Dear members and friends of Hope,
Greetings in Jesus’ name! We pray for comfort and strength from our Father in these difficult times. I hope you are you are doing well. This email is to let you know about plans for Hope’s worship services in response to the presence of the COVID-19 virus in the Austin area.
As of now, we plan to resume worship service and Bible class at Hope starting this coming Sunday, March 22nd, at 9am with Pastor Heckmann officiating. To be clear, that means this Wednesday’s mid-week services are canceled. Carl Repp will record this Wednesday’s message and post it on our facebook page. Mid-week services will resume next week on March 25th. However, we are discontinuing the Advent meals until further notice. The Men’s Group get together Tuesday evening is postponed until next week, on the 24th. We will resume Sunday School at a later date when more is known about the course this virus will take, and how best to manage it. We will also change a few practices at our worship services aimed at preventing spread of the virus.
One thing we all learned last week is that the situation can change fast. We will monitor guidance and mandates from local, state, and national officials and adjust accordingly. Please check your inbox on Friday. We will send an email to confirm we are resuming service, or let you know about any necessary changes.
This is a time for all of us to pray for the Lord to heal those who are sick, and to grant wisdom and strength to us all. Wash your hands frequently, especially every time you return home. If you feel sick, please stay home. Remember that many of us are in the high-risk category because of age. Do not needlessly endanger others. If you feel uncomfortable coming to church at this time know that you are free in the Gospel to remain at home. We will record the services and post them on Hope’s facebook page to aid you worshiping at home. Let Pastor or your Elder know if you feel ill so we may respond.
These are the new practices we will adopt this Sunday:
• Practice social distancing. Awkward as this may seem, it means no handshakes, hugs, fist bumps, and so forth. Greet each other with waves and smiles big enough to be seen from six feet away.
• There will be hand sanitizer at the doors for your use as you enter. Please do sanitize your hands upon entry.
• Use all of the pews – yes, even the front row – in order to space out by six feet during worship. Families and couples from the same household should group together.
• Sharing the peace will be by way of eye contact and hand waves. Please do continue to say, “Peace be with you,” or use your usual words.
• We will receive communion by walking up to Pastor and the assistants while maintaining spacing. Wine will be given by way of individual cups or tincture (dipping of the wafer in the wine by Pastor before he administers communion). We will not sip from the common cup.
• The offering plates will not be passed down the rows. Instead they will be set up for you to drop in your offering. This is an excellent time to consider setting up your online giving account.
• All pews, chairs, door handles, tables, etc., will be wiped down with sanitizer before the service. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, will be wiped down from time to time all morning.
• The entry doors will be propped open unless it is raining. In that case someone will be at the doors to open them for you.
• If you find you must cough or sneeze please do so into the corner of your arm at the elbow, or into a tissue.
• In accordance with the latest CDC guidelines as of this writing we will limit the number of worshipers in the sanctuary to 50, and overflow into the Parish Hall.
• Coffee and drinks will be available before Sunday service and between worship and Bible Class. Food will not be provided for now.
The peace of the Lord be with you,
Bill Martino, President