Beloved People of Bethlehem,
Worshiping together is an essential part of our mission. Bethlehem is committed to providing various opportunities for worship (radio, online, drive-in, and indoors). Resuming worship in the sanctuary is an important step in our journey through the wilderness of COVID-19. Because worship involves activities that pose higher risk of transmission of the corona virus, our indoor worship practices will be adapted to reduce risks, especially for the most vulnerable.
Important information follows. Please read through to the end.
When will worship in the sanctuary be an option?
Our Healthy Return Task Force (including members who are local medical professionals and educational leaders) and Joint Commission anticipate starting July 12th with an 8:30 Sunday morning option and continuing each Sunday. These modified services will be limited initially to 100 participants and pre-registration will be required. Presuming that the local COVID-19 situation allows, we anticipate adapting and adding additional options as we move forward.
Will our Drive In, Online & Radio Broadcast worship services continue?
- The Drive In worship will be held (weather permitting) each Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the East Parking Lot.
- The on-line services will continue on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. on our website at https://bit.ly/blcworshipvideos.
- Our radio broadcast will remain on Sunday mornings at 10:45 on 1420 AM.
What will worship in the Sanctuary be like?
Jesus is the center and worship will include:
- connecting with God through prayer including confession and forgiveness,
- hearing God’s Word and preaching of the Gospel,
- receiving the gifts of grace through Holy Baptism and Holy Communion,
- praying together for the church, the world and all those in need, and
- offering our resources for the mission and ministry of Bethlehem.
Because we love our neighbors and many typical worship practices pose significant risk of transmission, we will be refraining from some practices at this time. As we begin in the sanctuary worship, we will not be:
- sitting close to people not in our “family circle,”
- physically touching one another (for example sharing the peace),
- group singing, or
- leading in close proximity to the people in the pews (the 25+ feet from pulpit to pews provides safe distance for leaders to remove masks when leading).
In order to protect the most vulnerable, we will expect all to:
- respect a safe physical distance from others,
- wear a face covering over their nose and mouth (unless younger than 2), and
- stay home if you are not feeling well or have been exposed to a COVID-19 situation or person.
So that the sanctuary may be a safe place for all, if you are unwilling to worship with these restrictions, please continue to worship outdoors, online, or with our radio broadcast.
How can we protect the health of our neighbors, especially ones in higher risk categories?
We cannot protect everyone against every risk. Maintaining a safe distance and wearing a mask protect others. We do encourage those in higher risk categories to continue worshiping through our online, Drive In and radio broadcast services. If you are safeguarding your health by worshiping with our radio broadcast, please contact us (605-225-9740) so that we can send you weekly bulletins.
High-risk categories include, but are not limited to:
- Aged 65 or older
- Immune Compromised
- Heart Conditions
- Lung Conditions
Please refer to the CDC Guidelines here for further information.
How do I reserve a place for worship in the sanctuary?
to safeguard your health, we will be limiting
the number of worshipers for each service and having people make
reservations prior to coming to worship in the sanctuary. To make a reservation, please call the church
(605) 225-9740. We ask that all who are planning to attend a worship service, please register by 11 AM each Friday. Members of the same household will be able to sit and worship together.
If you are worshiping in the sanctuary, please follow these steps:
- Check your own health, and if you are not feeling well or have been exposed to the coronavirus, please worship online or on the radio.
- Bring a face covering that covers both the nose and mouth. These will be required for all worshipers. If you do not have one, we will be glad to provide you with one upon arrival at the church.
- Arrive early and practice 6 ft. social distancing as you enter and during the worship service.
If you or a loved one experiences any COVID-19 symptoms, please contact your local health care provider or emergency room. If you test positive or someone you've been in contact with tests positive, please call us at (605) 225-9740 as soon as possible so we can appropriately assist in contact tracing.
Our church will be working with local public health officials to follow a contact tracing protocol.
Sincerely in Christ,
Your Healthy Return Task Force
Jeff Whillock, Lead Pastor
Vicci Stange, President
Dr. Shirlene Smook
Dr. Lyle Biegler
Sue Helling, RN