Friday July 3, 2020

Dear St. John’s family and friends,  

As we all know very well, the church never “closed.” This pandemic has reminded us that the church is not a building. The church is the people! Together, we have learned how to worship in new ways, just as we have learned new avenues for fellowship, outreach, and creating community. Though we have missed gathering with you in person, we are thankful we have been able to continue connecting through the use of technology.  

Last week, the COVID-19 Task Force presented guidelines for resuming in-person worship to the Church Council, which you will find below. An online registration system will be used to ensure we can welcome new people while making seating available for our existing members and friends. Registration will begin on Tuesdays, and you will need to register each week you plan to attend. A link to register will be included in the Inside St. John’s on the Tuesday prior to worship, on our website, on Facebook, and in the Friday newsletter.  

When we resume in-person worship, we will worship in the Family Life Center, where we can more easily follow safety and physical distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Louisiana State Fire Marshall and the Louisiana Conference of the UMC.  

For the past 14 weeks, we have pre-recorded our worship services and premiered them online on Sunday mornings. As we prepare to resume in-person worship we are also preparing to launch a livestream of our worship, so that whether you are present or watching at home, we will all be together in spirit. To that end, beginning Sunday, July 12th, worship will be recorded in the Family Life Center so that we can begin testing our new AV equipment and also start preparing the space for in-person worship when that time comes.   

The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to discuss adjustments we may need to make to our plans in the coming days and weeks, as more information comes to light. We appreciate your patience and understanding during these challenging and unprecedented times. But most of all, we appreciate your continued commitment to God’s work here at St. John’s. This crisis has reminded us what a blessing it is to have a congregation committed to serving Christ through the good times and the challenging ones. I am confident that because of you, St. John’s will come out of this stronger than ever before.

I hope you have a safe and relaxing 4th of July weekend. Like many things right now, it may be a different kind of celebration. Please take care of yourself, my friends, and I look forward to gathering with you again when it’s safe.  

Grace and peace,
Pastor Lane
pastorlane@stjohnsbr.org

If you choose to worship in-person with us, here’s what you need to know:

Resuming In-Person Worship Overview

Registration:

  • Space limited to 100 people, including staff and volunteers
  • Pre-registration required (through Eventbrite)
  • Walk-ins welcomed up to 10-20. Registration on the spot.

Set Up:

  • FLC chair configurations with social distancing guidelines
  • Hand sanitizer offered at entrance & exits
  • Offering baskets available near exits
  • No refreshments
  • First row of chairs 15 feet from the platform

Entry:

  • Welcome tent outside FLC for check in
  • Signs along the walkway reminding of health and safety guidelines
  • All persons must wear mask
  • Congregants seated in their group by worship hosts

During Service:

  • Congregation refrains from singing at this time
  • Musicians spaced 6 feet apart
  • Preacher and Liturgist wears mask when not speaking
  • No bulletins (or any other hand out)
  • Offering will be received during the service following social distancing protocols
  • Worship will be abbreviated to reduce the amount of time we are gathered inside together
  • A photo will be taken to assist with contact tracing if needed.

Dismissal:

  • Congregation will be dismissed by ushers.
  • Hand sanitizer available at exits.
  • Baskets for offering available at exits.
  • Complete sanitation of FLC after service

Other matters:

  • Restrooms closed except in emergencies. Parents should accompany children.
  • Pastors will present safety protocols at the start of service   

Read our updated Frequently Asked Questions page for more detailed information, and you may download this Resuming In-Person Worship Overview as a PDF here.

Guidelines for Worship in Phase 2 from the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church

St. John’s UMC COVID-19 Task Force Members

Rhonda Tucker (Lay Leader), Bonnie Byland, Pat Cobb, Donnie Lambert, Latrice Mallard, John Toney, Rev. Lane Cotton Winn, Rev. Deirdre’ Halliburton

Download the full recommendations from our COVID-19 Task Force that were unanimously approved by the Church Council in May 2020.

Find past Messages from Pastor Lane relating to COVID-19 here.

Read about the COVID-19 Memorial Crosses, which were displayed on our campus during Holy Week and Easter Season 2020 in memory of the lives lost to COVID-19 in Louisiana.

Read frequently asked questions about COVID-19’s impact on St. John’s and their answers here.