As most of you know, Trinity resumed public gathering for worship on Sunday, May 10. The following is mostly a review of the initial guidelines which were put out prior to “reopening” with the addition that we will soon resume Holy Communion as part of our services.
To comply with safety guidelines, we continue to ask that everyone closely observe the minimum 6-foot social distancing guidelines. All gatherers are asked to wear masks. We continue to limit the number of people per service to around 50. In order to accommodate everyone, we have been holding 2 Sunday services – the first service at 9:15 a.m., the second at 10:30. We will continue to have 2 services for now. For the time being, we will continue not to hold in-person Sunday School/Bible class, choir, small groups, etc.
In order that we not exceed the number of people in either service who can be safely accommodated with adequate social distancing, we ask that you sign up for the service you intend to attend. A weekly email will continue to be sent out with a link to sign up. If you prefer, you may call the church office to sign up. If we reach maximum capacity for a given service, we will be asking anyone wishing to sign up for that service to attend the other.
A few important further notes. First, the guidelines require worshipers wear masks. Please wear a mask to service! If you do not have one, we will have a few extra available. This is not optional at this time. … Second, we will continue to livestream the service during the 10:30 time for those who are unable to attend worship or are not comfortable attending yet. This obviously does not replace being gathered with the body of Christ in Church, but it does allow anyone to participate in worship who is not able to come for health or other reasons. As a reminder, you can go to our Facebook page – TrinityMemphis – to access the service. Also, we will continue to post the worship bulletin and Trinity Today on our website if you would like to use them to follow along with the service. … Third, and again this is the biggest change from the initial guidelines when we resumed services: as of May 31, we will resume having Holy Communion. See the procedure we will be following for Communion below. … Fourth, if you have any symptoms of illness (coughing, trouble breathing, fever, etc.), out of respect for the health of others, we respectfully request that you not attend worship until you are well. … Fifth, if you are a person who is at higher risk to contract Covid-19, such as being immunocompromised, having other respiratory or heart conditions, etc., we encourage you to consider staying home and watching the livestream for your own health and well-being. … Sixth, we request that you maintain the minimum 6-foot distance with others at all times, avoiding shaking hands, hugs, etc. … Seventh, to ensure proper sanitization, the elders will be wiping down pews that are used between services, as well as doorknobs at entry points and the like. … Eighth, we ask that you take your bulletin home with you after the service and dispose of it yourself or place it in the recycle basket on the floor just outside the sanctuary in the narthex. We will not be reusing bulletins for different services. Our goal is to also avoid elders or ushers having to handle them after you. … Ninth, for the time being the nursery will remain closed during services. If you need to take a young child out for a few moments, we suggest the fellowship hall. We will also not be making the “busy bags” for young children available for now until we can get a safe and quick disinfecting plan in place for between services. … Tenth, we continue to ask that during hymns and any other sung portions of the service if you choose to sing, you wear your mask and sing “softly” so as not to inadvertently project droplets of saliva. This is because, though not unanimously agreed upon, it has been suggested by some there could be the slight possibility of a small percentage of droplet escape despite the mask.
Here are a few other requests / considerations.
Before Worship Services:
1. Handwashing – We request that everyone be diligent in handwashing, washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. This is one of the greatest defenses against the spread of this virus or any other illness. Please wash before and after the service. This obviously includes those who are serving at a given service. Please wash before, during (as necessary), and after the service, and regularly use hand sanitizer when washing is not an option.
2. Again, if you are sick or are someone who is at higher risk if you contract the virus (immunocompromised, respiratory or heart issues, other underlying health issues, etc.), please do not feel guilty about staying home for now. For your own well-being and that of others, we encourage it.
3. Greeters – We have requested that our greeters not shake hands or have other physical contact with worshipers as they enter or exit the building.
4. Ushers – Ushers will continue to pass out worship bulletins to people as they enter worship. They will be regularly using hand sanitizer as they do.
During Worship Services:
1. “Social Distancing” – See above.
2. As attendance increases, it may be necessary that an elder usher you to a seat if space is not being maximized or used safely. Please do not be surprised if this happens. We will only be using every other pew. Also, we can safely seat 3 individuals per pew when properly spaced out. This does not include families who have already been around one another and do not necessarily need to maintain the 6-foot social distance.
3. Use of Hymnals and Bibles – Handling of hymnals will not be necessary. All hymns will be printed in the worship bulletin for the time being.
4. Offering – Rather than passing the offering plates through the pews during the service, the offering plates will be sitting at the front of the sanctuary, one on the lectern side and one on the pulpit side. You may place your offering in one of the plates prior to the service or after the service. We do also offer an online giving option. This can be accessed through the church’s website at trinitymemphis.org. This is very secure. You may schedule automatic withdrawal or make a one-time offering. You may make donations through a banking account or using a credit or debit card. We ask that people consider giving online, especially during this time when we hadn’t been meeting for several weeks and giving may continue to be lower as attendance is likely decreased.
5. Sharing of the Peace – Sharing of the peace is on hold indefinitely.
6. Holy Communion – As noted, we will resume Communion on May 31. We will have the Sacrament at both services. We have made several procedural changes for the foreseeable future:
a. The procedure for Communion will be “Continuous.” Rather than coming to the rail where distance and no contact are impossible to maintain, communicants will line up and receive the Sacrament from the front of the chancel area one by one. We ask that as you wait in line, please observe the appropriate recommended distance from the person in front of you.
b. For now, we will only offer individual cups. If you regularly receive the Lord’s blood from the common cup, we encourage you to receive from an individual cup and not forego it. We are aware that there are some churches which only offer the bread/body of our Lord at this time, with the reasoning that if you receive the body, the blood must logically be present in it. This is not what our Lord has given and commanded us, however. He clearly commands and invites that we receive both His body and blood with the words, “Take, eat….Take, drink.”
c. For your safety, the pastor and assisting elder will wear mask and gloves. They will sanitize their hands immediately prior to gloving for distribution.
d. The pastor will place the bread/body of our Lord in your hands. During this time, he will not place the Sacrament on people’s tongues.
e. If you normally need assistance by an usher, we invite you to commune at your seat. Please let one of the ushers know so the pastor can be made aware. If you choose to come up and need an usher’s assistance in any way, please do not take the hand of the usher assisting you. He or she will assist you by taking you by the elbow to help you.
f. There will not be an acolyte holding the tray for used cups. In the normal place of the trays will be baskets of some sort with bags in them. We ask that you discard your cup into one of the baskets.
7. Tissues are supplied in the sanctuary should you need them. Hand sanitizer is available for your use in at least one of the windowsills on each side of the sanctuary and also in the transept area.
1. The pastor will be in his normal place to greet worshipers. If you normally stand in the “receiving line” to greet and be greeted by the pastor, please do not feel obligated during this time. Until the risk is lower, the pastor will greet you verbally but not shake hands or have other contact. He will be wearing a mask for greeting.
2. Fellowship – We will not provide food for fellowship during this time and ask that before and after services we have limited numbers of people in the fellowship hall at a time to maintain safe distancing.
3. If you attend the 9:15 service, we ask that you exit the building fairly quickly after the service. Worshipers for the 10:30 service will soon be coming in, and we want to try to adhere to capacity guidelines as best as we are able.
4. Again, please take your bulletin home with you or properly dispose of it. Please do not set it with unused bulletins for someone else to possibly use, and don’t leave it in the pew or elsewhere in the sanctuary or building that would cause someone else to have to handle it.
We sincerely appreciate your help in observing these precautions in order to keep you safe and well, as well as your brothers and sisters in Christ around you!