St. John’s Lutheran Church – Stewartville, Minnesota
Precautionary Measures to be Followed during the Coronavirus Pandemic
May 28, 2020 – Updated July 22, 2020

  1. Corporate worship services are held on Thursdays at 6:30pm and Sundays at 8 and 10:30am.
  1. Attendance at each of the three weekend services is limited to about 65-70 persons so that we may maintain proper social distancing.
  1. Members and friends are required to register for the worship service they wish to attend. They need to do this each weekend either by calling the church office at 507-533-4420 or using the online app, Sign-up Genius.  When the maximum number of people allowed at each service is reached, that service is closed to any more worshipers.
  1. Persons who are at higher risk for severe illness are strongly encouraged to stay home.
  1. Persons who have had recent close contact with an infected person must stay home.
  1. Before coming to worship each person should conduct a self-check and stay home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  1. NEW! Per state requirements, all worshipers must wear a face covering or mask.  Exceptions are made for those who have medical or mental health conditions or physical disabilities that make it difficult to wear a mask.
  1. Social distancing of at least six feet is required between people who do not live in the same household. (Members of the same house may sit together in the same pew.)
  1. Worshipers should have no physical contact with others not in their household; this includes shaking hands, fist bumps, hugs, etc.
  1. To maintain social distancing two of every three pews are marked as unavailable for seating and chairs on the sides of the sanctuary are adequately spaced. No one is to sit in “closed” pews.  The elder of the service assists in identifying available spots for individuals and households.
  1. Upon arriving at church, worshipers should not congregate in the fellowship hall, but should move directly to the pew/chair they will occupy during the service.
  1. Hymnals, Bibles and Friendship Registers have been removed from the pews and chairs. Printed orders of worship are not available.  Instead, we use only the projection screen and TV monitors for the order of worship.
  1. No offering plates are passed during the service. Instead worshipers may place their offering in the designated basket as they enter or leave the sanctuary.
  1. Children are to stay with their parents as much as possible while in the building. They should not be moving around on their own. They should also stay with their parents for the children’s message.
  1. The infant care room is available for parents who need to use it. However, all toys and books have been removed.  The children’s activity bags have also been put away.  Parents must bring their own items they feel are necessary for their little children.
  1. Since singing more forcefully expels respiratory droplets than does speaking, congregational singing is limited, if done at all. Vocalists sing from the balcony.
  1. Holy Communion is distributed in continuous line fashion. Communicants come forward at the direction of the elder, maintaining a six-foot distance, guided by tape on the floor.  Each communicant extends his/her hand to receive the bread.  After eating the bread, the person moves to receive the individual cup by extending his/her hand to have the cup placed in the hand.  (We are not using the Common Cup at this time.)  After drinking, the communicant deposits the empty cup in the designated container and returns to his or her seat.  If children come forward, the pastor speaks a blessing but does not touch the child.
  1. At the end of the service, worshipers are dismissed in an orderly fashion so to maintain six-foot distancing. The elder dismisses households and individuals starting at the back of the church, proceeding to the front and then to the sides.  When dismissed people should move to leave the building, and not use the narthex for visiting.
  1. The pastors wear masks before and after the service, but they do not do so during the service when they are leading worship. However, they wear masks and use hand sanitizer when celebrating Holy Communion.
  1. Sanitation teams ensure that frequently touched surfaces are cleaned appropriately before/after each worship service.
  1. Hand sanitizer, masks and tissues are available.
  1. The front doors and the east door by the church offices are propped open, if possible, as worshipers arrive and leave the church. All restrooms will be open, but no more than two persons should be in the narthex restrooms at any one time.
  1. Small groups of members may meet from time to time. Social distancing is still required in whatever space is used and appropriate sanitation needs to completed after the meeting.
  1. We record the Thursday evening service and post it on our website on Friday. Members who wish to stay home can still participate in worship by watching the service online.
  1. Members who cannot agree to these measures and will not practice them are asked to stay home and wait for the time when these precautions are eased.

From the Minnesota Department of Health:

Underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age:

  • Blood disorders(e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners).
  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis.
  • Chronic liver diseaseas defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression)(e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS).
  • Current or recent pregnancyin the last two weeks.
  • Endocrine disorders(e.g., diabetes mellitus).
  • Metabolic disorders(such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders).
  • Heart disease(such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease).
  • Lung diseaseincluding asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen.
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions[including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].