Principles for When and How to Conduct In-Person Worship at First Lutheran Church
For the foreseeable future, we will continue to provide worship online. While it is not yet possible to determine a specific date for when it is safe to worship in-person, the congregation leadership and staff has identified a set of positive principles that will guide us in deciding when it will be safe to add in-person worship. First Lutheran will not gather for in person worship in May. Toward the end of May, leadership and staff will evaluate conditions for a possible addition of in-person worship.
The first set of principles describes what it means to be church in a time of pandemic. Above all, our calling as the body of Christ is to demonstrate love and care for the total well-being and health of the neighbor.
The second set of principles are the health guidelines that will inform the decision of when to gather again.
Health guidelines issued by the National CDC and the State of Iowa.
The Governor issues regular updated proclamations that include specific guidelines for gatherings. Though the Governor does not wish to compel worshipping communities to follow these guidelines, the proclamations present useful guidance for organizations and groups that are applicable for congregations and promote the general well-fare of all.
The latest proclamation was issued the end of April. Here are important findings.
Guidance from our Bishop and other religious leaders.
At the end of April, Bishop Michael Burk and other denominational leaders issued a joint letter that congregations should refrain from in-person religious gatherings for the time being. In a follow up letter, Bishop Burk continued to advise against gathering at least through May, if not longer. Letter from Ecumenical Leaders: https://seiasynod.org/synod-news/ecumenical-leaders-respond
Guidance from local health officials, local conditions, and local rates of virus infection
Local health care professionals have an on-the-ground understanding of local conditions in Cedar Rapids.
Conclusion: First Lutheran will continue to provide worship and ministry through on-line means. There is no date yet established for the addition of in-person worship. The congregation leadership and staff continue to monitor national, state, and the local conditions. The congregation will be informed in advance by spotlight, email, and webpage when in-person worship will be added to the on-going online worship services.
When we do return to worship together, worship will look different for the sake of ensuring the well-being of all people.
The staff and church leadership will continue to develop plans for what it will mean to gather together for worship and ministry. When it seems safe to do so, there will be a phased approach in our gathering. The staff and the wider church continue to network and plan for resuming in-person worship.
Phase 1 will be a more restrictive kind of gathering to seek the well-fare of others.