July 14, 2020 Update
In May, our Congregational Council appointed a working group to help think about the details of our reentry into life together at St. Paul’s as we move out of this time of quarantine. The group is regularly meeting every week or two, working though a guide from our Delaware-Maryland Synod and wider ELCA for the different areas of our congregation to consider as we look to reconvene safely. The primary areas of focus include worship, our office, Preschool, use of space for community & support groups, and how to keep connected with one another during these times.
After working through the considerations for resuming gathering for in-person worship, which has now begun, the Group worked with our Office Administrators to develop protocols for reopening the Church Office. This plan was formally considered and approved by our Congregational Council, with more information shared in the beginning of this newsletter.
The Working Group met again last week to move on to the important considerations of how our buildings will be cleaned and sanitized. We are working to consider how our spaces are used and the necessary frequency of their cleaning, what supplies we need based on CDC guidelines, and how we might adjust our usage to allow spaces to “rest” and thus require less strenuous disinfecting. Our intention is that this work will pertain to the practices for our church life, Preschool, and how we can welcome outside use of our spaces by community and support groups in the future.
While the Working Group continues their work, please pray for them, our local community, and those who suffer as a result of this time of distancing and separation. While the Working Group shares the anticipation of gathering together once again for worship, service, and learning in the flesh, there are many details and considerations to make sure it is done carefully and safely, especially for the most vulnerable in our midst.
Life Together Working Group Members: Sue DePasquale, Tony South, Joan Pugh, Kevin Schultz, Courtney Mellecker, Pete Koehler, and Pastor Ed Kay
How To Worship This Sunday – A Preparing for Worship email is sent on Saturday mornings with the specific links and bulletins for each service for download.
- 9:00 a.m. Outdoor Worship: An outdoor service alongside the historic sanctuary and Prayer Garden in the shade of our beautiful campus. This is a reflective Service of the Word with live accompaniment from Elaine Lindsay on the organ from inside the sanctuary. Worshippers must sign-up in advance and agree to follow safety and social distancing provisions. Click here to learn more and reserve your seat for this Sunday.
- 11:00 a.m. Digital Worship: A digital service streamed through Facebook Live and the homepage of our St. Paul’s website, which is available throughout the rest of the week or after 12:30pm by our phone call-in service (443-952-3768). This is a full Service of the Word with musical accompaniment from Steve Dooley on guitar from a variety of musical genres. We celebrate Holy Communion during this service on the first Sunday of the month, with additional information to prepare your heart and home included in the preceding newsletters to this Sunday.
Visiting the Church Office – After Congregational Council approval of a revised set of protocols, we are excited to share that our Church Office is officially reopen! It has been a long 4 months since the pandemic forced the closure of our office, and I am so grateful to our Office Administrators Sharon Greason and Jim Karcher for both tending to the necessary work of our office from home, and working diligently with the Life Together Working Group to be ready to open the office.
We are beginning slow, with the office open in July on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with the intent to expend to 5 days a week in August. There are some adjustments to our office work that are important to know if you plan on making a visit:
- Please make an appointment with Jim or Sharon to help minimize the number of people in the office at one time. Better yet, you can call the office at 410-252-3768 during open business hours, or email Sharon or email Jim anytime!
- When you visit, please wear a facemask for the duration of your visit. The best practice we ask you to observe (for Sunday worship as well), is to have it on from from you leave your car to when you return. But within the building, regardless of proximity to others, facemasks are required.
- The hallway door will be closed, and we ask that you first try to conduct your visit through the glass door. If you have something to leave or pickup, we have added a pocket shelf and a table in the hallway.
If you have keys to the building and come in when the office is closed, we again ask that you wear a facemask even if you are the only person in the building to help limit lingering aerosols from your visit. We also ask that you use hand sanitizer before operating the copy machine, and to refrain from using the office computers or phones, to help keep Jim & Sharon safe when they return to the office.
Please continue to give. Your offerings are needed to help continue the work of the church, even in this in-between time. You can mail your offerings in to the church office – we have a secured mailbox which is being monitored regularly. You can also give online, either as a one-time offering or to setup something reoccurring. You can just go to our website and click on Contribute to St. Paul’s on the right-hand side, and it will take you to a secure giving platform. If it’s all the same, giving by ACH debit is preferred as we incur less processing fees, but giving by a credit card is great too!
Keep connected to one another. Please continue to connect with people this week by phone, text, email, Facebook, or video, and help remember your St. Paul’s community who might be lonely or isolated in these days. A couple of people asked for a directory, which you can download here – please use this only for connecting with one another and not soliciting or giving contact info to people out of our community. If you are willing to be a “phone buddy” for someone in our church who would like another touch point, please email Pastor Ed and let him know. Our partners at ACTC are looking for help or donations if you are willing to assist in caring for the vulnerable in our midst through their work.
You have likely noticed that a lot of our connecting is through Facebook – we know this isn’t perfect, or for everyone, but is a helpful tool in a time like this. If you are not on Facebook and would like to join, please be in touch and we’ll talk you through how to do it. Our leadership is going to be learning how to gather and work via Zoom videoconferencing very soon so we are able to tend to the work of the church. This will be another tool that we will begin using for smaller group meetings, study times, and check-ins with one another.