Guidelines for Indoor Worship Services

Last updated April 15, 2021
Originally posted May 30, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our risen Christ! San Bernardino County has relaxed the seating capacity guidelines, so there is no longer a need to RSVP, but the details covered below still apply, and face coverings are still required at both services.

As of Sunday, April 18, the 11:45 am worship service will return to being a catechetical service rather than a second communion service.

Attendance Is Not Mandatory

Though the Consistory is calling all to worship this Sunday, if you are elderly, have a medical condition, are immunocompromised, or if you are concerned about guarding your health or the health of others in your household, we encourage you to remain at home and continue to use the online worship guide. Pastor Tom will continue to post pre-recorded sermons there by 10:00 AM on Sundays so that you can worship at home along with us. We hope and pray that the situation will change soon so that we can all feel safe attending worship.

A Call for Love and Charity Toward One Another

We recognize that not everyone in the church agrees on how best to keep ourselves and each other safe. We ask that you refrain from judging brothers and sisters in the church whose opinions differ from your own. Even if you don’t agree with all the safety guidelines below, we ask that you respect them for the safety and care of everyone in the church. This is a challenging time for us all; let’s avoid dissension by focusing on our shared faith and calling in Jesus Christ, and exercise charity with our fellow brothers and sisters.

Seating

San Bernardino County has relaxed the seating limit from 25% to 50% capacity, which is enough seating that we no longer need to require RSVPs for attendance.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are still required at both the 10:00 AM and 11:45 AM services.

Physical Distancing

Based on state guidelines, we are asking everyone who attends on Sunday to:
  • maintain six feet of distance from members of other households at all times
  • wave instead of shaking hands or hugging
The Council knows how hard this is, especially since we haven’t seen each other in so long. It might make some of you uncomfortable or even offend you. But we believe that there is wisdom in “playing it safe,” especially since asymptomatic individuals can easily spread the virus. We plead with you to follow these guidelines out of love for your neighbor.

In addition to these measures, we will provide hand sanitizer for all to use.

Cleanings

The Community Center meeting room, nursery, and bathrooms will be deep-cleaned before the 10:00 AM service, and will be cleaned between the services as well.

Bathrooms and Water Fountains

We will announce procedures around how bathrooms and water fountains should be used during the services.

Changes to the Liturgy

There are a few changes to the liturgy that we have decided to make given the suggestions made in the guidelines.

Communion

We will continue to have people come forward to receive communion, but we ask households to stand at least six feet apart from each other while waiting in line. The elements will be placed on a table so people can take the bread and the wine without touching others’ portions. Everyone will take their bread and wine to their seat and then we will all partake together.

Singing

State guidelines strongly discourage singing. For the time being, we will continue to read Psalms responsively in place of singing. The Consistory believes this to be an acceptable balance of maintaining our liturgy while also trying to keep everyone safe.

Nursery

We believe that it is wise not to staff the nursery. However, parents are free to take their children to the nursery room if they need to during the service.

Offering

In order to avoid contact between people, we will have an offering box in the back where you can drop your offering at any time.

Refreshments

We will not provide snacks for the time being, including coffee. We realize that for people like Pastor Tom who cannot stay awake without coffee, this is extremely distressing! Please feel free to bring your own coffee. We will provide bottled water for everyone. We would ask people after the first service not to linger but to make room for the people arriving for the next service. Everyone will have to enter the Community Center through the main (front) entrance.

Stay Home if You’re Experiencing Symptoms

Because the council is charged with the well-being of the congregation as a whole, we would ask people who manifest any of the symptoms of COVID-19 to please stay at home until the symptoms have vanished for several weeks. The state guidelines are helpful in discussing the issue of symptoms:
People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms.

Let Us Know if You Need Help

If you are experiencing these symptoms or have any other health concerns, please contact the deacons if you need anything! If you cannot make it out of the house, we can go grocery shopping for you and provide for you in any other way we can.

These are unusual times that can cause great stress. We are committed to providing for and helping you. Do not feel shy or hesitant to ask for help. Our church exists, in part, to minister to the needs of the saints. You are God’s own people, precious in His sight.

If You Plan to Attend

It is imperative that you understand that, regardless of precautions and restrictions, you are coming to worship at your own risk.

A Work in Progress

The situation continues to change. We will alert you immediately of any changes in the state guidelines and what the Community Center asks of us.

We are doing our best to follow the guidelines and keep everyone safe while resuming corporate worship, but if you have any concerns or questions please do not hesitate to email Pastor Tom (pastor@highdeserturc.org) or call him (760-951-0809).

May God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Pastor Tom on behalf of the HDURC Council