THE RETURN OF IN-PERSON WORSHIP – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2021 | 10AM
To our church family and friends,
It feels like an eternity since we’ve last gathered in-person – it’s been 21 months, in fact! However, beginning Sunday, December 5, we are returning to our sanctuary, albeit in a limited capacity. What a great time to return “Home for the Holidays.” This letter details the initial phase of our return. Please know that these decisions were made through prayer, advice of health professionals, and listening to the preferences and feedback from many of you. While we are comfortable with our decision, we also understand that there may be some who either have reservations about returning prior to 2022, or prefer we reopen without restrictions (including no vaccination requirements, masks, advanced registration). We understand where there may be hesitancy and preferences for reopening. However, we ask that you’re mindful that these are temporary measures. As the pandemic progresses, and prayerfully slows, our goal is to return at normal capacity, without restrictions or pre-registration as soon as we can (ideally later in 2022). Until then, our phased re-opening has been planned with the health and safety of all members in mind, especially those who are the most vulnerable. We know these measures are different, and perhaps even unlike churches larger than ours. Thank you for your patience, understanding, prayers and continued support of your church – we hope to see you soon, either virtually or in-person, beginning Sunday, December 5 at 10am!
The first phase of our re-opening is as follows:
1. Effective immediately, we are asking every in-person guest to register for our Sunday morning, in-person, limited capacity worship service at 10:00am. Register using this link: www.bit.ly/ctworshiprsvp or text the word “register” to 773-966-0080. The purpose of registration, and a capacity limit, is to allow for physical distancing as COVID-19 and flu season are still upon us. We also want to collect data, if we need to contact trace. We are taking every precaution to ensure everyone is as safe and comfortable as possible. During this time, we will also be collecting vaccination data to help determine when it is safe for us to remove distancing restrictions. We are also asking every member and guest who desire to worship in-person, and are eligible, to be fully vaccinated. This includes children ages 5-11. As you register, you can upload a photo/screenshot of your vaccination card (your health information will be properly disposed of upon review) – you may also bring your vaccine card, or a photo, to worship, but please be sure to register in advance for the service. You only need to show/upload your vaccination details once.
2. When you arrive, please enter and check-in through the main narthex entrance doors (located at 79th & Wabash). There you will get your temperature checked and be checked in. Our team will have a list of who has registered. Just in case, you may want to have a copy/screenshot of your email on hand. We are requiring masks to be worn correctly over the mouth and nose for the duration of worship. A mask will be provided in case you forget yours or a replacement is needed.
3. Our ushers will assist you in finding a seat. For the purposes of social distancing, some rows will be restricted. Family units, particularly those in the same household, are invited to sit together – everyone else will be seated separately. On 1st Sundays, you will receive your individually packaged communion as you enter the sanctuary, or prior to. You will be dismissed by row, as directed by our ushers and other volunteers.
Q: How early can I get into the sanctuary on Sundays?
A: You may enter the sanctuary 15-20 minutes before 10am worship begins.
Q: What if I am unable to register for worship online or via text?
A: No problem! Simply call the church office at 773-874-0175, or send an email with your name and contact information to email@example.com. Our staff will assist with your registration.
Q: Which restrooms are available?
A: The restrooms in the lower level (the stage of the SJ Laws Hall) are available. For the physically challenged, the restroom off of the pulpit/choir stand, through the doors on the west side is available.
Q: Can I enter the Educational Building?
A: No, not at this time. We are asking that persons enter/exit through the main doors off of 79th or Wabash. The Educational Building will be used for officers who need to handle Sunday morning responsibilities.
Q: Will Sunday School, Bible Study, or Kingdom Kids be held on Sundays or during the week in-person?
A: No, all of our Christian Education activities will remain virtual until later in 2022.
Q: Should I come to church if I am not vaccinated or don’t feel well?
A: No, if you are unvaccinated, or are not feeling well, even slightly, we invite you to continue worshipping with us virtually. While we respect everyone’s right to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we are asking only those who are vaccinated to attend worship at this time. We will inform those who are unvaccinated of the proper time to return. For us, this fulfills Christ’s command to love one another, but also Philippians 2:3-4, “…in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Q: Can I bring my physical offering to church?
A: Yes, you can bring your offering to the church on Sundays. While we still encourage electronic or giving by mail, there will be boxes and stewards at the door for you to give your tithes and offerings.
Q: What should I expect during Sunday morning, in-person worship?
A: You should expect an uplifting worship experience, full of singing, dancing, praising, and powerful preaching when you join us in-person or online!
Thank you for adhering to these measures that support our shared responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our faith community – this too shall pass! If you have any questions about the first phase of our in-person return, please call 773-874-0175 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get excited – the RETURN is around the corner!
Pastor Joseph B. Gordon & Carter Temple CME Church