Text Box: Come and Worship...Go and Serve

EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

OF THE HOLY TRINITY

502 Main Street, Irwin, PA  15642    724-863-7350

COVID-19 Return to In-Person Worship-

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Irwin, PA

Updated 06/10/2020

 

Out of an abundance of care and concern for the health and well-being of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church community, this document has been created to guide us in the implementation of best practices as we return to worship. It is important to note that these changes are only temporary and are being utilized in order to reduce the risk of transmission and protect the most vulnerable members of our community.

 

I. Overview

A. Resources

 1. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC),World Health Organization (WHO), federal and state governments will be considered our primary resources for information and recommendations.

2. Secondary sources of information may include the health department, local hospitals and school districts, nearby colleges and universities, the ELCA Churchwide, and the SWPA Synod.

 B. Hand Washing

1. Everyone is encouraged to use proper hand washing techniques as often as possible. The best defense against the spread of illness is to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (the time it takes to pray the Lord’s Prayer).

2. Hand sanitizer is only for those times when you don’t have access to soap and water.

3. Keep your hands away from your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) and be sure to cough/sneeze into your elbow.

 C. Illness Protocol

1. COVID-19 Higher Risk Category

a) Older Adults: The CDC considers this to be anyone over the age of 60 years old.

b) Chronic Illness: diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory problems (including lung diseases such as asthma), those under treatment for cancer, any condition that weakens the immune system

c) Immunocompromised: anyone with an immune system that is impaired or weakened either through medication or illness; those with compromised immune systems have a reduced ability to fight infections and diseases (like Coronavirus).

2. If you are sick, please stay home. We can’t emphasize this enough. At this time, we want to be cautious and help prevent the potential spread of illness. This applies to church staff as well as volunteers and members.

3. If you are in the CDC’s “higher risk” category, we understand if you feel the need to stay home during this time. Please let us know how we can best support you.

4. If you or someone you know is sick, contact the Pastor or church office. Please don’t visit the sick yourself.

 

II. Yellow Phase Protocols- These will take place when Governor Wolf implements the yellow phase to Westmoreland County

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

Telework Must Continue Where Feasible

Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders

Child Care Open with Worker and Building Safety Orders

Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place

 Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction

Social Restrictions

Stay at Home Restrictions Lifted in Favor of Aggressive Mitigation

Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited

In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable\

Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities (such as gyms, spas), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed

 Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

 

III. Yellow Phase Protocols at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church- These will take place when Governor Wolf implements the yellow phase to Westmoreland County

A. General Protocol

1. Everyone in the church must wear a mask, except for children under age 2 and medical issues.

2. Hand sanitizer should be easily accessible and frequent hand washing encouraged.

3. After you have attended worship or any event, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact the church office as soon as possible to report the diagnosis. Your name will remain confidential. We want to let others in attendance know that they may have been exposed.

4. By signing up for and attending any worship or event at Holy Trinity, you and your family assume the risk of exposure. 

B. Online Worship

1. The Pastor will plan to lead an abbreviated online worship service

2. Online services will be available for viewing on the church Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

3. A print worship resource will be available via email on the church website.

C. In-person Worship

1. Mask must be worn 

2. Peace: Sharing of the peace is removed from worship.

3. Offering: Offering plates will not be passed; they will be placed at the back of the church to drop your envelope in.  Anyone handling the plates or what’s contained in them (i.e. counters and whomever sets the plates out) will need to follow hand washing protocols.

4. Greeting: The Pastor, greeters and ushers will not be shaking hands or hugging after worship. Members are encouraged to refrain from handshaking and other physical contact at this time.

5. Worship Materials: Throw away or recycle bulletins after using. Hymnals will be removed from the sanctuary.

6. All hymnals, pens, papers, and pew pads are removed from the sanctuary

7. Bulletins will be spread out on a table in the narthex and be picked up before worship

D. Physical Distancing

1.Worship will be offered: Sunday at 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00 in the sanctuary; Monday at 1:00 and 6:30 and Wednesday at 6:30.

2. A fourth Sunday service will be at noon in the chapel to be recorded

3. There will be less than 25 people in each worship service

3. Only every third pew will be used in order to keep family units socially distanced.

4.There will be an online sign up for worship times and those not on the internet will be called to sign up for a worship time

5. This worship time will be the same each week in order to:

       a. Keep attendance under 25

       b. Keep track of who is at each worship service

E. Worship Assistants

1. Worship leaders should model social distancing.

2. The usher will keep the doors open before and after worship if the weather permits

3. In inclement weather, the usher will open the door for parishioners.

4. At the end of worship, the usher will dismiss the congregation by pew starting at the rear of the sanctuary

5. There will be no acolyte or crucifer

F. Cleaning

 1. Commonly touched items, such as door knobs, handles, toilets, phones, computers, and the like, will be disinfected daily with wipe downs.

2. The sanctuary will be wiped down after each worship service

3. A cleaning protocol will be posted in rooms that are in use, and rooms are to be disinfected between uses.

G. Funerals and Weddings

 1. Life rituals (weddings, funerals) should be kept to less than 75 in attendance. The time should only be given to those who are on the list to prevent hurt feelings or awkward situations.

H. Holy Communion

 1. The elements will be consecrated during the worship service followed by the post-communion prayer and sending.

2. The communion cups will be pre-filled using gloves and masks.

3. After worship, parishioners will receive communion in the narthex.

       a. Ushers will dismiss parishioners by row to pace people.

       b. The pastor will drop a host in the parishioners hands using tongs

       c. Parishioners will take their pre-filled cup from the tray.

4. Those involved in the set-up and/or clean-up of communion (filling cups, putting out bread, setting the altar) should follow proper handwashing protocols and use gloves. Communion cups will be staggered to avoid parishioners touching other cups. 

I. Singing-

1.Singing is among the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading droplets/aerosols which can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air. A cloth mask is unlikely to be enough to protect you or your neighbor.

2. When possible, one or more people may sing a hymn from the balcony.

 

IV. Green Phase Protocols- These will take place when Governor Wolf implements the Green phase to Westmoreland County

Telework Must Continue Where Feasible

Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders

All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75% Occupancy

Childcare may open complying with guidance

Large Gatherings of more than 250 prohibited

Masks are required when entering a business

Restaurant, bars, personal care services, indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, personal care services and entertainment open at 50% occupancy

 

V. Green Phase Protocols at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church- These will take place when Governor Wolf implements the green phase to Westmoreland County

A. General Protocol

1. Everyone in the church must wear a mask, except for children under age 2 and medical issues.

2. Hand sanitizer should be easily accessible and frequent hand washing encouraged.

3. After you have attended worship or any event, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact the church office as soon as possible to report the diagnosis. Your name will remain confidential. We want to let others in attendance know that they may have been exposed.

4. By signing up for and attending any worship or event at Holy Trinity, you and your family assume the risk of exposure. 

B. Online Worship

 1. The Pastor will plan to lead an abbreviated online worship service

2. Online services will be available for viewing on the church Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

3. A print worship resource will be available via email on the church website.

C. In-person Worship

1. Mask must be worn 

2. Peace: Sharing of the peace is removed from worship.

3. Offering: Offering plates will not be passed; they will be placed at the back of the church to drop your envelope in.  Anyone handling the plates or what’s contained in them (i.e. counters and whomever sets the plates out) will need to follow hand washing protocols.

4. Greeting: The Pastor, greeters and ushers will not be shaking hands or hugging after worship. Members are encouraged to refrain from handshaking and other physical contact at this time.

5. Worship Materials: Throw away or recycle bulletins after using. Hymnals will be removed from the sanctuary.

6. All hymnals, pens, papers, and pew pads are removed from the sanctuary

7. Bulletins will be spread out on a table in the narthex and be picked up before worship

D. Physical Distancing

 1.Worship will be offered: Sunday at 8:00, 11:00, and 6:00 in the sanctuary

2. A fourth Sunday service will be at 9:30 a.m. in the chapel to be recorded

3. Try to keep attendance less than 50 people in each worship service

3. Only every third pew will be used in order to keep family units socially distanced.

4.There will be an online sign up for worship times and those not on the internet will be called to sign up for a worship time

5. The worship time will be the same each week in order to:

       a. Keep attendance under 50

       b. Keep track of who is at each worship service

E. Worship Assistants

1. Worship leaders should model social distancing.

2. The usher will keep the doors open before and after worship if the weather permits

3. In inclement weather, the usher will open the door for parishioners.

4. At the end of worship, the usher will dismiss the congregation by pew starting at the rear of the sanctuary

5. There will be no acolyte or crucifer

F. Cleaning

1. Commonly touched items, such as door knobs, handles, toilets, phones, computers, and the like, will be disinfected daily with wipe downs.

2. The sanctuary will be wiped down after each worship service

3. A cleaning protocol will be posted in rooms that are in use, and rooms are to be disinfected between uses.

G. Funerals and Weddings

 1. Life rituals (weddings, funerals) should be kept to less than 75 in attendance. The time should only be given to those who are on the list to prevent hurt feelings or awkward situations.

H. Holy Communion

 1. The elements will be consecrated during the worship service followed by the post-communion prayer and sending.

2. The communion cups will be pre-filled using gloves and masks.

3. After worship, parishioners will receive communion in the narthex.

       a. Ushers will dismiss parishioners by row to pace people.

       b. The pastor will drop a host in the parishioners hands using tongs

       c. Parishioners will take their pre-filled cup from the tray.

4. Those involved in the set-up and/or clean-up of communion (filling cups, putting out bread, setting the altar) should follow proper handwashing protocols and use gloves. Communion cups will be staggered to avoid parishioners touching other cups. 

I. Singing-

 1.Singing is among the riskier behaviors when it comes to spreading droplets/aerosols which can carry the virus a significant distance and remain suspended in the air. A cloth mask is unlikely to be enough to protect you or your neighbor.

2. When possible, one or more people may sing a hymn from the balcony.

J. Food and Drinks

 1. Water fountains will be sealed and covered to discourage use.

2. Drinks, snacks, and meals will not be served in the church building, except for the childcare

3. Pre-packaged drinks and snacks can be served outside.

K. Meetings, Events and Activities

 1.Those who conduct programs with less than 25 total participants, such as committees and some small groups that meet at the church, can decide to meet in person. All groups should inform the Pastor and office of when they plan to start in-person meetings. Please note that the Executive Committee reserves the right to cancel events at any time.

2. Masks must be worn.

3. Tables, chairs, and other areas that have been touched must be sanitized at the end of the meeting. Sanitation protocol will be posted in the rooms.

4. Only one meeting, event or activity per room per day.

5. Please consider utilizing programs like Zoom to still have meetings if you choose not to meet in person.

6. Please take attendance of those at the meeting and leave the list in the office. This enables those in attendance to be notified if someone present later tests positive for COVID-19.

L. Outside Groups

 1. Groups with less than 25 total participants can meet at the church

2. All church protocol must be followed including but not limited to:

       a. Wearing masks at all times.

       b. No food or drinks served inside of the church building.

       c. Maintaining social distancing.

       d. sanitizing the room before leaving.