Frequently Asked Questions for Returning to Worship after Covid-19 Quarantine
Service Times, Seating and Worship Style
Q: When will we start the outdoor worship?
A: July 19 will be our first outdoor service at 9 AM, and it will be the Contemporary format. At 10:30, the Festival service will be shown on Facebook and YouTube. The following week, the services will be switched, 9 AM will be the Festival service with Marie providing the music, then at 10:30, the Contemporary service will be shown on Facebook and YouTube.
Q: What time will my favorite service be live outside on Sunday?
A: All live services outside will be at 9 AM. The first week will be the Contemporary service, the next week will be the Festival service, alternating each week. At 10:30, whatever service was not at 9 will be broadcast on Facebook and YouTube. In the future, we will add Wednesday and Saturday evenings.
Q: What is a “Festival” service?
A: That is our name for the service that was at 10:30 AM up until the quarantine stopped in-person worship. The music is led by the Organ and has a more formal feel.
Q: Will I need a reservation?
A: No, but please do. First, so that we can stay within the Baltimore City restriction of 50% capacity. Second, so that we can arrange chairs for your household to sit together, we need to know how many will come in a group. We will take reservations on the web page and or by calling Donna Fairley at 410-657-3908.
Q: May I bring my own chair?
A: You may bring your own chair, but it is discouraged to avoid confusion for the setup team. The ushers will have a layout defined that meets the distancing requirements and accommodates all the households that made the reservation. If doing so is required to have you participate, then by all means, bring one! Please be sure to make your reservation so the ushers will allow room with your household group. Be informed, however, the chairs provided will have been sanitized that morning. The ushers will help you to your location.
Q: Will I be able to get a seat in the shade?
A: There is limited seating under the tents and under the trees. If you require shade for health reasons, please indicate that when you make your reservations. The ushers will do their best to accommodate you, but shade is limited. Those with health concerns will be considered first, based on notes when making your reservation.
Q: You mean I cannot sit wherever I want?
A: In order to seat as many people as possible while maintaining six feet physical distancing, the ushers will manage the placement of chairs. The plan is to minimize having people walking past other people that are already seated. This would violate the physical distancing requirement and possibly create a less “safe” environment. The ushers will do their best to help you, but nothing can be guaranteed.
Q: Must I wear a mask the whole time?
A: Yes, everyone over the age of 3 must wear a mask at all times. Masks have been identified as a key in minimizing the spread of the virus. Maryland is not seeing as much of a resurgence in infections as are other states, and we certainly don’t want to contribute to one. We are following CDC, government and synod guidelines.
Q: I have a doctor’s note saying I don’t have to wear a mask. Can I come?
A: Our accommodation for such a health concern is that we will live stream the service and you may worship from home.
Q: Will there be Sunday School or Kid Zone?
A: No children’s programs, activity bags or child care will be available. The building will be closed except for the rest rooms. This will be changed when it is deemed safe.
Q: May I bring a blanket for my children to sit and play on? A: Yes, Please be sure to note this on your reservation. The ushers will help you with placement.
Q: Will there be bulletins?
A: The church will not provide printed bulletins. They are online and may be printed at home to bring with you. You may also download to your portable device, and bring that device with you so that you can follow along with the service. The eHerald published on Wednesday includes links to the Sunday bulletins. We are not confessing the creed or responding to prayers or speaking aloud. The worship leaders will speak the service, from a physical distance of 20+ feet.
Q: How will I know what songs to sing, so I can find them in my hymn book?
A: The congregation is asked not to sing, or speak responses out loud. We are arranging cantors and/or soloists who will be able to provide all the words in song and for all singing. Note, if you are viewing from home, Please sing out!
Q: I enjoy the livestreaming and premiering videos. Will they continue?
A: Yes, each week, we will livestream the service outdoors at 9 AM and at 10:30, show the other service via Facebook and YouTube. Example: on August 9th at 9 AM, we have the Festival service, and Marie provides the music, and a congregation will be present. That will be played live over the internet. The words for the hymns will be posted in the comments. At 10:30, you will be able to find the Contemporary service with Uriah, Una and Buddy shown on Facebook and YouTube. The words will be on the screen.
Q: How will we know what to do if it rains or is excessively hot in the opinion of the pastors.
A: We will update the answering machine by 8 AM, post the “Inclimate weather” screen on the web page, and put comments on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EpiphanyLC. We will also call or email those who gave us that contact information on their reservation. The service at 9 AM will then be done from in the Sanctuary, but only with the service leadership present. It will be live on Facebook for the congregation to view at home, as having more than the worship leadership in the sanctuary significantly increases the risk of transmission.
Q: Why will we do only one service outdoors each week?
A: We are beginning with one service. We plan to add Wednesday and Saturday as time progresses.
Q: Why are we not worshiping in the sanctuary or in Hightman Hall?
A: Experts say that the risk of transmission is much greater when indoors. Also, when spacing at six feet, the sanctuary only holds 36 people plus those in the chancel. Hightman Hall can hold about the same as the courtyard, but is indoors, so represents additional risk.
Q: How often will we celebrate Holy Communion?
A: We will celebrate Holy Communion on the last Sunday of each month. At the in-person 9 AM service, the single serving cups will be distributed as you leave, so that you may consume in your car or when you get home. For those watching the livestream from home, we will also deliver to your home if you sign up. The 10:30 service will be streamed from the sanctuary, and we will deliver home communion to all within our delivery area who request.
Q: How do I sign up for home delivery of the Holy Communion?
A: You may sign up on the web page at https://god-is-love.org/home-communion/ or by calling the church office (410-485-7654 M-Th 9:30-3:00, F 9:30 – 11:30). Be sure to specify the following details:
1. You name or family name
2. Number of servings
3. Which service you will view that day, 9 AM or 10:30 AM
4. How many of the servings must be gluten free?
5. Any special delivery instructions? (side or back door, put inside the storm door, etc)
Allow two hours after the conclusion of the service to receive your delivery. The driver will try to call you some minutes before they reach your home. Please answer the phone during that time, even if you don’t recognize the phone number!
Q: Will we be greeted and greet each other?
A: An usher will be at the gate to welcome you, show you the hand sanitizing station, direct you toward your seat and a reminder to keep your mask on. We will have a limited supply of masks to provide to those who forgot to bring one. We ask that your greetings to your friends and neighbors be a nod or a wave from at least 6 feet distance. During the worship, we will not be sharing the peace with one another.
Q: How often will the chairs be sanitized?
A: The chairs will be sanitized before and after each service. Our parish nurses are providing the instructions to the setup/cleanup teams as to what product to use and how to use it, so that we meet the CDC standards.
Q: Will hand sanitizer be available?
A: A touchless dispenser will be at the entry gate and the usher will encourage you to use it. We have also ordered another for the CloisterHallway outside the rest rooms when it arrives.
Q: How will we be assured of all the health precautions and procedures that are put in place to keep us safe?
A: A document similar to this one will be posted and mailed to those that do not have internet. Your pastors, staff and council are committed to providing a worship experience for everyone that is safe and in accordance with CDC guidelines. We will be attentive to details and follow through to maximize your safety.
Q: Why did we not come back to in person worship as soon as it was allowed?
A: Following the guidance of Bishop William (Bill) Gohl, “Just because we can does not mean we should”. The guidance from the synod was that we carefully plan to include all concerns. We have a task force of subject-matter-experts and volunteers that has been meeting weekly to plan a safe and meaningful experience so that we can once again worship together. There have been too many stories of congregations that met for worship, and the virus was spread. The plan is to avoid that from happening, especially since many members and visitors of our congregation have additional risk factors.
Personal Needs Accommodations
Q: Will the rest rooms be available?
A: The interior Restrooms will be available, but only one household may use the facility at any particular time. Be sure to wash you hands for the 20 second suggested limit. Therefore we suggest that individuals not loiter, after using the facilities, as others may be waiting to use them. Upon departing the Rest Rooms, we suggest you visit and use the hand sanitizer station (mentioned above).
Q: Will water be available?
A: We strongly suggest you bring water with you. The CDC recommendations do not provide for water fountains or distribution of water.