Change is – Well Change is in the Air

I am so excited that soon my car won’t be the only one in the parking lot!

I read a really fun book this week all about different personality traits and how they manifest in different people.  Actually – I more or less devoured the book in about 2 days.  I would have read it even more quickly – but Jason thought it would be healthy if I got up off the couch for some exercise.  And William – well Will just kept interrupting me with his unreasonable demands for food and attention.  I can’t believe that I have failed teach our 7 year old how to cook and clean and educate himself.  Total parenting fail!

So anyway – the book touched on several different popular personality assessments, and I simply adore this kind of stuff.  I love thinking about what makes all of us tick.  I find people so intriguing.  We are all so unique.  We are all hardwired so differently.

For instance – I am an introvert and so are Jason and Jack.  The 3 of us don’t talk to strangers.  But William is a great big, glorious extrovert.  Our little guy will talk to anyone – anywhere – at any time.  This winter – in life before COVID-19 – Will and I were in the Kroger liquor store buying communion wine for church (really – honest – it was communion wine – I promise).

And this is what I heard behind me.

“Hi I’m William.  But my mom calls me Will lots of the time.  What’s your name?”

“That’s my mom.  She is a pastor.  She is buying a whole bunch of bottles of wine for our friends at church.  We ran out of the good stuff (He was quoting me here.)  We drink wine at church in little cups – even the kids!  I have tried the wine – but I don’t really like it.  Lots of the old people seem to really like the wine.  Do you like wine?”

“So what are you buying?  Do you like it?  I like orange Fanta.”

“Do you have any little kids at your house that I could play with?  If you don’t have any little kids – maybe you could come to my house and we could play?  Hey – Mom can you tell this man where we live so that he can come over so that we can play?  He is nice!”

All of this in the time it took me to swipe the church debit card and enter the pen number!  I am not kidding. 

The nice gentleman – who must have been about 85 – smiled warmly at me and said – “Wow – that’s quite a friendly little fellow you have there.  I hope he isn’t too offended if I skip out on the invitation.  I am afraid that my hip replacements don’t let me keep up with the youngsters like I used to.”

If it had just been me getting the communion wine by myself that day – I would have smiled warmly at the gentleman behind me and probably shared – a friendly “hi” – but I would never have learned about his hip replacements . . .

Introverts make up around 40 % of the world’s population and extroverts make up the rest (even I could figure out that math).  Some people are incredibly empathetic.  Others make amazing leaders.  We are all different – and I love that about people.  If we were all the same – life would be incredibly boring and probably pretty predictable.

One of my own personality traits is that I am very – very – very change averse (which makes me a magnificent mainline Christian/Lutheran).  I don’t do change well at all.  I want to know what to expect and when to expect it.  I find change very stressful.  Change makes me nervous.

I don’t think that I am alone in wanting to know what to expect and when to expect it.  Even people who aren’t averse to change like being in the know. 

So I want to share with you what worship will be like at Saint Stephen when we resume in person worship in our sanctuary on Sunday, June 7th.

What follows is the plan that the Church council, Rod Firquin, and I have put together after much thought, prayer, and careful deliberation.

I understand that there is a lot to read through, but please do take the time to read through all of it.  This plan explains how we will be moving forward together as a Christian community in the weeks and months to come.

Change is not always easy.  We are all going to have to make changes and concessions.  Worship is going to look and feel quite different.  We are all going to have to adapt our behaviors so that we can safely gather together to worship our Lord.

But remember as Jesus told us and his disciples – “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:20.

We can do this together (at a safe social distance of course)!

You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

Worship at Saint Stephen in the Midst of COVID-19

We ask that folks stagger their arrival times when arriving at Saint Stephen for worship.  We ask that people please don’t wait to arrive for worship until the last few minutes as so many of us have done in the past.  If everyone waits until 9:55 am to arrive for worship – worship will not begin on time!

Folks will have to be very careful to maintain safe social distancing in the narthex as they arrive for worship.  Everyone will be asked to wear masks the entire time they are in the church (except when they are taking Holy Communion).  The governor recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask when out in public and that is the policy Saint Stephen will be following until our governor advises differently.

This is Will’s mask . . . just kidding!

When parking we ask that you park every other space in the parking lot too.  This will allow for safer social distancing outside (unless you are from the same household.)

As folks arrive for worship each person will need to collect their own worship attendance card and prepackaged Holy Communion from the table in the narthex where they will be placed each week in nice prepared, safe zip lock bags.  After collecting these items they will be encouraged to place their offerings in the offering plate and to proceed to their seats in the sanctuary so that the next people can do the same. Our narthex just isn’t big enough for us to linger safely en masse like we used to do.

We just can’t safely social distance in our narthex – well not very many of us can anyway.

We are going paper-less.  We will be projecting the spoken liturgy onto a screen in the sanctuary each Sunday.

Safely stored for now – but not forever!

We will prop open the doors to the narthex and to the sanctuary so that people are not touching the doors as they arrive for worship and as they exit from worship.  We will also prop open the door to the hall.

We can’t really prop open our bathroom doors, but we can place paper towels and hand sanitizer beside each door.  We will encourage people to use those when entering and exiting the bathrooms. 

Ask people to NOT go into the rest of the church.  We just don’t need to be in the offices or the classrooms or the fellowship hall or kitchen for the time being.  We will definitely have to close off the nursery.  We will not be able to provide nursery care for the foreseeable future.  

This is one of the many reason we can’t be in the fellowship hall right now. It has become a storage room!

The deacon will process in from the fellowship hall.  The deacon will serve as the acolyte and the reader for the foreseeable future to limit the amount of people in the chancel area.  The deacon will NOT be vesting.  We cannot share clothing during a pandemic!

Pastor Kerri will also process in from the fellowship hall.

There will be no singing of any kind or any chanting.  Pastor Kerri will rework our liturgy so that it is all spoken.

The deacon will serve as reader and will do the readings from the lectern.

Pastor Kerri will read the Gospel from where she preaches in the chancel.

We will not be able to safely have a children’s sermon.  (We can reassess this in mid-September.)

We will worship together – apart!

The deacon will lead the Prayers of the People from the lectern.  

We will have to omit the physical passing of the peace – but we will still speak the words to one another.  We can wish one another God’s peace.

We will have to omit the offering = the physical passing of the offering plates.  We will place an offering plate in the narthex where people can place their offerings to the Lord as they enter or exit worship.

For Holy Communion everyone will have their own Communion in their pews using pre-packed/pre-sealed grape juice and wafers.  Pastor Kerri will invite everyone to open their communion before she shares the Words of Institution and we pray the Lord’s Prayer together.  Then we will all receive/take communion together.  

Lots and lots of breathing room!

After we take communion we will all carefully place our empty communion cups and containers back into our zip-lock bags and seal them in preparation for throwing them away ourselves in the trash cans provided in the narthex following worship.  

We will need to ask people to exit worship mindfully and in a way that is safe.  Following the announcements Pastor Kerri or the deacon will direct people to leave pew by pew starting from the back of the church and working our way toward the front.  

As they exit, they will need to place their communion waste in a trash can and their worship attendance card in a basket on the table in the narthex (we can label all of these things – but no one can touch these items until they have had 72 hours to “breathe.”)

People will then need to head outside promptly so that the people behind them can leave the sanctuary.

Plenty of room to spread out and stretch our arms. You can all start talking like me now – lots of arm waving!

Again the doors to the sanctuary and the parking lot will need to be propped open to insure that people are not touching the doors.

We encourage people to chat in the parking lot at a safe social distance if they choose – but not in the church.

We understand that some of our members will not be able to join us at Saint Stephen for worship for the foreseeable future.  We will continue to post the sermons/worship services online each weekend.

One Reply to “Change is – Well Change is in the Air”

  1. I look forward to worshiping again in our sanctuary, no matter how different it looks. Everyone stay safe and make the best choices for you and your families.

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