Re-Opening Manual – June 9, 2020

SAINT PAUL LUTHERAN CHURCH – Catonsville, Maryland

Manual for COVID-19 Practices: June 9, 2020

Prepared by the Saint Paul Lutheran Church Reopening Committee

This manual has been developed to put appropriate precautions in place to ensure a safe environment for returning to live worship in the St. Paul church sanctuary. The manual is based in great part on the guidance and requirements posted by the State of Maryland and the CDC. We recognize that our manual will require modifications and updates as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. However, it is imperative that all congregation members and visitors adhere to the guidelines and requirements of this manual to ensure the safety of all.

The following guidelines and requirements define the actions that must be in place before reopening Saint Paul Lutheran Church for Sunday worship services, including the following:

  • Needed supplies for routine cleaning before and after every service of doorplates and door handles, light switches, and any other high-touch areas, and signage;
  • Entry/Exit/Seating Arrangements in the sanctuary; and
  • Worship Service – Setting Four – No congregational singing currently allowed.

Needed Supplies

12 Masks (Norm)

6+ Hand Sanitizers (Norm)

6+ Tissues (Norm)

2 Boxes of disposable gloves for the use of ushers, pastor, elders, and other participants helping with the service. (1 Medium and 1 Large) (Norm)

Trash receptacles for disposal of communion waste  (P&M)

Ribbon/tape to identify pews that cannot be occupied (Norm)

Painters’ tape for 6 feet distancing markings (Norm)

Disposable cups for communion wafers (Norm)

Communion station table (Debbie/Norm/Kevin)

Appropriate signage will be prepared and posted in the church (Norm)

Entry / Exit / Seating Arrangements

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.

The official capacity of St. Paul sanctuary is 300; based on Baltimore County guidelines, 50% of that capacity may attend worship, that is 150 people. However, based on the principles of maintaining social distancing of at least 6 feet, the sanctuary may hold 100 worshippers. The balcony may be used for overflow.

Four ushers will be assigned for each service

Worship Service    (Pastor Foelber , Elders, and Altar Care)

Bible study will remain online at this time; no Sunday School. The Fellowship Hall may not be used.

Sunday service will include Holy Communion. However, there will be no singing, no passing of the peace, no children’s message, and no passing of collection plates.

When Pastor Foelber 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.

At this time, all readings appointed for the day will be done by Pastor Foelber.

At this time, the Acolyte will sit with his or her family except when lighting/extinguishing the candles.

Printed bulletins will include all necessary information for the service.


  • No-touch Communion.
  • Preparations by Pastor or Altar Care with gloves and mask prior to service.
  • Individual cups (only) and wafers in cups (only) will be placed in trays (with sufficient space between each element) on one table at front of the church, below the steps leading to the altar area.
  • Ushers will invite individuals or family groups to take Communion elements from the table and carry them to a spot designated on the floor below the steps leading from the Sanctuary to the altar area. The floor will be marked indicating where communicants are to stand.
  • Communicants will dispose of the cups in designated trash receptacles before returning to their pew.
  • Altar Care, Pastor, or the Elders will properly dispose of the unused elements.

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 stairway to the second floor.
  2. From parking in front of the church, use the main Red Doors


Prior to Service

Bulletins and tape/signs will be placed on pews prior to service to facilitate 6-foot social distancing.

Ushers will be positioned at each of the two entrances to the Narthex (Red Doors and double doors adjacent to the stairwell) to ensure that everyone is wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

There will be no self-seating. Two ushers positioned at the center aisle doors will lead worshippers to their seats, starting at the front of the church, leaving the front pew open, and allowing one or two (couple) in at a time.  Families may be seated at one time. Ribbons will be tied on the pews that are not available. No ribbon means the pew is open. People will be seated beginning at the front of the church and moving to the back.

Face masks must be worn by all.  There will be no congregating inside the church.  Fellowship must be enjoyed outside the church building.

Collection plates will be strategically located within the Narthex for those wishing to bring their offering envelopes.

During Service

Should anyone need to use the bathroom, only two may be used: 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.

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 stairway leading down to the parking lot.


Should someone become ill, ushers will help relocate that person to the designated emergency station 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.