Resumption of In-Person Services at Immanuel
The Service: We are working with our internet provider to be able to offer live streaming the services on Sunday mornings at 10:00 am, for those members who are unable to attend. Should live streaming not be a viable option for our congregation, services will be recorded and placed on YouTube later the same day. As always, the link and Order of Service will be made available at our website, immanuelwinnipeg.ca
Here is what you can expect when you come to service:
• Each service will be about 45 minutes in length.
• Each service will be a service of Holy Communion (individual cups & wafer).
• Each service will be spoken (i.e. no singing) at this time
• Every area of the church building that will be used for our service will be cleaned immediately after to accommodate Heart of Worship International Church (HOWIC), to whom we rent our building, for their afternoon service. Likewise, every area of the church building that will be used for HOWIC's service will be cleaned immediately after their service.
There are other considerations that are important for you to be aware of:
• Please do not attend service if you are ill, or are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 or other health matters.
• Please arrive early to help facilitate the live streaming or recording process.
• All worshippers, greeters and ushers will wear a face mask except for when receiving Holy Communion. You are asked to bring your own mask from home and we will provide masks for those who forget.
• Worshippers will enter from the front doors where they will be greeted and asked to review screening questions.
• Attendance, participation in Holy Communion, and answers to the screening questions will be recorded.
• You will be asked to use hand sanitizer when entering the building.
• Our seating plan must ensure 2 metres distance between households. We ask members to understand they may not be seated in their accustomed pew and that seating will only be allowed in every third pew.
• Pew cushions will not be provided as they are difficult to sanitize. You may bring a cushion from home, which we ask you to take home after the service.
• You will be given a single-use printed order of service.
• Communion will be served in family groupings and you will be ushered forward in a way that ensures physical distancing.
• Offerings are to be placed in an offering plate located at the entrance of the sanctuary.
• At the end of the service, worshippers will be ushered out beginning at the back of the church.
• Worshippers will exit through the back door leading to the parking lot.
• Visiting before or after the service in the church building is not permissible at this time. Visiting is allowed in the parking lot with social distancing.
• Only the washrooms on the main floor of the church may be used.
• The basement area (including washrooms) and church offices will be closed.
We realize that this approach may not make everyone happy, but its felt that it carefully balances our Lord’s command to worship and His command to not bring harm against our neighbour.
1. Is this the “new normal” for Immanuel Lutheran?
Not at all!! This is but the first step in the reopening and restoration of our in person services. Our protocols will evolve going forward, based on direction from Manitoba's Public Chief Public Health Officer and current COVID-19 numbers. For now, for the health of those attending services at Immanuel, we wear masks and refrain from singing, but this is not permanent.
2. What if I am not comfortable attending service right now?
We understand that everyone has had different responses to this public health crisis, and everyone has a different comfort level about reopening. Please be assured that if you are not feeling ready to venture out for worship just yet, we understand. It is not a sign of weak faith if you stay home until you are more comfortable. Services will continue to be made available on YouTube via our website at immanuelwinnipeg.ca.
3. Why not just stick with recorded services on YouTube and wait until the pandemic is over before starting service?
We are indeed blessed to live in a time where the internet has made it much easier to remain connected as a congregation. When churches were last closed in our community (100 years ago in the Influenza pandemic) things were much more difficult. However, as convenient as it is to be able to “attend” worship at your leisure, Christianity is a community faith. We are the Body of Christ and just as a dismembered body cannot live, so also the Body of Christ suffers if it does not come together. This pandemic (like all other man-made and natural crises) is a reminder that we live in a world that is passing away and in this environment we need especially heed the encouragement of the writer to the Hebrews: “Do not give up the habit of meeting together … but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching”
4. What happens if we learn that someone who attended service has become COVID-19 positive?
First, we will pray for them and their family! Then we will rely on Public Health to determine what type of contact tracing/follow up is advised at the time. The safety protocols that we have put in place are consistent with Public Health recommendations to minimize any exposure risk to COVID-19 as we gather in this way. For this reason, we ask all worshippers to take these precautions seriously.
5. What if I strongly prefer to receive communion from the common cup?
Speak directly to Pastor Just.
We realize it does seem like a lot of information and a lot of regulations. However, these are really the same guidelines we are learning to follow in every area of life right now. With the blessing to be allowed to reopen our doors comes the responsibility of thinking through all the details and demonstrating to you that we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while gathering.
Should you have questions about any of the information in this letter you may contact Pastor Just. You may also feel free to contact our President Karl Daher or Elder Ray Kroll.