SAINT PAUL LUTHERAN CHURCH – Catonsville, Maryland

Manual for COVID-19 Practices: Revised September 24, 2020

(Prepared by the Saint Paul Lutheran Church Reopening Committee)

This revision of the original Manual for COVID-19 Practices of June 9, 2020 aims to keep the St. Paul sanctuary a safe environment for worship while allowing an increase in the number of worshippers who may worship in the sanctuary (see “Seating Arrangements” below). The manual continues to be based in great part on the guidance and requirements posted by the State of Maryland and the CDC. It is imperative that all congregation members and visitors follow the guidelines and requirements of this manual to ensure everyone’s safety.

Entry into the Building – Plan to arrive early as it will take time to be seated

Use one of the following two entrances:

  1. From the parking lot, use the black metal staircase to the second floor hallway.
  2. From parking in front of the church, use the main Red Doors

THE FELLOWSHIP HALL ENTRANCE WILL BE LOCKED.  NO ONE IS PERMITTED IN THE LOWER LEVEL.  the Church/School Office WILL not BE open – YOU May not access this area.

No one should enter the church for worship who displays symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 during the past 14 days. However, to ensure everyone’s safety, ushers will be taking the temperatures of all who enter using a handheld device. Two ushers will be assigned for each service and will be assisted by two elders. A full face mask covering nose and mouth must be worn by all.

Seating Arrangements

The official capacity of St. Paul sanctuary is 300; based on revised state and county guidelines, St. Paul may now use up to 75% of that capacity for worship. Thus, even given the principles of maintaining social distancing, the sanctuary may hold more than the 100 worshippers we have allowed up to now. Thus, Ushers will seat attendees on the ends of pews as before, but may also allow single worshippers or small family groups to sit in the middle of pews that have been closed off. Only ushers may open closed pews. Ushers may also request that you move to another pew to allow more people to sit in each pew. The balcony will continue to be used for overflow.

Prior to Service

Ushers will be positioned at each of the two entrances to the narthex (from the Red Doors and parking lot) to ensure that everyone is wearing a full face mask and practicing social distancing. Ushers/elders will record who attends and (may) take temperatures.

Because we want to increase the number of people who can sit in the sanctuary, there can be no self-seating. Instead, ushers positioned at the center aisle doors will lead worshippers to their seats, allowing one or two (couple) in at a time.  Family groups may be seated at one time. Ribbons continue to close the pews that are unavailable. No ribbon means the pew is open.

To preserve everyone’s safety, there can be no visiting before the service in the narthex or sanctuary.

A offering collection plate will be located in the narthex for your offering envelopes.

Worship Service    

Sunday service will continue with no-touch Holy Communion. Individual cups of wine and wafers in cups will be placed in trays with sufficient space between each element on one table at front of the church, just below the steps leading to the altar area.

There will still be no passing of the peace, no children’s message, and no passing of collection plates. Masks covering mouth and nose must be worn at all times in church except when actually taking communion.

When Pastor Greg is in the chancel (altar, pulpit, and lectern – praying, preaching, or reading), he will not wear a face mask.  He will wear a face mask during the consecration and distribution of the sacrament and at all other times. Pastor will continue reading the readings appointed for the day.

The Acolyte will sit with his or her family except when lighting/extinguishing the candles.

While printed bulletins will include all necessary information for the service, hymnals will be used for singing hymns.

During Service

Should anyone need to use the bathroom, only two are available: 1) the ladies’ room next to the church/school office, and 2) the men’s room in the Media Center. Please plan ahead.

No items may be passed between people during the service except between family members.

Ushers shall remain in the narthex to assist any late comers.

In the event a child is unable to maintain proper social distancing or otherwise needs to leave the sanctuary, we ask that you leave the church building, preferably by the Red Doors.  

Close of Service

The ushers will lead congregants out one pew at a time, starting from the back of the church. Congregants may only exit via the center aisle; side aisles may not be used. Please wait to be dismissed by the ushers. Do not shake hands.

To exit the building, please return the way you came in, either by way of the Red Doors or via the Media Center hallway to the single door on the left that opens onto the black metal staircase leading down to the parking lot.

Fellowship must be enjoyed outside the church building. Pastor will exit the sanctuary by the door leading out from his office and will greet you in the area near the Red Doors.

Emergencies

  • Should someone become ill, ushers will help relocate that person to the designated emergency station, which is located in the copy room of the church/school office. 911 will be called and the person kept comfortable until help arrives.

Once the situation is stabilized, the ushers must cordon off the pew from access by anyone until the area can be sanitized.

Miscellaneous

Adult Bible study will begin in the sanctuary on September 27. Youth Sunday School will be held outside weather permitting. The Fellowship Hall or Media Center may not be used for Sunday School.