AUGUST 2020: What should you expect at in-person worship in these COVID-19 times?
Please refer to this full August 13, 2020 letter on “Returning to Church” from past council chair Brian Dijkema.
There will be no attendance taken at the door but we ask that people RSVP so we can maintain appropriate numbers. Our first service will be capped at approximately 50 people, and we will expand from there as capacity allows. Given that many people are on vacation, the first service will be a “first to RSVP, first to come” service. You can RSVP by filling in your name, and those who will be joining you, by filling in the poll linked above. Over time we will be moving to a pastorate by pastorate system to ensure that everyone who would like to attend can attend.
Community guests who did not RSVP will be asked to self-screen at the door (a sign with instructions is posted at the door).
Everyone who attends church will be asked to wear a mask at all times. Masks will be provided at the door for those who forget/don’t have one. Children under 2, and those with medical difficulties in breathing are exempt from wearing a mask.
We ask that everyone maintain 6ft distance (this does not include families, roommates, or members of the same household) including while in the pews. Pews have been roped off to ensure that there is 6ft between pews, and ushers will assist you to your seat.
The flow in and out of the sanctuary will be one way, and hand sanitizers will be available at the entrance and exit, and in other spots in the church.
There will be no children’s programs or nursery at this time. Lord willing we can move toward this soon. Children (yes, this includes noisy/fidgety ones) are welcome to worship alongside all us trained adults.
Washrooms will be closed. If there is an urgent need, the wheelchair accessible washroom will be available for use.
Pew bibles and songbooks will not be present (Update: We have been told by public health authorities that using pew bibles and hymn books poses very little risk. The time between services is so great that the risk is negligible. Thus, we will be leaving the bibles and hymnbooks in place. You are still encouraged to bring your own bible, and all words/music will still be projected on the screens.)
At this time, we will not be singing together, including live worship teams (virtual teams will projected on the screen). Current data suggest a significant enough increased risk to hold off for now. We are working to find ways to ensure that music and singing can be done in a way that allows us to properly worship while minimizing risk to an acceptable level. We will update you about any changes.
The pastor will not wear a mask while preaching and leading the service, and will be the sole user of the podium microphone. We are working on ways of ensuring that readers and those leading congregational prayer can be present for both those in church, and those who are watching from home.
When church is over, we ask that everyone exit row-by-row in the same manner as weddings to allow for physical distancing.
We totally understand the desire to congregate together after the service, but we do ask that you continue to maintain physical distance while speaking outside, and that you provide plenty of room for people to use the paths.
What about Lord’s Supper?
Celebrating Lord’s Supper will look slightly different as
well. Here is what to expect:
There will be one serving station with two servers spaced apart. Both servers will be masked and will have donned gloves.
Bread will be served with tongs directly into your hand. The juice will also be given to you directly by the server.
We will proceed in a line, per usual, we simply ask that you maintain 6ft of space between you and the next person.
We will serve on the right side of the church near the piano, and once served, you can walk up the middle aisle back to your seat with the elements in hand.
Masks will be removed for eating the bread, and drinking the juice, and we will put them on after the elements have been consumed.
Those who feel uncomfortable participating should feel no pressure to come. It’s the banquet of the Lord, not a box you need to check for your soul. If you don’t feel comfortable taking communion in church at this time, please just take the time to meditate in your heart on Christ’s love and sacrifice.
Our community comes together from all across the City of Hamilton. Some walk to church while others drive, some wear suits and ties while others dress casually, some have been in the church community for over 50 years and others are very new.
In our worship services, we immerse ourselves in God’s story and worship Him through singing together, prayer to God and listening to His Word, celebrating the sacraments of Lord’s Supper and baptism, and offering our gifts to Him. Our musical style is a blend of contemporary and traditional songs.
Every Sunday morning service we offer nursery care for infants and young children, as well as Sunday School and Children’s Worship for children from JK through grade 5.
Wherever you are coming from, whatever you are wearing and whatever you bring with you, you are welcome at First Hamilton and we look forward to getting to know you better.
Transformed by the gospel;
our city and world renewed in Christ.