This past Wednesday, Governor Newsom updated the guidelines for churches in the state of California. While most of the guidelines remain the same, there is one significant change which impacts us at Holy Cross. It reads as follows:
Discontinue singing (in rehearsals, services, etc.), chanting, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets. Consider practicing these activities through alternative methods (such as internet streaming) that ensure individual congregation members perform these activities separately in their own homes.
The full guidelines may be found as a PDF document here.
The elders and I met Thursday (July 2, 2020) and had considerable discussion about how we may best comply with the state mandates. We also received very helpful counsel from our organists. How we are approaching this was a unanimous decision of the elders and musicians. This is how we will adjust our worship practices for the month of July:
- We will use Divine Service IV, which is a mostly spoken liturgy (this was already planned).
- We will speak the Introit/Psalm, rather than sing it.
- We will ask the organists to play the communion distribution hymns, but the congregation will not sing them. We will encourage the congregation to meditate on the text of the hymns while the organist is playing. It’s possible later in the month that we will have soloists sing the hymns, but we will see.
- We will continue to have the opening, sermon, and closing hymns as usual. We will also continue with whatever other sung liturgy there is (e.g. the Kyrie, Gloria, and so forth).
We considered omitting singing/chanting entirely, and decided not to do so. There are several reasons for this:
- We are practicing both social distancing AND masks during worship. This already significantly limits the risk involved with singing. All of these practices remain in place.
- All of the other protocols we have in place have the cumulative effect of reducing risk, such as hand sanitizers, alternating pews, and asking people to leave promptly after services.
- Singing is an integral part of what it means to worship as Lutherans.
For each weekend in July, we are having three services:
- 5:00 p.m. Saturday evening
- 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning
- 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning
We need you to register for church so we know how many people are coming. Because of social distancing, we are limited to around fifty (50) people per service.
With three services, that should be enough for everyone to attend who wants to do so. You need to register for services every week. All of the July service times are now online. Please make sure to go to the following web site to find the registration information:
If you can try to get to church about 20 minutes ahead of time, we should be able to get everyone seated without too much trouble. I will ask the organists to play a little bit more pre-service music than usual.
I look forward to seeing you all soon!
We keep our Holy Cross Response to COVID-19 page updated on the website. Peace be with you.