Indoor Service Information & FAQ's
Covid Protocols for the Woodbury Church Family (4/22/21)
Throughout this pandemic, we have used CDC guidelines to guide our public gatherings. We realize that perspectives differ on just about every aspect of and response to COVID-19. Given our relative lack of expertise in virology, it has seemed wise to listen to official criteria.
We also realize that this is a constantly changing situation. As we learn, more and as more people get COVID or get vaccinated, guidelines will evolve. We will update these protocols as we get more information.
Church is often a communal space. We want to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to keep people safe. Therefore we are outlining what church guidelines are for our various activities in two relevant areas; Sunday services, and official group gatherings.
Sunday Church Services - We continue to follow the state guidelines for "Houses of Worship”. This means, primarily, asking in-person attendees to wear masks and continuing to social distance. We will continue to provide a non-singing service and a masked singing service.
Groups (Disciple, Youth, Etc.) - Currently, State and CDC guidelines do allow groups to meet. The current state guidelines for in-home groups, such as Disciple Groups, are for no more than 15 people to meet, masked and for members of different households to social distance. For groups meeting outdoors, there are no group size limitations, but the same social-distancing expectations apply. (Groups that have been vaccinated or have previously contracted COVID they are allowed to be indoors without distancing or masks with no more than one unvaccinated or households that lack immunities).
Our Youth Group has and will continue to use Houses of Worship guidelines (see above).
Close Contact - According to the CDC, "close contact" is defined as being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes (over 24 hours) of someone who has COVID-19 or within 48 hours of showing COVID symptoms and testing positive. If you’ve had close contact with someone, we encourage you to follow the CDC guidelines for quarantining and testing. These close contact definitions do not apply to fully-vaccinated people.
We appreciate everyone helping out. Loving others requires us to consider their needs ahead of our own. We also believe these expectations won’t be forever. We want to continue to be able to safely meet in person and these guidelines provides us the best overall chance to make that happen!
Of course, if you’re feeling any COVID-related symptoms or have been a close contact of someone with COVID, please stay home. We continue to offer online services and many groups have the capability to Zoom. Please contact staff for more information.
What we are doing to keep you safe.
-We are offering two Sunday services. (8:30 AM and 10:30 AM) to limit the number of people in the room.
-The church air circulation system will be on during the week
-The building will be sanitized before and commonly-used surfaces (doorknobs, bathrooms, metal on chairs) will be sanitized with a professional-grade cleaner between services.
-We'll have sanitizer stations and masks at the entrance to the building and the auditorium.
-In keeping with Minnesota State mandates, we're requiring everyone to wear masks while inside.
-We're setting up chairs to keep everyone at least 6 feet apart.
-We have limited the seating capacity at each service.
-We are providing prepackaged communion and offering boxes.
-We'll offer a non-singing (8:30) and singing (10:30) service.
-Kids of all ages are welcome at any service but we will have Kingdom Club at our 10:30 service.
What we're asking of you.
- If you’re sick, have underlying health risks or concerns, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please worship from home.
-Allow for six-feet of space. No hugging or handshakes, and be courteous of how closely you’re walking and standing.
-Be aware of hallways and doorways and allow for plenty of space between yourself and other parties.
-Please wear your masks. We'll have masks available if you need one.
-Because we are offering two-services, we don't anticipate coming anywhere near 50% capacity. In the case that we do have a larger number of people than anticipated, we will offer overflowing seating in the Fellowship Hall.
-Bathrooms are open but please limit to no more than three people in the restroom at one time.
-As we dismiss, please be aware of others and give plenty of space as you leave.
This transition is a work-in-progress, stay tuned for adjustments and updates to the services as we get more information!
FAQ and Concerns About Resuming Indoor Services:
Aren’t we supposed to obey God rather than men, if we want to sing or hug, shouldn’t we do those things anyway?
True, there may be times where Christians are called to defy rather than submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13:1) We hope to be prepared for moments like that, but this isn’t one of them. First of all, the goal of our state regulation is to try to keep people safe. Loving people by trying to protect them is part of the disciples' moral code, too! So, this is one of those interesting situations where an expectation to meet together or “greet with a holy kiss”, is coming into conflict with the expectation to love others. We have been praying for wisdom and discernment and, while this might not be the most popular route, we feel confident we’re acting out of love, which is our highest calling. (Galatians 5:14)
Why the big push to move indoors? Isn’t the church more than just the building?
Yes! The building is just a tool for discipleship. It’s merely a convenience that would have been a luxury for Christians throughout history. However, the fellowship and encouragement that is associated with being together are vital to discipleship. However, as many of us have experienced, it is difficult (verging on impossible for some) for this to happen via Youtube or even a video call.
What if I believe that the safety precautions go too far?
We understand. However, we have to have a guiding principle to allow us to make a decision. Given that none of us are experts, as we try to map our way forward, we have decided to listen to the official guidelines. We are not requiring you to believe or agree but, in this case to "bear with" (Col. 3:13). If in a few months, we realize that we were all wrong, that’s OK! At least we were wrong trying to love people.
I have heard that the number of cases in Minnesota is going up. Is it really wise to consider resuming services right now?
There are a couple of items to consider here. Here’s the link to the most current information.
We don’t make this decision lightly. However, we are trying to balance both physical and spiritual concerns. A significant number of our church family have expressed that they’re struggling. The inability to interact with and receive encouragement from fellow Christians has taken a toll on their faith, and honestly, we feel it too. Therefore, we think the best path forward is to listen to guidelines we’ve been given and do our best to safely meet in person together. We certainly do not expect it to be something everyone can or will do.
I don’t feel comfortable coming. Am I going to feel like a second-class Christian if I continue to worship at home?
We hope not! We are committed to continuing to provide a worship-from-home experience. We will also be diligent and aware of our members that are staying home and do our best to stay connected to folks who aren’t able to be with us in person. This is an ongoing process and we’ll adjust and adapt as we go. Please let us know what you need!
I’m afraid it will be awkward with all the safety guidelines.
So, there’s a good chance that the normal Sunday traditions will have to change. Sometimes that’s a good thing! And sure, it might be a little awkward but that's a small price to pay to encourage and be encouraged. Maybe God can push us into a deeper love for one another. Sure, any change can be uncomfortable but, at the risk of being cliche, we’re all in this together!
I’m nervous you all won’t actually enforce the safety precautions.
This is why we’re trying to be extremely clear about the expectations. We will be there to gently remind folks to keep the guidelines. Of course, there is always the risk that people may, accidentally or not, do something that you’re uncomfortable with. We are definitely trusting people to do what is kind.
I’m getting everything I need online, so, while I don’t have any health concerns, I’ll probably just enjoy church from my couch from now on.
We have people who will desperately want to be present, in-person with the church but won’t be able to do so. We are going to work hard to help them feel as connected as they can until they’re able to meet with us. However, if you’re healthy or comfortable and safe being around people, you should strongly consider being present if at all possible (Hebrew 10:25) Scripture emphasizes a disciples’ need for other people, which is why the seclusion and quarantine should be about safety, not convenience.