Dear members and visitors of Mount Moriah Lutheran Church,

On Monday, June 15, the Elders Brant Klepel and Tim Herschlip, President Don Vosberg, and Pastor Fiege developed a re-opening plan that we pray gives in-person worship opportunities for those who are comfortable with them, while also continuing to provide meaningful worship opportunities for those who must or choose to remain away from group worship for a time. We pray that the plan outlined below will help us remain in unity even in our diversity of opinions and comfort levels while the threat of this serious disease is still around us.

Mount Moriah Lutheran Church – Byron, Minnesota
 Precautionary Measures to be Followed during the Coronavirus Pandemic
June 16, 2020

  1. Group worship services will resume on Sunday, June 21st, 2020 according to our usual schedule. (Sundays at 10:45am).  We will not be holding Bible class / Sunday school or fellowship until further notice.
  2. Attendance at each service will be limited.  Our current seating capacity is about 35-40 persons in the sanctuary.
  3. Overflow seating for another 12-30 people will be available in the fellowship hall.  When the maximum number of people allowed at each service is reached, that service will be closed to any more worshipers.
  4. Persons who are at higher risk for severe illness are strongly encouraged to stay home.
  5. Persons who have had recent contact with an infected person must stay home.
  6. Before coming to worship each person should conduct a self-check and stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19.  Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.  Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  7. Worshipers who can do so are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering or mask.  Reference “Wearing a Mask to God’s House” letter by Pastor Schwartz.  If you do not have a mask, we will have some available at the church.  You will take the mask with you when you leave.
  8. Social distancing of at least six feet is required between people who do not live in the same household. (Members of the same house may sit together in the same pew.)
  9. Worshipers should have no physical contact with others not in their household; this includes shaking hands, fist bumps, hugs, etc.
  10. To maintain social distancing the pews have been re-arranged and every other row of pews will be marked as unavailable for seating.  No one is to sit in “closed” rows.  The usher will assist in identifying available spots for individuals and households if needed.  If members of different households sit in the same row, they will remain six feet apart.
  11. Upon arriving at church, worshipers should not congregate in the fellowship hall, but should move directly to the pew/chair they will occupy during the service.
  12. Hymnals, Bibles, Friendship Registers, and Communion cards will be removed from the pews.  Printed orders of worship will be placed in the pews.  If you need an extra one or a large print version, they will be on the tables in the fellowship hall.  You will take them with you when you leave.
  13. No offering plates will be passed during the service. Instead worshipers may place their offering in the plates near the east stairs or west exit.
  14. Children are to stay with their parents as much as possible while in the building. They should not be moving around on their own. They should also stay with their parents for the children’s message.
  15. The infant care room or playroom will be closed.  The children’s activity bags will also be put away.  Parents must bring their own items they feel are necessary for their little children.
  16. Since singing more forcefully expels respiratory droplets than does speaking, congregational singing will not be done.  Instead, please meditate on the words and melody.
  17. Holy Communion will be distributed in continuous line fashion. Communicants will come forward at the direction of the usher, maintaining a six-foot distance, guided by tape on the floor.  Each communicant will extend his/her hand to receive the dropped bread.  After eating the bread, the person will move to select an individual cup from the tray.  Please do not use your other hand to grab the tray.  After drinking, the communicant will deposit the empty cup in the designated container and return to his or her seat.  If children come forward, the pastor will speak a blessing but will not touch the child.
  18. At the end of the service, worshipers will be dismissed in an orderly fashion so to maintain six-foot distancing. The usher will dismiss households and individuals starting at the back of the church, proceeding to the front.  When dismissed people should move to leave the building, and not use the narthex for visiting.
  19. The pastors will wear masks before and after the service, but they will not do so during the service when they are leading worship. However, the elder and pastor will wear masks and use hand sanitizer when celebrating Holy Communion.
  20. Elders and ushers will wear masks when performing their duties.  The elder will perform the acolyte duties and the pastor will do the scripture readings until further notice. 
  21. Sanitation teams will ensure that frequently touched surfaces are cleaned appropriately before/after each worship service.
  22. Hand sanitizer and tissues will be available.  When you need to touch something, use hand sanitizer before/after or grab a tissue and use it to touch.
  23. The east and west doors will be propped open, if possible, as worshipers arrive and leave the church.  The south door will remain locked during this time.  Both restrooms will be open, but no more than one person or same household members should be in a restroom at any one time.
  24. Small groups of people may meet from time to time. Social distancing will still be required in whatever space is used and appropriate sanitation needs to be completed after the meeting.
  25. We will record the Sunday service audio and post it on our website the following Tuesday.  Worshipers who wish to stay home can still participate in worship by watching the Trinity service online.
  26. Worshipers who cannot agree to these measures and will not practice them are asked to stay home and wait for the time when these precautions are eased.

From the Minnesota Department of Health:

Underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age:

  • Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners).
  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis.
  • Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis). Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS).
  • Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks.
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus).
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders).
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease).
  • Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen.
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].

WEARING A MASK

TO GOD’S HOUSE

Many of you have noticed that Trinity’s Staff and leaders are STRONGLY RECOMMENDING that everyone wears a mask when they come to worship. And not a few have asked, “Why is that?”

Well, let’s think about that for a minute. Those returning to corporate worship may be a diverse group. Some will be young and healthy. But some may be more elderly. Some may have heart disease or be cancer patients. Others may be visitors here in town for surgery at the Mayo Clinic or are recovering from a recent surgery or procedure. Still others may struggle with chronic illnesses like diabetes or fibromyalgia. Some of these folks may be immunocompromised to some degree. All these Christian people don’t want to contract COVID-19.

Yes, many of the people in the above categories will likely choose not to return to corporate worship at this time. That’s understood, and even encouraged. But some might, out of desires to hear God’s Word in person, worship in Trinity’s sanctuary, or be with some of their brothers and sisters in Christ, even from at least six feet away.

That’s why everyone is encouraged to wear a mask. We put on a mask out of concern for our neighbor’s health and well-being. We want our neighbor to feel safe and secure when he or she comes to Trinity Lutheran Church. We want our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to have no fear when they say with the Psalmist, “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).

Wearing a mask certainly is a Fifth Commandment issue. Recall what Martin Luther said in his explanation to the commandment, “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.

People of God let us “help and support” your neighbor by wearing a mask when you come to worship at Trinity. We encourage you to wear your own if you have one. But if you need one, disposable masks (and lots of hand sanitizer) will be available in the communication center and in the narthex.

Rejoicing in Jesus,

Pastor Schwartz