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  • Writer's pictureGreg Dover

Ready to return to church!

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

We are all so excited to return to in-person worship on Sundays, beginning October 4th! We will gather at our usual worship time (10:30 am), and will livestream the service on the church's Facebook page for those who are not able to attend. These services will be a little shorter than usual (about 45 minutes) because of some of the precautions we are taking that effect worship.

We also know these services will feel a little different, so we want you to be comfortable. If you've been looking for a chance to put on a suit and tie or a pair of heels (or both?), by all means - get spiffed up for worship. If you've really enjoyed watching worship in jeans and a sweatshirt, wear them to church. We are just glad to be able to meet together.

So that we can meet together for worship, we are taking the following precautions:

- Just worship. We will only meet for worship. There will not be any in-person Sunday school or Bible study beforehand, and no childcare during the service. Children who attend will need to remain with their parents in the sanctuary (see below).

- When in doubt, stay home. It's strange to encourage people NOT to come to church. But if you think you might be sick or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home. You can still watch on Facebook, and you won't have to feel the guilt of getting someone else sick.

- Open doors. Everyone will enter and exit through the sanctuary building, the doors of which will be propped open before and after the service. Hopefully this will limit the number of touches on door handles.

- Mask up! Masks will be required at all times while inside the building. If you don't have one or forget yours, we will have masks (and hand sanitizer) available at the entrances.

- Grab a bulletin (a yellow one if you're being cautious). There won't be any hymnals or Bibles, offering envelopes or pencils in the pews, but everything you need for the service will be printed in the bulletin. We will also have yellow bulletins available for anyone who is being extra careful and may want a little more space than even six feet. These will be a visual signal to others that this person isn't being anti-social, just extra safe.

- Bring something for the kids. We can't provide children's worship bags (although we will have children's bulletins and some individually packaged crayons), so parents may want to bring some Play-Doh or Legos or a coloring book from home for their little ones.

- Leave your offering at the door (but not at home!). We will have offering baskets by the doors of the sanctuary so you are still able to give and support the work of the church without having to pass the plate.

- We've got a big sanctuary. Let's use it all. We have every other pew roped off so worshipers can sit at least 6 feet apart. If you are in the same household, feel free to sit together on a row. Otherwise, spread out so we have plenty of space between us. We will also have deacons and ushers taking attendance to help with any needed contact tracing.

- Hold it if you can. The only restrooms that will be open are those directly behind the sanctuary. We are asking you to use the restrooms only if absolutely necessary. We have deacons who will clean each restroom between each use.

- The masked singer. We can't stop you from singing along with the hymns. (Heck: it's hard enough to get you to sing!) But we won't be standing and singing together, even though we have our masks on. That also means we won't have a choir for a while, but we will continue to hear from some of our talented soloists!

- Kids, stay in your seats. Not only is this good etiquette for fellow worshipers, it's also how we'll do the children's message. Kids can stay right where they are in the pew, and our children's message leader will offer the message from the front of the sanctuary.

I think I may have COVID and I came to church. What now?

First, please let us know if you attended worship within two weeks of testing positive for COVID-19. We will maintain confidentiality and will not divulge any identifying information about the individual who tested positive.

Second, please quarantine for two weeks so as not to further the spread of the virus and to keep others safe.

Knowing who has tested positive for COVID-19 and when they attended worship can help us protect others and limit the spread. Therefore, if we know of a possible exposure at Augusta Heights, we will post the date of the potential exposure and the area of the sanctuary on the church's COVID-19 page. Members can check the page to see if there has been any possible exposure, and then anyone attending that day and sitting nearby can monitor symptoms and/or get themselves tested.

We know these services will look and feel different from those before the pandemic. But we are excited for the possibility to be together in whatever way we (safely) can! We hope to see you soon!

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