Tuesday September 22, 2020

We’ve created this video to help show you what to expect when you arrive to worship on Sundays. In-person worship will resume on Sunday October 4 at 10 a.m. in the Family Life Center. Livestreaming will continue.

Tuesday September 8, 2020

“Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy.”
– Psalm 98:8

Dear St. John’s family,

It is with great joy that I invite you to join us for in-person worship, which will resume at 10 a.m. on Sunday, October 4, 2020, in the Family Life Center. It has been 26 Sundays since COVID-19, a global pandemic, halted in-person worship, and it seems fitting that we will resume in-person worship on World Communion Sunday, a day in which Christians around the global celebrate the sacrament. In that same spirit, we will celebrate Holy Communion in a contact-free and safe way during worship on October 4, and will also offer Drive-Thru Communion from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. following worship that morning. It will be a day in which we are, as the Psalmist writes, “together for joy!”

You can read more about our health and safety protocols and what to expect should you attend in-worship in the Frequently Asked Questions below. We understand that some will not be ready to return to worship physically, so please know we will continue to offer a livestream of our worship services online. Whether you are worshiping in-person or online, we will be together in spirit.

The challenges and changes brought about during the pandemic have been, like most of life, full of, sacrifice, difficulties, and sorrow, as well as grace, love, and joy. We quickly learned that the church is not, nor will ever be, the building. WE are the church! And what a bountiful blessing the St. John’s family has been, is, and will continue to be for generations upon generations.

During this season of being physically distanced we have discovered many ways to stay spiritually connected. Our staff along with many volunteers have continued to feed people spiritually and physically through online discipleship opportunities, phone calls and cards, Zoom Sunday School classes, the upcoming Cure for Sorrow online retreat, and through the Shepherd’s Market food pantry. What a blessing it has been to be able to serve our neighbors during this time!

I hope you realize how much we miss you. We have not ceased to give thanks for you and to remember you in our prayers. Continue to take care of yourself, my friends, I look forward to seeing you online or in-person soon – and until then, let us be together for joy.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Lane
pastorlane@stjohnsbr.org

Frequently Asked Questions

When will we worship together again?

We will resume in-person worship on Sunday, October 4, 2020. We will continue to offer a livestream of our worship service online for those who feel unsafe attending in-person. Worship will happen on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. in the Family Life Center.

Why? Other churches are already worshipping in person.

We heavily considered returning to in-person worship sooner but ultimately decided against it after evaluating the potential risks. Choosing to worship while in Phase 1 excluded a significant portion of our congregation and even in Phase 2, there are a number of limitations and challenges for gathering together. Though it is safe for some, it is not for those who have underlying health conditions and who are 65+. In the spirit of unity, love, and hospitality, we have chosen to wait.

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. 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.

What specific safety measures will be taken to protect everyone?

  • Photos of the gathered congregation will be taken to assist with contact tracing if needed.
  • Everyone must wear a mask. Masks will be provided for those without.
  • We will minimize close contact by maintaining a safe distance of 6 feet.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in multiple locations.
  • There will be no physical contact during the service.
  • No bulletins, hymnals, or Bibles will be provided.
  • Ushers will assist with seating groups.
  • People who ride to church together will sit together.
  • The nursery will be closed for the foreseeable future.
  • OUR ENTRANCE WILL OPEN AT 9:45. 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, after the Benediction and Postlude 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.

Will you offer more service times to accommodate more people?

We will initially offer one service at 10:00 in the Family Life Center and will continue offering a livestream of our worship online. This will be reassessed periodically.

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, be invited to reflect during solos and instrumental music.

However, worship will feel and look differently than before.

  • Chairs will be arranged in accordance with family size and social distancing requirements.
  • Worship will be abbreviated.
  • We will be unable to have congregational or choral singing. We will adhere to social distancing and ask for your cooperation in observing safe distancing.
  • 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, pew Bibles.
  • Ushers, wearing masks, will direct congregants at the appropriate times. During the Offering, ushers will walk through the congregation holding an offering plate. If you desire to make a financial donation with cash or check, you may safely do so as the plate passes you, without making contact with the offering plate or an usher.

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.

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. The sanctuary, restrooms, education building, and choir room will be closed. The Family Life Center will be open.

What about Restrooms?

The only available restrooms will be those in the Family Life Center and these will be open for emergencies only.  We ask that you do not congregate in the hallway.

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

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

Rhonda Tucker (Lay Leader), Bonnie Byland, Pat Cobb, Donnie Lambert, Rev. 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.