Return to Worship COVID Guidelines


Brothers, Sisters, and Friends of Spruce Run Lutheran Church,

After careful consideration, the Congregation Council on Thursday, 18 June 2020, voted unanimously to open our doors for a modified in-person Service of the Word worship led by Pastor Molnar at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 28, 2020. We must emphasize that this is not “worship as usual”, and our on-line worship ministry will continue. It will be some time before we can go back to “worship as usual” if that is even possible. In the meantime, we have reviewed the available guidelines and recommendations and modified our worship space and worship procedures so that we can resume in-person worship. We are aware that at this time in-person worship is not for everyone and we encourage you to review these procedures and assess your personal risk before deciding to join us for in-person worship. In-person worship will be limited to a total of 50 total individuals in the sanctuary. While this is more than enough seating to accommodate a past typical Sunday worship at Spruce Run, we do not expect to be anywhere near capacity as we resume in-person worship. Council has proposed a Service of the Word as the first worship upon re-opening, but a modified communion is planned for introduction the following week.
A detailed re-opening document was approved by Council and that document (8 pages) is available on our website. Everyone is encouraged to review the detailed re-opening document. This note provides some of the key information from the approved re-opening document as well as additional details.

In order to assist with contact tracing, please let us know if you plan to attend by filling out the Contact Tracing Form.

SUMMARY OF MODIFICATIONS IN ORDER TO RESUME IN-PERSON WORSHIP:

  1. For now, the Council has divided the use of our facility.  The church will accommodate in-person worship upstairs and our two outside groups, AA and AL-ANON, will hold their meetings downstairs. This separation of use should add to the safe use of our facility.
    1.  Worshipers will enter, worship, and leave by the upper level of the church only. PLEASE DO NOT GO DOWNSTAIRS TO THE FELLOWSHIP HALL, LOWER BATHROOMS, or the KITCHEN AREA. Worshipers will be allowed to meet and worship in the sanctuary upstairs on Sunday ONLY.
    2. AA and AL-ANON attendees will be allowed to meet ONLY in the lower fellowship hall and ONLY during the week.
  2. Worshipers will enter the upper level from the parking lot on either side of the church through either of the upper-level doors in the back. The front sanctuary doors and the lower-level fellowship hall door will be labeled “EXIT ONLY” and these doors will remain locked on Sunday so that only emergency exit would be possible.
  3. PLEASE BRING A MASK TO WORSHIP. Everyone will be required to wear a face mask at all times while in the building. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided.
  4. SOCIAL DISTANCING will be required through the use of carpet markings and seating arrangements. You may not be able to sit in your usual location due to the seating restrictions. Some row-sections seat ZERO, some row-sections seat 2, some 3 and some 4 (seating for 4 is only in the back of the sanctuary). Family groups and those quarantining together may sit together in a row-section. There should be no mixing of family groups in a row-section. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE, CHANGE OR ADJUST THE SEATING MARKS IN THE SANCTUARY AS THEY ARE DESIGNED FOR PROPER SOCIAL DISTANCING.
  5. At the present time, there will be NO SINGING and NO LOUD RECITATIONS (we will hum and whisper the service) as singing and loud recitation may result in a less-safe environment.
  6. Given the current restrictions, we will encourage everyone to enter and go directly to a seat in the sanctuary prior to the start of worship at 10 a.m. We will also encourage everyone to exit the sanctuary through the same doors as entry (the street-side red doors are for emergency exit only at this time) and go directly to the parking lot without lingering in the lounge or hallway.
  7. Please BE SURE TO KEEP A PROPER SOCIAL DISTANCE FROM OUR GUEST PASTOR. We are as committed to ensuring an as safe as possible environment for our guest pastor as we are for our worshipers.
  8. Please register on-line through our website to attend worship. Prior to attending, please review the personal risk items provided on-line.
  9. If you are ill or have been in a high-risk setting in the past 14 days (air travel, travel outside the US, contact with a known COVID patient, etc.) please consider avoiding in-person worship for 14 days and take advantage of our on-line worship program.
  10. Our Sextons have studied the guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing the church and are conducting the recommended procedures with the recommended cleaning and sanitizing agents. The sanctuary will be cleaned and sanitized once each week in preparation for Sunday worship and should not be entered by anyone during the week. The lower fellowship hall will be cleaned and sanitized prior to each group’s meeting. The lower fellowship hall should not be entered by anyone during the week other than the scheduled meetings of AA and ALANON.
  11. The ushers have been asked to confirm that worshipers have registered and are in good health to participate. It is possible to register “at the door” but this will delay entry for all who follow.

 The text below is taken from the approved re-opening document and the complete document is available for review on-line.

The following changes will be implemented in support of the new worship recommendations:

  1. Signs posted
    1. “Exit Only” signs on exterior doors that are not to be used (lower door to the fellowship hall and front red doors)
    2. “Enter Here” signs on exterior doors that are to be used (2 upper doors to/from the parking lots)
    3. “Stop the Spread” signs in bathrooms to guide personal hygiene
    4. “Stop the Spread” signs on entry doors
    5. “Maintain Social Distance” signs on the floor at the entrance to building and sanctuary
    6. Ropes on pew seats not to be used
    7. Floor markings to facilitate social distancing along the hallways and interior walkways
  2. Masks are to be worn during service by parishioners. A mask will be provided if a parishioner does not have one.
  3. Soap and hand sanitizer gel available in the bathrooms
  4. Hand sanitizer gel available at the entrance to the sanctuary from the lounge
  5. Hand-held items removed from the sanctuary (no hymnals, cards, or pencils)
  6. Collection plates are on tables at the front of the sanctuary but are not to be touched or carried. Collection should be mailed, donated on-line, or dropped into the stationary plate at worship.
  7. The Sexton schedule is to clean and disinfect the sanctuary and lounge area prior to each worship service
  8. There will be no singing or loud recitation. Hymns and recitations should be mouthed or whispered under the mask with minimal breathing. The organ will be played only during hymns. The remainder of the service will be spoken (softly).
  9. Communion, when available, will be provided by presenting the wine and wafer in pre-filled disposable cups/papers that are prepared by a single masked and gloved altar attendant prior to the service. The pastor will commune themselves during the service, but parishioners will commune after worship as they exit the sanctuary. A disposal bin for communion refuse will be provided at the exit door of the sanctuary.
  10. The Altar area behind the rail will be rearranged to limit use of the steps and to maximize the distance between the service leader and all others. Only the service leader will be behind the rail.
  11. The service leader will sit behind the rail and use the large lectern behind the rail.
  12. The service assistant will sit on the side in the choir area and use the small lectern which will be moved into the choir area (there will be no choir)
  13. Seating has been marked to comply with recommended social distancing
  14. Bulletins will contain the entire worship service including hymns and recitations and will be placed on available seats by a gloved attendant prior to the service and should be taken home after each service by the parishioner. Ushers will not “hand out” bulletins to worshipers.
  15. Everyone who attends worship is asked to consider the following questions in order to help support as safe a worship environment as possible:
    1. Are you ill with fever, chills, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing? (If yes please stay home and recover.)
    2. In the past 14 days have you been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19? (If yes please take advantage of our on-line worship program and stay home for the full 14 days.)
    3. Are you currently waiting for results from your own COVID-19 test? (If yes please take advantage of our on-line worship program and stay home until you know the result.)
    4. Have you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days? (If yes please take advantage of our on-line worship program and wait a full 14 days before coming to worship in person.)

Have you been in a high-risk setting in the past 14 days (air travel, travel outside the US, etc.) if so please consider avoiding in-person worship for 14 days and take advantage of our on-line worship program.

Yours in Christ,
The Congregation Council

Spruce Run Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church Re-opening Plan

Supporting documentation used to develop plan:

Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith – CDC

EO- 153 – Outdoor Gatherings

EO-152 – Indoor Gatherings

ELCA 12 May 2020 Letter

Bishop NJ Synod Letter May 22, 2020

Bishop NJ Synod Letter May 13, 2020 – Returning to church buildings