abide by these guidelines the best we can. We are limited in resources to be able to perform all of the suggestions.
We discussed at length sanitation issues. Everyone agreed that if we only have 1 service a week on Sundays, we should not have to worry about the covid19 virus lingering on surfaces. All the data show it does not last 7 days.
We will implement social distancing in the Sanctuary. Every other pew will be blocked off. Families can sit together in one pew. Non-family members should allow at least 6 feet between others in the same pew. Everyone should do their best to maintain appropriate social distancing.
When entering the building for Divine Service, members are asked to maintain at least 6 feet of space with others. Members should not stop and talk with others, but instead go directly to the sanctuary and be seated. We know that most of us have not had contact with our church family, but we must use caution and follow guidelines to assure that re-opening our church does not lead to spread of the disease.
Jill Rich has volunteered to make masks for the congregation. She will have them available in a basket when entering the church. These masks are re-usable. Please drop them off in the basket when leaving and they will be washed for use at the next service.
Hymnals should be safe to use. All members are free to take a hymnal home for use at home and for future church services.
Communion will be offered by Pastor Kane. Ushers will control the lines and make sure that we don’t violate the proper distancing. Pastor Kane will serve the wafer as usual and the cup will be individual cups set-up for self-serving. Pastor will use hand sanitizer before serving and will have a mask on.
The Service bulletins and the offering plates will be set-up outside the sanctuary. Please place offerings in when entering or leaving and take a bulletin.
At the conclusion of service, members should exit in the same manner as they entered. One pew at a time should exit and everyone should continue to maintain proper distance. Once again, we know how much our Christian Fellowship means to everyone, but congregating in the church without maintaining social distance will not be good for us.
All members are asked to take care of their personal sanitation and protection. Masks are encouraged but, not required. There will be some hand sanitizer bottles available, but again we have limited supplies. Please bring your own sanitizing wipes and liquid if available. Extra caution should be used if entering the restrooms. Again, we don’t have the resources to sanitized these facilities after each use.
Any member that has symptoms of the covid19 virus, or has been exposed recently to someone who has the virus should not attend. Our congregation has many of the most vulnerable people in this pandemic. It is all of our responsibility to gather safely and responsibly.
Pastor will continue to record the Divine Service and post on YouTube. You can find this video on YouTube if you search for Grace Lutheran Church Waterloo Iowa. Make sure you type all the way through Waterloo Iowa. There is another Grace Lutheran in Watertown SD and that may be what tries to come up in your search. If you don’t have the internet or the ability to find YouTube, ask children or grandchildren to help. Communion is also available through Pastor by appointment. Please contact the church office if you would like to set this up.
Pastor will also lead Bible Study after the service. This will take place in the Sanctuary. Please remain there after service if you wish to attend.
All other church groups are also allowed to start meeting starting the week of June 1st as they feel comfortable. These groups should also practice safe gathering guidelines when they do decide to meet.
Monday Services will not be resuming at this time. This would be too difficult to accommodate with the sanitizing that would have to occur between Sunday and Monday.
Pastor would still like to have an Easter Service and we are looking at a Sunday in July for this. We will not try to have all the Holy Week services.
For future communications, please see the Grace website, call the church office, or call one of the Elders. We will make the decision whether to proceed with the June 7th date by May 28th. The Board and Pastor will continue to monitor guidelines and effects on our congregation after re-opening and adjust accordingly.