Appreciating our time together, no matter how it may be…
At this time of Thanksgiving, we are very appreciative of the Shepherd community. Being able to come together, however it may be, and share our faith as something that together we can all be grateful for. As the times change, so does our church, as we come together in how we serve the greater community.
Here are the recent changes that Shepherd has adopted in these changing times.
Our worship: Starting November 1, Indoor Worship and Online Worship! As listed in last month’s update, we are moving to this new format. If anyone is uncomfortable with the guidelines, or chooses not to follow them, we ask you to please consider protecting the congregation by worshiping at home; as we will continue to live stream our services. Also, if you are in a high-risk category (and for your own safety) please join us via our live streaming of the service. Our goal as a congregation is to protect each other from contracting COVID-19. We need to be willing to take precautions to protect each other, the community and ourselves. These guidelines can be found on our website under sohsv.org/RSVP. Worshiping on-site is a decision you and your family will need to prayerfully make. Some of you will decide to return to the sanctuary for worship, and some of you will choose to remain at home for worship. Either way you choose, God is still speaking among us. Be well and know that you are greatly loved!
Our building: We have made some changes to our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC). We have added an ionizer onto our sanctuary system that will continuously be helping to provide cleaner air for all of those using that space. We have also installed many touchless hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and floor decals reminding all to stay at safely socially distant. We have some groups that have moved back into the building and please know that we are doing whatever we can to ensure that we are following the best protocols of this pandemic.
Our (other) gatherings: Wednesday 1:00 Bible Study has now moved to the narthex. Please enter in Door A and as a friendly reminder, masks are required. 6:30 pm bible study is still available on Zoom each week. Book Studies are also on Zoom and information is on our website under Adult Faith Formation. Coffee & Donuts is also continuing and will be offered online on Zoom. See the eNews for information on this.
As always, we appreciate all of your flexibility in the continuous changes and supporting each other in being the church.
In God’s Peace, Your Shepherd Staff
Pr. Renee, Jilene, Pr. Brice, Joe, Sr. Tashina, Miranda, and Michelle
We are a hearty bunch here in Minne-snowta!! Even as our outdoor worship gets chillier, we are up for braving it. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Worshiping outside has been a really fun and holy
experiment that we have truly enjoyed (and might even do next summer with or without COVID concerns). However, as the weather turns toward what we have come to expect in Minnesota we all know that our comfortable “outside time” will be faced with the challenges that late fall and winter bring, namely…snow and cold.
After much conversation with many people in differing (professional) places about how and when to transition back into the sanctuary for in-person worship we are planning on worshipping back in the sanctuary on Nov 1 for All Saints Sunday. We are planning this move with great caution for both our and your safety…really!
We are proceeding with utmost caution and will re-open in the safest way possible. If anyone is uncomfortable with any of the following guidelines, or chooses not to follow them, we ask you to please consider protecting the congregation by worshiping at home as we will continue live streaming our worship services. Also, if you are in an at-risk category (and for your own safety) please join us via our live streaming of the service. Our goal as a congregation is to protect each other from contacting COVID-19. We need to be willing to take precautions to protect ourselves, each other and the community. If anyone, or someone you live with, has had within the past two (2) weeks any signs of cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills, signs or symptoms of the flu, change in or loss of taste or smell, a pending or positive COVID-19 test, please stay at home and join us online for worship.
Outlined below are the in-sanctuary precautions we will be taking in our efforts for worship safety:
· To allow for the spacing we feel will give us the greatest level of safety in our sanctuary, we will be limiting the number of in-person worshipers with a reservation system that will offer both online and call in
options. More details on this will be available as we approach the opening date. Please know that we will be holding to this limited number rigorously, so please plan ahead!
· Please practice social distancing upon arrival. The sidewalks as well as the floors in the building will be marked to provide guidance.
· Ushers will meet you at the front door. Entering & exiting the building will be limited to door A. Coats stay with you. There will be signs and guidance for clarity.
· Face masks need to be worn properly at all times while in the church building. We encourage you to bring your own mask, but masks will be provided at the front entrance for those who do not have one.
· Ushers will direct seating. Please sit only with members of your immediate household. Spacing of 6 ft. will be maintained with signs and markings on the pews. And remember that you may not get to sit in your
favorite spot…we can do this people!
· Hand sanitizer will be available at the front entrance. Please use it before entering further.
· The offering plate will be located at back of the sanctuary as you leave
· To limit items being touched, all Bibles, hymnals, forms, and pencils have been removed from the pews.
· The bulletin will be available as usual online. We will have a limited number of preprinted ones available.
· There will be no communal singing or responsive/out loud readings
· There will be no nursery or in-sanctuary “kid’s PRATground” area available. Families are encouraged to bring quiet toys (no busy-bags will be available) with them and remain together as a family during the service.
· We will be distributing our prepackaged single-serve Communion cups outside before you enter the
· The restrooms will be available. Please maintain a safe distance and wash your hands after use.
· Ushers will dismiss you by pews to exit.
Worshiping on-site is a decision you and your family will need to prayerfully make. Some of you will decide to return to the sanctuary for worship, and some of you will choose to remain at home for worship (live streaming will continue). Either way you choose, God is still speaking among us. Be well and know that you are greatly loved!
In God’s Peace, Your Shepherd Staff
Pr. Renee, Jilene, Pr. Brice, Joe, Sr. Tashina, Miranda, and Michelle
Rhythms! Fall brings its own kind of rhythms to our lives as we all rediscover the “back to’s” that we have come to know, like back to school and back to regular life after summer time vacations. But this fall will be different from last as we all find the new normal and new rhythms in this new way of being.
So here’s what’s new at Shepherd as we all make our way in this new way of being church:
Our building: As we seek to find our new rhythm of fall gatherings, school sessions and general programming we are recognizing how our space (and the amount of it) is a blessing for our community as the weather shifts and we begin to gather indoors for our meetings. We are in continual conversations about how we can move people around in safe ways, what measures we need to take to create the safest environment for everyone concerned and what method of meeting actually meets the needs of our people. We will be using spaces for gatherings that we haven’t before, like the sanctuary and the narthex. We remain grateful for the space to work with and a staff that works extra hard to make this all work for our community.
Our worship: We have (finally) figured out the internet connectivity issues regarding live streaming our
Sunday service and with that improvement our parking lot worship model seems to still be going very well.
We seem to be truly enjoying the chance to worship together and do it safely outside. Our most recent survey
results revealed that while we are making progress towards our comfortability of worshiping in our sanctuary
(a 20% move towards a greater sense of comfortability of worshiping inside together) we remain far from the majority of us actually being comfortable with gathering inside in larger groups. So…. we are planning on
remaining outside until the end of October, and hopefully longer depending upon the inevitable arrival of
winter. We have also tested our outdoor sound equipment in the sanctuary and the broadcast sound was very good, meaning if we decide to live stream from inside the sanctuary due to inclement weather we have
figured out how to get that (good quality) sound to our online listening congregation. Yay!!
Our (other) gatherings: We will continue our Wednesday Island Lake Park 1:00 Bible study gatherings (as long as we are able) and our Wed Zoom 6:30 Bible study gatherings. We are talking about how to move our outside gatherings inside once the weather makes it hard to be outside. Our book study on racism has been going very well. We will be offering another study with a different book (on racism) this fall. Coffee & Donuts in the parking lot and on the lawn has been going well. We have begun reconvening some of our other focus groups (Welcoming Team, Renewal Team, Joy Team) as we figure out how to continue to do ministry in these focus areas during a pandemic.
As we have been saying all along, the church is not closed and never has been. We have been worshiping, doing Bible study, teaching our youth and our preschoolers, doing pastoral care, conducting church business and
connecting through virtual gatherings in all sorts of different ways since this pandemic came to visit in March. And we will do all of those things in-person again…when we are ready. In the meantime we will explore new ways where we can be together and all feel safe and comfortable doing so.
In God’s Peace, Your Shepherd Staff Pr. Renee, Jilene, Pr. Brice, Joe, Sr. Tashina, Miranda and Michelle