Return to Worship at Salem!

“I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” 

(Psalm 122:1)

During the COVID stay-at-home order, God’s people have longed to gather in the same space to spiritually feast on God’s Word and sacrament, and join our voices in praise to God our Savior. While online worship has been a blessing for continued spiritual nourishment, it does not and cannot replace the social aspect of worship as a community of believers gathered in place and time.

Recently, Gov. Walz has announced the relaxation of certain gathering restrictions for religious services, with certain guidelines in place. In light of this development, Salem's leadership has been meeting and communicating regularly to implement a careful, measured reopening plan for in-person worship services at Salem. These in-person gathering resumed on May 31, and we are pleased at the way things have gone thus far.

However, for the time being, the worship experience is somewhat different than it was before COVID. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that different people have varying levels of concern when it comes to pandemic precautions (social distancing, face coverings, etc.). As in-person worship activities resume, Christian love will lead us to respect opinions and comfort levels that may be different than our own. Throughout the process of reopening, Christian love and respect has been a guiding compass in the decisions that have and will continue to be made. As you make plans to worship at Salem, please carefully review the protocols below.

Worship Protocols during COVID-19

With input from healthcare professionals, leaders of the MN District of WELS, Salem leaders, as well as guidance provided by the MN Department of Health (MDH), the following gathering protocols are in place for worship gatherings at Salem during COVID:

  • Upon arrival, attendees are asked to limit mingling and proceed directly to seating, and follow social distancing in sanctuary seats and pews (unless they are members of the same household). Pews will be marked accordingly. Also, attendees are asked to practice social distancing (6 ft) in narthex and gathering areas.
  • Please utilize sanitizer and/or wash hands upon arrival. Sanitizer will be available upon entry and in other conspicuous locations.
  • Attendees are asked to wear face covering. If you don’t have your own, face coverings will be available upon arrival – both child and adult sizes. (While we recognize this is not ideal in a worship setting, we determined that this is an important aspect of resuming on-site worship, as face coverings are shown to protect others. This is especially the case in an environment where speaking and singing take place.) For those who wish not to wear face coverings (especially families with young children) the fellowship hall is available for additional seating. The service is displayed live on screen in the fellowship hall.
  • Gathering size will be limited to 50% of capacity to allow for social distancing.
  • Pews, chairs, doors, and other surfaces of common contact will be sanitized each week.
  • Offering plates will not be passed person-to-person, but positioned for attendees to drop off their offerings upon entry or exit.
  • Attendees are asked to greet one another without touching.
  • Attendees are asked to limit restroom occupancy to 2 people at a single time.
  • Lord’s Supper – Communion elements will be prepared using gloves and face protection. The distributing pastor and assistant will wear face protection when in close proximity to communicants. Communion distribution will be continuous flow. This will allow for distancing and minimize handling of the elements. Hand sanitizer will be available before and after reception of the elements.
  • Children’s activity bags and other common use items will be removed for the time being. Families with children are encouraged to bring their own “quiet toys” from home. The Youth Room (located in church office suite) will be available as a cry room as needed.
  • To minimize commonly touched surfaces, there will be no snacks or coffee served before, during, or after the service. Attendees are welcome to bring their own coffee. Post-service social activities will be kept to a minimum, except for official congregational business (meetings, etc.). Attendees may visit briefly after the service, especially outside, as long as social distancing can be maintained.
  • If you are sick, or know you have recently been exposed to COVID, please worship privately at home. Sermon videos will be posted on Salem’s website and YouTube channel.

Salem's pastor and Church Council continue to monitor these protocols and make adjustments as appropriate. While we cannot safeguard against every germ and sickness in this sin-fallen world, we seek to conduct our lives and ministry in love for others – both soul and body. We are thankful for the opportunity to gather in person, and look forward to seeing you at Salem!