28 Apr An Update Concerning Gov. Reynolds’ April 27 Proclamation
Blessed Holy Easter Season to all your Brothers.
Yesterday Governor Reynolds gave a proclamation that will begin to open up some businesses in the state of Iowa. This is true for 77 of our 99 counties. For the remaining 22 counties there remains current restrictions until May 15 to be reassessed at that time. Most of Iowa District East congregations are in 19 of the 22 counties still restricted.
We have looked into this thoroughly and not once but three times to make sure, these restriction DO NOT apply to places of worship. All 99 counties are free to gather again for worship services. While the proclamation does allow for worship services it does so with the expectation that those who assemble will exercise extreme caution when meeting. Basically that means that there is still a need to observe the social distance of 6 feet between groups who are not of your household. That can be done quite easily by simply keeping one pew empty between worshipers. I trust we all can figure what 6 feet looks like and abide without much difficulty. If space is a problem and you normally have one service you could have two (or more) for a while which would make for more room.
These suggestions apply to those who choose to assemble again as a congregation. The decision to reassemble (or not) is up to the local jurisdiction, the congregation. If it is decided that your congregation should open for Divine Service, consider that many people may still stay home, and that your digital recordings of the service and Bible study may still be needed by your members.
The next question to address is how to administer the Lord’s Supper while taking the precautions of social distancing. What I share with you are ideas you may follow if you wish but in no way do I offer these as mandates. The authority to exercise the Sacrament is totally within the local jurisdiction of the congregation (shepherd and sheep). Here are a few ideas I offer that may be useful in some places but not in all places. You decide how you can or need to adjust in order to comply with the Governor’s proclamation.
- Rather than commune at the rail, have a walk through line with elder assisting. At minimum, each household group would stand 6 feet behind the one ahead of them. You could also simply dismiss by household. In either case, the next household would then move up to receive the Sacrament when the preceding group has left to return to their pew. OR
- Conduct the Supper as you normally would at the rail but keeping 6 feet between each communicant. It would be wise then to wipe the rail after each group leaves the Table. OR
- In larger congregations use more than one walk through line if space avails. Maybe two distribution stages, one in front of each set of pews. Same 6 feet distance between family groups.
- The question remains about the Common Cup or individual cups. This is up to the local jurisdiction. There has been a great deal of fear instilled in our members from the media and other frightening reports. An option is to use the individual cups until the fear has subsided (personally I will take of the Common Cup) and then reintroduce the Common Cup when normalcy returns.
- The Pastor and any assisting elders should sanitize between communing households. Should you use individual cups you ought space them in the tray so that the person taking one does not touch another.
- Please have the Pastor distribute the host so that the communicants are not all reaching into the paten throughout the distribution.
Concluding the service there wouldn’t be any shaking of hands. It may be a good idea also to wipe the covers of the hymnals that were used. Providing wipes for everyone would make this easier to do at end of Divine Service.
It does appear as though bible class can be conducted as long as social distancing can be observed, but encourage your parishioners to bring their own Bibles. Funerals and weddings are able to be conducted but the food fellowship or receptions are limited to less than 10 people. These are some suggestions you may want to consider as you reassemble for worship services. Please be careful and acknowledge there are some who will still be hesitant to attend. We do not want to burden their consciences. Time will allow for fear to subside and rejoin the assembly. God bless you as we give all praise and thanks to our Lord for allowing us to return via the voice of our Governor. Keep her, our president and all in authority in your prayers. May we never forget “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia.
God be with you.