GFLC Returning to the Church Building in Phases
With the recent approval by Governor Brown for Deschutes County to begin Phase 1 reopening (https://govstatus.egov.com/reopening-oregon), there’s still much confusion about what that means for churches. For Grace First Lutheran, we will be following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), ELCA, Oregon Synod, our GFLC healthcare professionals, as well as coordinating our plans with other churches in Bend.
Here are the guiding principles we used as we thought through this process:
We will always follow any guidelines put forth by the Governor, the Oregon Health authority, the CDC and the ELCA Oregon Synod.
We may choose to be more restrictive than what is currently allowed by these guidelines if we have reason to believe it would be in the best interest of our members, friends, and visitors, as well as our larger community.
We will revisit these guidelines frequently based on updated information and any changes to external guidelines.
We will strive to remain as inclusive as possible by considering all those who could be affected by our decisions.
We are forming a transition team that will be responsible for developing our plans for worship and other activities in the church building and communicating those plans to the entire congregation. Our future plans are a work in progress, but here’s what is currently in place at GFLC.
We will follow current physical distancing protocols of maintaining 6-foot separation and wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth. Employees may remove their masks while in their offices.
We will not be holding any GFLC events at the church in the near future. That means no worship services, Bible studies, committee meetings, or other group gatherings at church. The only exceptions are: (1) approved funerals that comply with group size, distancing and sanitation requirements, and (2) SHINE Preschool which is operating under Oregon rules for Emergency Childcare Providers.
Secretary Lynn is keeping limited office hours (currently on Tuesdays & Thursdays), however people are discouraged from going into the church building other than for essential items. If you do go, wear a mask and wipe down all surfaces you touch with a disinfectant wipe. Also keep at least 6 feet away from any other people in the building.
Because current restrictions limit gatherings to 25, require the use of masks, no singing, and a stay-at-home recommendation for ‘at risk’ persons (which includes anyone over the age of 65), Pastor Andrew will continue to livestream services on Facebook at 9:30 on Sunday mornings for the near future. These livestreams will be done from Pastor’s home, with members invited to participate by sharing videos of music or readings to add diversity to the services: Please let Pastor Andrew know if you’d like to participate. firstname.lastname@example.org mobile: 541.771.0889
We will continue to stay connected with each other through the calling teams, Zoom youth and children’s activities and Zoom committee meetings, email, mailings to those without electronic connectivity, and other creative ideas we may discover as we learn new ways of remaining a strong worshiping community.
Again, we will revisit our plans frequently as updated information and guidelines continue to evolve. We realize that many people are anxious to return to our physical worship space. Our number one consideration is the health and safety of all persons, so we are being thoughtful to not hurry the process. We want to avoid having to move “backwards” if we proceed too quickly.
With God’s blessings to all,
Grace First Lutheran Church Council
Rev. Andrew Bansemer