Guidelines for Reducing Risks of an Infectious Diseases While Attending Worship at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

We are currently experiencing two highly contagious diseases which are putting the population at risk. One is the Influenza Virus. The other is COVID-19 (Corona Virus). Both diseases are easily transmitted through human to human contact and proximity. We are taking the following actions to minimize your risk of exposure when attending worship at St. Mark’s.

Step #1: We encourage you to stay home if you do not feel well.

If you are ill, exhibiting symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc.), or think you might have been exposed to an infectious disease, we strongly encourage you to stay home. This minimizes the risk for you and for others. God will understand. You can view the sermon on the Friends of St. Mark’s Facebook site. Pastor Kelly will gladly email you a copy of his sermon upon request. Unfortunately, we are not able to record the entire service due to licensing issues.

Step #2: Develop lower risk ways to greet each other.

we are trying to minimize potential to transmit or receive an infectious disease by discouraging contact with others. We strongly encourage you to avoid the following types of greetings: hugging, shaking hands, fist bumps, elbow bumps, etc. Yes, we want to greet and welcome each other. However, at this time, it is advised that we greet each other ways that do not put others at risk.

Step #3: Eliminate Sharing of the Peace

Because of the risks of contact stated, we will be eliminating the Sharing of the Peace during worship. Pastor will continue to say “The Peace of the Lord be with you,” and invite you to respond: “And also with you.” However, we will not turn to greet each other. It is not an essential action in Lutheran worship.

Step #4: Eliminate passing the offering plate

It has been our practice of passing the offering plates from one to another down each pew. This is another potential contamination risk. Therefore, we will no longer have a formal collection of offering. An offering plate will be located in the center aisle where you can place your offering as you come forward for communion. There will be no formal presentation of the gifts at the altar. You can also place your gifts in the box in the narthex.

Step #5: Reduce potential risks during communion

We will no longer offer communion by intinction. We will, however, continue to offer communion around the communion rail. The Presiding Minister, Assisting Minister/Communion Assistant, and acolytes will thoroughly clean their hands prior to preparing and sharing the

communion elements. (Consideration is also being given to their wearing of gloves as another layer of protection.)

As you gather around the communion rail, you can avoid potential risk of contamination by refraining from touching the communion rail. You are encouraged to remain standing. If you desire time to kneel in prayer, you can do so when you return to your place in the pew.

The Presiding Minister will offer you the wafer as usual. The Communion Assistant and Acolytes will offer the wine or grape juice as usual. We will, however, space the cups in the trays to reduce coming in contact with more than one cup. When emptied, you can place your cup in the empty tray. We will also be using disposable biodegradable cups to risk contamination.

If, for any reason, you feel you cannot navigate the steps in the chancel area, you are welcome to stand in front of the first pew and communion will be brought to you there.

Those who serve on the altar guild will take additional steps to minimize risk while setting up before and cleaning up after worship/communion.

Step #6: Relocate the Baptismal font

Some are in the habit of dipping their fingers in the baptismal font water and tracing the sign of the cross on their forehead as an act of reverence. This presents another potential risk of transmitting a virus. Therefore, the baptismal font will be relocated to the chancel platform, to the right of the altar. We will only place water in the font/bowl when there is a baptism. During the preparation for baptisms, precautions will also be taken to minimize risk the those being baptized.

Step #7: Transition away from printed materials for worship

Another potential source for contamination is printed materials handed out for worship. We will attempt to eliminate such materials. The service is sent out by email prior to Sunday by email. You can print it out at home and bring it with you. Or you can download it to your electronic device (smart phone, tablet, etc.) and use it during the service. If you are currently not on the bulletin email list, please contact the church office. We will continue to project as much of the worship service as possible on the screen.

Step #8: Assess the way we use microphones for announcements

Handing off microphones during announcements at the end of worship presents another risk. We are exploring ways that you can make your announcement without having to hold onto the microphone.

Step #9: Take other measures to reduce the risk of transmitting a virus.

We cannot guarantee that we will eliminate all potential methods of transmission. The same is true wherever we go, whether to work or school, to the grocery store or the gas station, etc.

We will, however, continue to assess ways that the transmission of a virus might occur during activities at St. Mark’s and seek to find ways to minimize those risks. However, you can be of great assistance by making suggestions to us of how to reduce such risk.

We also recommend your following the advice of medical authorities:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands
  • Use hand sanitizers and wipes containing at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands and
  • surface areas
  • Stay home if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of the Influenza virus and the
  • Corona Virus and contact your doctor.
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