When will in-person worship resume in the sanctuary?
We resumed in-person worship in the sanctuary on Sunday, Jan 3, 2021. We will continue to offer worship online for those who are not yet able to attend in-person. Worship services will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Will we have to wear a mask?
Per recommendations from health experts, the wearing of masks will be required for everyone while on the church campus, including throughout worship. Until further notice, masks are required during service for everyone, even people who have been fully vaccinated. We have taken a firm stance on this to protect the health and safety of everyone. Children under the age of 3 are not required to wear a mask. We will have reusable masks available for those who forget or do not have one.
Will I have to be screened to come into worship?
We will not be taking temperatures at the door. We do ask that you “self-screen” for potential COVID-19 symptoms like: fever, shortness of breath, new or worsening cough, sudden loss of taste and/or smell. If you have any of those symptoms, please stay home and worship with us online. Additionally, if you have been traveling or have expanded your “social bubble” recently, worshiping online is advised.
What specific safety measures will be taken to protect everyone?
- All attendees must wear a mask, including people who are fully vaccinated. Masks will be provided for those without
- Social distancing will be practiced
- Hand sanitizer will be available
- No physical contact
- No bulletins, hymnals, or Bibles will be provided
- Everyone will enter the sanctuary via the Narthex
- Ushers will direct seating
- People who ride to church together will sit together
- The nursery will be closed for the foreseeable future
- OUR ENTRANCE WILL OPEN AT 8:15 & 10:45. If you arrive early, please wait in your car or make sure to practice proper social distancing if you line up in advance.
- Social distancing applies not only to entering but also exiting, so, at the conclusion of the service, we will dismiss in an orderly way. We will ask that you please stay at your seats until being dismissed.
- With capacities and social distancing guidelines different for every room, we ask you to enter no other room or hallways other than those for worship. Emergency exits are marked accordingly.
What about Coffee Time?
We will not be holding Coffee Time for the foreseeable future. This will be revisited when it is deemed safe to resume.
What will worship be like?
We will hear the Word, pray together, and be invited to reflect during solos and instrumental music. The Praise Team will lead music at the 8:30 a.m. service. The organ will be played at the 11:00 a.m. service.
However, worship will feel and look differently than before.
- Ushers will direct seating of worshipers according to social distancing guidelines. Worshipers are asked to remain seated in order to facilitate seating all congregants.
- Worship will be abbreviated.
- We will be unable to have congregational singing.
- We will not pass the peace or physically greet one another before/after the service.
- While we will continue to offer a Children’s Moment, children will be asked to remain with their caregivers at their seats.
- We will not have bulletins, hymnals or pew Bibles.
- Ushers, wearing masks, will direct congregants at the appropriate times.
These procedures will be evaluated regularly and adjusted based on the research and guidelines from health experts. We will return to more normal worship practices as soon as it is safe to do so.
How will we register attendance?
For those who feel comfortable with in-person worship, we are asking you to bring your phone to church! No, we don’t want you texting or playing games, we want you to be able to register your attendance. With your phone, you will scan a QR code found at your pew, which will take you to a brief online form. We ask that you complete this registration form each time you attend in-person, as this helps with contact-tracing.
If you do not have a smartphone, please let a greeter know when you enter the narthex; they will write down your name, email and/or a cell number for contact tracing purposes. Below, please find detailed instructions for our new contactless registration process, utilizing QR codes. (The QR codes will be posted within the pews.)
- Please open the camera on your phone. You DO NOT have to take a picture of the QR code.
- Hover over the QR code. Once your phone has “captured” the code, a banner or icon will appear at the top of the screen.
- Please click on the banner/icon. You will be directed to a form to complete.
- If you are not redirected to a form, please attempt to rescan the code.
With Android phones:
- Open your Camera app and point it steadily for 2-3 seconds towards the QR code.
- Whenever scanning is enabled, a notification will appear.
- If nothing happens, you may have to go to your Settings app and enable QR Code scanning.
- If QR Codes isn’t an option in your settings, your device unfortunately can’t scan QR Codes natively. You will have to download a third-party QR Code reader app.
- Android users can read this article to discover the best way to scan QR codes on your specific android phone.
What about Nursery Care?
The nursery is not currently being offered, so all children will be seated with their caregivers in the service. It is very challenging to maintain social distancing and proper hygiene with young children.
What will be open at the church on Sundays?
We will close portions of our campus in an effort to keep rooms sanitary.
What about Restrooms?
The only available restrooms will be those in the narthex. We ask that you do not congregate in the Narthex before or after service.
What about Sunday School Classes and Small Groups?
Protocols for small group gatherings have significantly changed as of March 2021. If every member of your small group has been fully vaccinated, masks and social distancing are no longer required when in your meeting room. If members of a small group in which not all participants are fully vaccinated, and the group comes to a unanimous consensus, everyone in attendance feels comfortable removing their masks then you are free to do so. We ask that when walking to the bathroom or down the hall to enter or exit the building everyone wears a mask, for the safety of others who may be in the building.
Cleaning protocols for rooms are no longer required. We ask that you continue to be courteous by placing trash in the appropriate containers and leaving your meeting room in the same or better condition than when your group arrived.
Cleaning protocols for restrooms are no longer required. Baskets with gloves, wipes, and lysol will be available for anyone who would like to utilize them.
Our custodian will sanitize meeting spaces and restrooms as they are used throughout the week.
If your small group plans to meet on campus, please contact the church office so we can add it to the calendar. Knowing what spaces are being utilized is important for a number of reasons, including ensuring proper sanitation.
Updated March 15, 2021
These procedures will be evaluated regularly and adjusted based on the research and guidelines from health experts. We will return to more normal worship practices as soon as it is safe to do so. You can download these updated protocols as a PDF here.
What about Children & Youth?
Children’s ministry continues to focus on online engagement. Our Youth ministry is doing a hybrid approach with both in-person and online opportunities for spiritual growth and fellowship.
For those of you raising children at home, we invite you to join the Faith Friends Facebook Group. This group provides tools, ideas and helpful hints on how to share meaningful and faith-filled experiences with your family. Join us as we share resources for keeping the faith and making it through homeschooling and long days of isolation.
We have scheduled other Zoom gatherings for both Children & Families as well as Youth so our younger disciples can stay connected, too. Check our Church Calendar and your email for details.
How will the church office operate?
The church office is open for half days, 9 a.m. to noon, Monday – Thursday.
Some of our employees will continue to work from home, and we ask that you make an appointment before coming to the office. We do not want to put you or our staff at risk.
If you come for an appointment, you will be asked to wear a mask. We thank you for your consideration and cooperation.
- All visitors must remain at least 6 feet from staff persons and others while on campus
- All visitors must wear a face covering/mask when meeting with staff members and others while on campus
- Staff members will adhere to proper social-distancing and sanitation guidelines while working.
What about funerals & weddings?
All weddings and funerals will be held at the discretion of the pastor and in strict adherence of State Guidelines. Please contact the church office or a pastor for more information.
How do I participate in online worship?
Online worship at St. John’s is livestreamed Sunday mornings across our channels: Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube and our website. Many members regularly worship together on Facebook Live, connecting via the chat feature, and others have success watching on smart TVs using the YouTube app. As always, you can find our sermon videos on our website and Vimeo. Troubleshooting help is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about The Shepherd’s Market?
Due to very high demand from our neighbors, and at the request of the Baton Rouge Food Bank, The Shepherd’s Market will be operating on a limited basis on Tuesday and Thursday each week from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. unless it becomes apparent it is not safe to do so because of COVID-19 concerns. Distribution continues to be done by drive-thru method. Please contact Theresa Sandifer (text or call: 225-337-1306 or email: email@example.com) if you would like to volunteer.
Can I still contribute to St. John’s?
Yes please, and thank you! Please maintain your regular tithing and giving, and if you’re able, consider giving more to help offset those who can’t during these uncertain times. You can mail your contribution to St. John’s UMC (230 Renee Drive; Baton Rouge, LA 70810). Or contribute online with credit/debit cards or your bank account info by clicking here. Now would be a great time for you to set up recurring online giving. We also have a secure black box outside the church office where you can drop off donations at any time.
Where can I find updates?
We will be regularly communicating with you through our Facebook page, Inside St. John’s, which is sent on Tuesdays, and Friday newsletter emails, text blasts, and our website.
COVID-19 Crosses at St. John’s
As a prelude to Holy Week 2020, we placed a number of small wooden crosses on the front lawn of the church in memory of those who have died from COVID-19 in our state. For every life lost to this coronavirus, we placed a cross on the St. John’s lawn near Highland Road, along with a banner that says, “In Memory…Each cross represents one life lost to COVID-19 in Louisiana.”
The crosses serve as a prayerful, heartfelt witness to our community that our church family recognizes both the collective and individual grief and loss we are experiencing. Read more about the project and see additional pictures here.
Who do I contact if I have questions?
If you have general questions, you can call the church office (225-766-4594) and leave a voicemail. We will check it regularly, and the appropriate staff member will return your call.
If you have questions about communications, please contact Lynn Cooper. This includes: “I’m not receiving Inside St. John’s/the Friday newsletter but I would like to,” and more.
If you would like to set up a Zoom meeting for a church small group, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.
If you need help with finances, please contact LeAnn Davis.
If you need assistance with groceries or errands, please contact Pastor Deirdré. We have wonderful church members ready to help out those who do not feel up to leaving the house.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with more questions. You are not the only person with that question, and we will update this FAQ with new answers as we go.
Read Pastor Lane and the COVID-19 Task Force’s COVID-19 related messages here.