Rocklin, California

Tag: Covid

Letter About Reopening June 6-7

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Dear Friends at Holy Cross,

The day is nearly upon us! God willing, the last “internet only” service will be on May 31, on Pentecost. Starting on June 6 and 7, we are offering our regular services once again.

But as we all know, even what is normal isn’t quite normal yet.

There are several things I want you to know about what services will be like next weekend, and there are also several things that I will need you to do in preparation for coming to God’s house once again to receive His gifts.

First of all is the question, am I ready to come back to church? Notice I did not ask, do I want to come back to church? I’m sure we all want to come back to church. If you don’t want to come back, then we certainly need to talk! But whether you are ready is a health and wellness question, not really a question of desire. Coming back to church means increasing your own risk of exposure to COVID-19, because it means being in proximity with more people in an enclosed space. We are doing everything possible to reduce the risk, as you will see below. But there is no way to eliminate the risk entirely. There is no shame in waiting. Each person in our congregation is in a different health situation, and has a different perspective on how best to handle things right now. That is your right, and I fully support it.

Next is the registration for attending services. We are having services on Saturday, June 6, at 5:00 p.m., as well as our normal Sunday morning times of 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. We will also continue to offer one live-streamed service each weekend, and are moving the live stream to the 8:00 a.m. service time every week.

Because of the size of our building, we are limited to no more than 50 people per service. In order to reasonably accomplish that, we have set up a registration site. Please go to this site:

Reopen.church for Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Please go as soon as you are able and sign up for whatever service you wish to attend. Everyone needs to go to this page to register for a service, even if you told your mercy group leader when or if you were attending. Also notice that one of the options is “At Home Visit w/Communion from a Pastor.” They force us to put a time, but ignore it. I won’t be visiting you at midnight, I promise! If you sign up there, we will know that you would like one of the pastors to come and bring you the Lord’s Supper. We will contact you the week of June 7 to schedule a time for that visit.

Next are the health and safety measures being put in place. I’m not going to list every single one, yet here are some of the highlights:

  • There will be a health self-screening area for you as you enter the building
  • So, so many hand sanitizers
  • One way movement in and out of the building
  • Social distancing (6′ between family groups) throughout the building
  • Everyone attending the services will be required to wear masks. You may pull your mask down for receiving the Lord’s Supper
  • Continuous communion distribution (standing up), rather than kneeling at the communion rail
  • Greetings and gathering will be minimized

I know that there are many, many more questions about all of this. I would encourage you to go to our church’s COVID-19 page to find more answers. We are working on a FAQ, which I hope will try and answer questions along the way. The web site is:

Holy Cross and COVID-19

Finally, we have Bible Class. For right now, we are continuing to do Bible Class on ZOOM but will move the time to our normal time of 9:30 a.m. I realize this will make it a bit tight for people attending the 10:45 service, so we may finish a little earlier than usual. Once we have the services figured out, then we will start thinking through how to move Bible classes back into the buildings.

I’m sure you have more questions. Keep in touch, and don’t hesitate to ask your questions. I will also do an open Q&A from 11-11:30 on Sunday, May 31. We will do this immediately following bible class.

There are a lot of people working very hard to make all of this work as best as we are able. Please remember to continue to show grace and hospitality to all as we figure this out.

I can’t wait to see all of you!

In Christ,
Pastor Peperkorn

On Reopening and Plans for June

May 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:1–2

Who would have thought that when we closed the doors after March 15, that we would be sitting here now, waiting and hoping that we would see the end of this lockdown? It was over two months ago now, but it seems like an eternity. I know that you are all every bit as anxious and impatient as I am to re-join together at the Altar of our Lord, to hear His Word in person, and to see one another, even if it is in a socially distant way.

I believe we are getting close.

Most of you probably heard about President Trump’s speech on Friday, where he declared churches “essential,” and indicated that he will override any governor who says otherwise. It is not our place here to enter into the politics of all of it. But it is clear that even California will be reopening for churches sooner rather than later. Some of you have probably even read about the 1200 pastors and 3000 congregations who are planning on reopening on May 31, whether the governor allows it or not. If President Trump’s mandate doesn’t push things, this probably will.

I want to write to you all and let you know what all is happening in terms of reopening the church and the academy. They are on different tracks and schedules, but there are many people who are working hard on both parts of this so that we can reopen our doors safely, legally, and responsibly. Here is what we know right now:

Church Services

As of today, nothing has officially happened in terms of churches reopening in California. However, Governor Newsom announced on Friday that there will be guidelines going out on Monday (May 25) for churches and reopening. Here is our current best thinking on what will be happening with Holy Cross having in-person services:

  • The earliest we would do these in person services is the weekend of June 7. I am planning on doing our service live-streamed on the morning of May 31.
    I am thinking that we will need to have at least 3 services a weekend. My current thought is that we retain the 8 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. times for Sunday morning, but that we add a Saturday evening service at either 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Depending on numbers and social distancing etc., we may need something different. More on that in a bit.
  • No matter how this plays out, the minimum we will be required to do is practice social distancing, and wear masks.
  • That means every other pew will be roped off and that we will need to have six feet between each family for the service.
  • ’We will offer the Lord’s Supper at these services. They will be full, “normal” services. We will offer the Sacrament with the regular hosts, as well as individual cups and the chalice. The Altar Guild and the Elders will prepare things and will be extremely careful and judicious in preparations to mitigate any risk. It will be up to each person to determine WHEN they want to begin receiving.
  • The sanctuary is starting to be prepped for services this week. This includes things like taking out the pew pads (can’t be cleaned), the hymnals, and anything else that is unnecessary from a disinfectant point of view. All of the toys, etc., from the children’s room will also be removed.
  • There will be so, so much hand sanitizer.
  • We will use some kind of online signup system to determine who is going to what service. It may be we will have to assign what services people attend. Because our occupancy will be limited, things will certainly be a bit messy, especially at the beginning. But rest assured, we will do whatever we have to do to make sure everyone gets to church to receive the gifts who desires to receive them. If that means adding a 4th service, we will.
  • Our short term goal is to care for all of our people. We will then move out to figure out how to make room for visitors, etc.

Bible Classes

My first priority is restoring regular services with the Lord’s Supper. After that comes Bible classes. The main challenge is Sunday morning Bible class, which has upwards of 75 people in attendance. I think we can figure out the smaller classes easily. But my plan is to first figure out worship services, then turn toward Bible classes, as they are all going well online right now.

With all of that being said, I can imagine our Sunday Bible class being a combination of in-person and online. We might even try to do something like have people in Meyer Hall, next door in Room 201, and even in some of the other classrooms or in the Conference Room by the kitchen. It depends partly on if people would rather be in church and watching a video screen, or just be at home. All of this has big implications in terms of cleaning and disinfecting rooms, figuring out the timing of all of this, the technical skills to have all of these things working, and more.

Academy

Our Academy board and staff have been working tirelessly to navigate through the legal, liability, licensing, and safety issues involved with reopening for students. The Academy has been given permission to reopen by the Placer County Office of Education. If everything continues to work as planned, their goal is to reopen on Monday, June 15. This has the full support of the Planning Council and the Elders, and we will continue to support them in whatever way is helpful to make this happen. I’m not including as much detail about this here, because it impacts individual congregation members less directly in the short term. Thank God for Kim Lunsford, Octavia Williams, and all of our staff for the amazing work they are continuing to do in keeping our children safe and cared for!

There will be implications for reopening in terms of staffing and finances, both short-term and long-term. These go beyond the scope of this letter, but rest assured that there are many people working on these things as well. Please feel free to speak with Kim Lunsford our director, or Jerry Matranga, our academy board coordinator, if you have specific questions.

The Survey

In order to learn about your preferences for services, times, and other matters, we have prepared another survey. Please, please take the time to fill this out. It is very important that we get as complete a picture as possible on when you would prefer coming to services and Bible classes, and in whatever other ways you are willing and/or able to help. The link is below:

Online Survey About Returning to In-Person Church and Bible Classes

Conclusion

God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I cannot WAIT to see all of you again in person. It will be better than Christmas. I hope to see you all very, very soon.

In Christ,

Pastor Peperkorn