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This decision was made with my input as well as that of the Salem Council and the Worship Committee, and together we felt it was reasonable at this time. The truth is that the risks presented by gathering in-person for worship have only continued to increase locally since the COVID19 pandemic began. Despite this, worship at Salem has continued each and every Sunday online and by phone and the vast majority of Salem members have graciously adapted to the process.

During the month of August we have been experimenting with ways to maintain our online worship services while at the same time gradually re-introducing people into the sanctuary over what will certainly be months if not a year or more. Much of this process involved seeking information and experimenting. After a few weeks of trial, error, and test runs we are prepared to offer a truly 'hybrid' model of worship that will help us continue to worship together through this unprecedented time and beyond.

Starting on Sunday, September 13, the 10AM online worship service will be open to attend in-person in the sanctuary at Salem. If you are content to stay home and attend the service via Zoom or over the phone, PLEASE continue to do so. The success of this will be measured NOT by the number of people in the pews but by the number of people who remain HEALTHY in our congregation and community during the course of this pandemic.

Here's what to expect:

  • We will continue to share this as an online partnership with Pr. Matt Danielson and the Baxter and Saron Lutheran Churches as necessary through the pandemic.
  • STAY HOME if you know you have been exposed to COVID19 in the prior 14 days or if you have symptoms. You can watch the same service on Zoom or listen on the phone and you won't miss out.
  • Names and contact information of those attending will be collected at the time in the event that exposure to COVID19 may have affected others present at the service.
  • MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS, and are available for those who need one.
  • Maintaining a six foot distance between households will be required for the comfort and safety of all present. Seating locations will be marked to provide generous spacing between people.
  • The order of service will appear on the TV in the front, in sync with everyone participating in the service on Zoom. All audio will be sent into Zoom as well as the sanctuary simultaneously,
  • While leading the service I will be facing the congregation while also being seen and heard in Zoom. When Pr. Matt Danielson leads the service with me or preaches, he will be in the sanctuary or on Zoom as is convenient and comfortable for him.
  • The camera we are using is on a tripod in the aisle, and anyone sitting in the pews will NOT be on camera. On the other hand, all sanctuary sound such as loud visiting, coughing, or babies crying can potentially be heard over the sanctuary mics in Zoom. This is no different than the recording of worship services we have done for years.
  • Diane will be playing the organ and/or piano live, and I will sing along with the liturgy and hymns. We may eventually have additional singers at the mic if circumstances allow. Diane has also pre-recorded accompaniment which may be used from time to time if necessary.
  • Singing and spoken responses by the congregation will be extremely limited. This is to reduce the transmission of aerosols from the mouth by which COVID19 potentially spreads in an enclosed space.
  • Readers will not be required to be in the sanctuary and may read from home on Zoom if they wish.
  • Hymnals, cushions, offering plates and any such shared items have either been removed from the pews or will otherwise not be used during the pandemic. You may want to bring your own cushion.
  • Offering will be collected in a plate or basket on a stand. There will be no hand shaking during the Sharing of the Peace.
  • Holy Communion in the sanctuary will take place in the pews using individual juice/wafer packets.
  • No coffee fellowship time will take place in the social hall after worship. Those present may participate in online fellowship via the TV in the sanctuary if they desire.
  • Touched surfaces will be disinfected as much as possible following each worship service.
  • If over time it seems necessary to manage attendance numbers in the sanctuary, a limited reservation system may need to be introduced. That is a hassle I would prefer to avoid for now.
  • Additional restrictions or guidelines may be posted or announced.

Essentially, for those attending on Zoom or watching the recording on Channel 180, nothing will change. The nice part about offering this service as a hybrid model is that those present online anywhere can worship with those present in the sanctuary real time. It also provides the least amount of interruption to our worship schedule should everyone need to stay home again as the result of a local COVID19 outbreak.

As you consider whether attending worship in the sanctuary at this time is a good idea for you, I strongly urge you to err on the side of caution. Even though we will be masked and distanced, we will still be breathing the same recycled air for an hour. If you do not feel comfortable or safe attending worship in the sanctuary under these circumstances it is completely understandable. My own family will be home attending worship on Zoom for as long as necessary to be safe.