Covid Safety for Worship

During the coronavirus pandemic which started in the Spring of 2020, we began to take extra precautions to ensure that anyone attending a worship service is safe.  In March of 2020, we suspended our normal 9:30 and 11:00 worship services and moved to a single Live Stream only service at 10:15.  At the time, the pandemic was spreading and no congregation was permitted to attend this service.

But we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

As conditions permit, we will welcome a limited number of people to attend the service in person.  As the case count falls and the pandemic loosens its grip, we will loosen restrictions.  Gradually we will return to a new day when there are no limits or facemasks. 

This page outlines the current state of the pandemic and of our precautions.    Welcome to church!!!

 

Refer to the “This Sunday” block in the right hand sidebar to see if there will be an in-person congregation this week.

 

Note the following update regarding Masks…
 
Greetings Friends;
Grace and Peace to each of you in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
As I have stated previously, as a Pastor I am concerned for the health, safety, and welfare of all people, especially those in the Church. That said, after much prayer and looking at the State and CDC guidelines, noting the large and rapid increase of new COVID cases in Gloucester County, I have decided to have us wear masks again for worship. Even if you have been vaccinated, I am asking that masks be worn. If you have not been vaccinated, mask wearing is essential.
 
My prayer is that this will be temporary, but the health, safety, and welfare of all people, should be paramount for all of us.
 
Please feel free to come and worship in person on Sundays and bring a mask. We have masks available at the church as well.  If you are still not comfortable worshipping in person, you are invited to join and worship via Live Stream.
 
Friends, the same God who has been with us through this pandemic will continue to journey with us. Good days are coming! Hang in there! We will all get through this together.
 
Let us be in prayer for each other in these days.
 
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jim 

 

 

Socially Distanced Safe Worship…

When conditions permit, here’s  how we’re currently conducting “in person worship” in a way that keeps us all safe.  Note that all of these policies are subject to revision as the state of the pandemic changes.

 

If You’re Not Vaccinated…

Anyone who has not been fully vaccinated (or is choosing not to be vaccinated) must enter the church grounds with the understanding that they are taking on the responsibility of possibly being exposed to covid-19 by not wearing a mask (or by gathering inside where all may not be vaccinated).

We no longer require registration or “indemnity wavers.”  We welcome anyone to worship in our Sanctuary on Sunday mornings!  Our vantage is more along the lines of “suggestions” or “guidance” as opposed to “rules” or “requirements.”  The goal for everyone is obvious: Stay safe yourself while taking precautions to avoid any chance of spreading the virus to someone else.  Here are some of the details on how we’re currently operating during our worship services (and as applicable to the building use in general)…

Click/tap the tab to read more about each topic…

We recognize that the decision to be vaccinated is a personal one, and we do not “card” anyone to differentiate between the vaccinated and vaccinated.  However, those who are have not received the vaccine must realize that they have a higher ability to catch and spread the virus. 

Please read the warning box that’s above this “tab” box….

The vaccinated shouldn’t judge the unvaccinated.  The unvaccinated should error on the side of caution when it comes to masks and social distancing.

The current CDC and State of NJ guidelines are that masks be worn indoors by everyone (vaccinated or unvaccinated). 

The decision to wear or not wear a mask is left to each individual (we won’t enforce masks), but we expect everyone to follow CDC guidelines.  We are currently requesting that everyone (vaccinated or not) wear a mask whenever you are inside the building.  

All of the sanctuary’s seating is available (including the balcony).  Families who live together may sit together (as “normal”), but please keep appropriate distance from others who do not live with you.  It’s suggested that you don’t sit directly in front or behind someone, and that you keep ~1/2 pew length (~10 feet) between parties.

The virus is spread via nasal droplets, and so it is still important to keep a distance between others.  Remember that it is possible that you or the person closest to you may not be vaccinated.  Protect them and yourself by staying at least 6 feet apart.

There is some possibility of passing the virus through surface contact.  In order to provide maximum safety, we currently do not hand out any printed materials (such as bulletins).  But, the Hymnals and Bibles have been returned to the pew racks!

This website provides an “online bulletin” which gives the order of worship along with links to scripture and music lyrics.  It is updated each Sunday. Consider bookmarking the website’s  online bulletin into your phone before arriving, and then using it during the service to prayerfully engage with the service.    Signs with QR codes linking to this page are posted in the narthex.  Online Bulletin  

Yes, we can sing now! (or maybe more accurately, we MAY sing now…). 

But… please keep in mind that the nasal droplets which might be carrying the virus travel much further when singing or speaking loudly.  The 6 feet social distancing guideline must be extended when singing. 

If you’re “near” someone who doesn’t live with you (or who might be unvaccinated), please take precautions (wear a mask, or extend your distancing, or don’t sing as loudly as you might want…).

We are not “passing the plate” (since the virus is sometimes transmitted by surface contact and since there is risk of distancing being compromised).  Instead, offering plates are placed on a table in the aisle. 

There will be a time during the service when you can leave your seat to place your offering into the plate (maintain social distancing… maybe even put your mask back on).  Or, you can place your offering in the plate before or after the service. 

Or… we also offer online giving.  Find out more by clicking this button:    Online Giving

“Normally,” we serve communion at the altar rail, and the elements of bread and juice are arranged on the altar tables before the service.

But in this “abnormal” situation, communion will be taken in the pews using prepackaged “communion kits”  This will ensure social distancing and reduce the chance of passing the virus.  Instead of consuming elements prepared by our worship team, each person will be handed an individual “communion kit” when you enter the sanctuary.  This “kit” is contained in a zip lock bag.   It consists of a sealed container of juice (about the size and shape of a restaurant coffee creamer), and a wafer which is sealed by an outer layer of cellophane along the top of the juice container. 

We generally celebrate communion on the first Sunday of each month.

If you feel the need to give someone a big hug, go for it.  However, we still recommend “fist bumps” instead. 

Normally, we are treated to goodies in the Narthex after the service.  Sometimes the coffee and donuts, (or cookies, or other snacks) are fundraisers, sometimes they’re strictly for fellowship. 

But in these “abnormal times”- these times of fellowship are currently on hold.  Someday soon the coffee and donuts will return, but for now we ask that you simply exit the building at the end of the service (and maintain “social distancing” until you reach your car).

 

Online Bulletin

To minimize any chance of spreading the virus, Bulletins and other printed material will not be handed out as you enter. 

Announcements and “sing along lyrics” will be projected on the screen, but an interactive online bulletin will be provided for each service.  The “online bulletin” is on this website.  It includes the Order of Worship and hyperlinks to Scripture Readings and Music Lyrics.  Consider bookmarking this on your phone before coming to church (the URL of the bulletin page never changes;  its content is updated each week.   Once you bookmark it you can use it every week).  You can open the bulletin with this button:   Bulletin  

Or (if you’re not reading this on your phone), scan the below QR code and bookmark the link on your phone:

Online Bulletin

 

Current Status of Virus in New Jersey…

The following frame is automatically updated to show the current details about the virus in New Jersey.  Scroll through the pages to view the latest case counts, vaccination rates, and other data. 

Note:   This frame comes from an outside source, and it may not work on mobile devices…

(Note: Click and Drag title to see next screen)

 

 

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Live Stream

We have been broadcasting all of our services on our Live Stream page since 2017.  When the pandemic closed our sanctuary, the Live Stream capability became a lifeline which allowed us to continue to worship from home.  Even when we permit a limited and “socially distanced” in person congregation, and as we return to a fully “normal” situation, the Live Stream will continue to be valuable worship connection.

 

Even when in-person congregations are permitted, every service will be broadcast over our Live Stream. We will continue to hold only one service, and it will begin at 10:15.

To “join” in worship from home, click this button:  Live Stream     

 

 

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For updates about Worship at PUMC, click this button:      News