In response to the recent lifting of many of the New York state COVID-19 restrictions, the elders of LAC have revisited the safety protocols we have had in place here at the church. At the June 2021 session meeting, the following key changes to our worship and building use policies were made:
- We Can Sing Again! One of the most cherished experiences of worship is the joining of our voices in praise to God. We have all missed this shared blessing over the past year, and we are thrilled that the way is now clear for us to restore the practice of sung responses and congregational song.
- Masks Still Required in the Sanctuary. While many organizations have made masks optional for vaccinated persons, most of the guidance on church music suggests that singing without the protection of masks remains an unadvisable risk. As the session deliberated this question, the consensus was that, given the choice between no masks or no singing, we would opt for making a joyful noise together. We will, of course, continue to monitor the guidance as it continues to change.
- Advance Reservations Preferred but Not Required. The use of prior registration has proven helpful, both in giving people assurance that they will have a space in the pews, and in giving the church helpful contact tracing information should notice need to be given. However, the session does not want this step to be a hindrance to worship attendance. From now on, persons who do not pre-register need only take a moment to sign in at the entrance door.
- Entry through Larchmont Avenue Door. Speaking of entrance doors, we will continue to use only the Larchmont Avenue door for entry prior to worship so that protocols can be maintained and cross-traffic minimized.
- Baptisms. It brings us great joy that we will once again be able to gather around the font to celebrate the sacrament of baptism. For the protection of the person to be baptized and their family members, the two front pews will be closed for seating, the pastor shall remain masked, and the font will be filled with fresh water prior to each baptism.
- Lord’s Supper. Until further notice, the sacrament shall continue to be served as it was in June (i.e., with individual bread servings pre-packaged and distributed upon entry and the sharing of the cup deferred for individualized observance after the service is concluded).
The session believes that these changes represent reasoned, appropriate, and well-timed steps to take as we try to maintain a worship experience that is both safe and meaningful. We give our thanks to God for the hopeful progress we are seeing in our own neighborhoods as the vaccines do the work they are intended to do. However, we also ask that the community of LAC will continue in fervent prayer for the billions of people around the world who are still suffering under the deadly cloud of this virus. May God’s grace and healing power be felt wherever it is needed most.
Blessings and peace,