“But O Lord, our Good Shepherd, the day to throw open our doors in rejoicing has come!”
Months ago SVLC’s church council assembled a task force to gather, dream up, and implement plans for a return to in-person worship at SVLC. Having kept a very close eye on both San Diego County Health Department and CDC guidelines for worshipping communities over the past year, we decided that with vaccination rates in our area rising substantially the time had come to begin the slow work of moving back towards worship together in-person.
These plans revolve around a threefold set of criteria we laid out together initially, emphasizing safety, evangelism, and faith. Below you will find all the pertinent information you’ll need for worship moving forward, including a timeline of our return, how we'll worship in-person in the sanctuary, and the kinds of precautions and changes we’ve implemented for the foreseeable future.
Please join me in saying a HUGE thank you to the task force and council members who have dedicated substantial time and energy into these initial plans, sinking many volunteer hours over these months into gathering information, discussing and debating, writing grants, and prayerfully working to gather us together once more. They’ve been an inspiration to me.
Gathering together in-person once again is a delightful gift, though the pandemic will continue to impact the way we do so for the foreseeable future. As such, the task force decided we would ease into these changes over three weeks. Given SVLC's previous pattern of moving to one service during the summer, we'll continue to worship at 9:30 A.M. through the end of the summer.
In-Person worship (indoors and outdoors) limited to task force members and their families. Worship will be live-streamed at SVLC.org/live (see below for more information).
After worship the reopening team will gather to evaluate our performance and make any necessary changes to enchance safety processes.
It may be the case that our task force learns on May 9th that we still have work to do before reopening the church doors. However, if worship runs smoothly on the 9th and the task force feels confident in our capacity to gather safely in-person, we may open for either or both indoor and outdoor worship with a little more capacity on the 16th. Look for more information early next week. Either way, worship will be live-streamed at svlc.org/live.
This is the day! We hope to have everything in place so that we can throw open the doors and worship as one on Pentecost. In-person worship will be limited to 40-50 persons (registered) indoors and up to 100 (registered or not) on the patio. Worship will be live-streamed at svlc.org/live.
We'll continue to learn, listen, and grow into this new chapter of worship life together as vaccination rates rise in our area. SVLC's council will continue listening to CDC and County Health officials as California State regulations change on June 15th. As the summer continues we'll announce how and when Sunday school will resume, and whether groups like Bible Study may resume use of our church facilities.
Worship will be live-streamed at svlc.org/live.
Emphasizing evangelism as a key piece of reopening criteria (strong center, open door), worship will take place in three ways simultaneously each Sunday.
With some new technology fully installed and ready to go, SVLC is migrating our online worship to YouTube. Starting this Sunday, all SVLC worship services will be live-streamed on YouTube, and viewable afterwards on a few different platforms. The easiest way to worship is to go to www.svlc.org/live, but these will also be available on our Facebook and YouTube pages after worship.
We’ve installed a new speaker out on the back patio so that SVLC members can bring their own chair (i.e., camping chair) and sit on the back patio during worship. For now this will be an audio-only service, but communion will be distributed outside for those attending. In-person outdoor worshippers are encouraged to follow the same basic guidelines laid out below for indoor worshippers.
SVLC is closely following all county and CDC guidelines for faith communities, and in most cases, taking our safety procedures a step further than recommended. Here are all the ways worship will be impacted for in-person indoor worship.
Indoor in-person worship will be limited initially to 40 persons, including leaders and volunteers. This capacity may increase in the coming weeks, but we are starting on the safe side.
Each week a registration link will be sent out to the congregation via email on Tuesday afternoon with clear instructions for registering for worship, in much the same way that Zoom links were sent out previously. Registration information will also be available on our website on Tuesday afternoons.
We’ve all grown quite accustomed to pandemic protocols by now, but let's just reiterate them here. Of course, masks must be worn throughout worship, and we ask that folks don’t shake hands or hug one another, however badly we all might want to. For the time being, singing will be limited, and worship will be shortened slightly. Also, we ask that restroom use be limited to one person at a time. Sanitizing stations will be set up around the church facility.
SVLC seating will be oriented to emphasize social distancing. Families will sit in pre-distanced pods in the sanctuary and follow the directions of ushers in finding their seats.
Our recent congregational survey indicated that over 80% of SVLC members are vaccinated. When county health officials heard of our high rates during a recent county health briefing they were ecstatic, holding SVLC as a model congregation for a return to in-person worship! As such, at this time vaccine status will not be a criteria for your return to worship.
If you are not vaccinated we ask that you please take extra caution when worshipping indoors in-person. Be extra careful limiting touch of surfaces, keeping extra distance from other members, sitting near an open door, and being sure to keep your mask on at all times. High-risk unvaccinated members are encouraged to double-mask.
It goes without saying, but anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (found here) or who knowingly has been exposed within 14 days of worship is asked to refrain from attending. If you’ve already registered, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll cancel your registration.
In general we ask that those planning to worship monitor their own health in the days leading up to worship.
It will take time to find our way back to one another for in-person worship. Each member of our community must individually navigate their own health issues and comfort levels as they decide when and how to worship in the coming weeks, weighing personal decisions against any potential risks. No matter how many precautions we've taken, ultimately the decision to return to in-person worship is yours.
SVLC's Council and Reopening Task Force have leaned in to Christ's command to love our neighbor by listening to scientists and following health department officials, though loving our neighbor is never a static reality. Moving forward, SVLC's leadership will continue to learn and listen, growing into this ever-changing chapter of life together.
Lutheran Christians deeply understand the need for — and gift of — grace. More than anything else, along this journey I ask for your grace. May the Spirit of gentleness, humility, and gratitude, guide our feet on this path together.
“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”