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Resuming Indoor In-person Worship

As COVID-19 numbers have improved and vaccinations have become more widely available, we happily anticipate returning to in-person services beginning May 30: a 9 AM Connection contemporary service in Bradley Hall and an 11 AM traditional service in the sanctuary. Both services will also be live-streamed each week. 

Quick Overview

  • Wear masks, wash hands, practice social distancing.
  • Attendance will initially be capped at 50; sign up online or by phone beginning May 19.
  • Ushers will seat and dismiss congregants; all are asked to talk and visit with one another outdoors.
  • Worship modifications include how we pass the peace, collect offerings, and worship through music without congregational singing.

Safety protocols

While vaccinations make gatherings much safer, there is still some risk and we are taking measures to ensure the safety of our whole worshipping community. Out of love and respect for those attending services, all will be asked to wear a mask while indoors and wash or sanitize their hands upon entering the church. Ushers will guide people in sitting at appropriate social distances and will also dismiss the congregation as worship concludes. We know that everyone will want chances to talk and visit with one another before and after services; we ask that those conversations take place outside.

 How many people will be present?

At least at the beginning, the in-person congregation will be restricted to 50 people and will require signing up in advance. Worship registration will be done through a Sign-up Genius in the e-news and website or by calling the church office weekday mornings beginning May 19. These sign-ups will greatly assist with set-up and planning for Sunday mornings as we adjust to new circumstances.

The governor’s guidelines have changed. Can’t we increase the number?

Our COVID Task Force meets regularly to revise congregational guidelines as recommendations from the CDC and local officials are changing frequently. We anticipate adjusting these numbers within the first few weeks after we return, and other restrictions will lessen as we move through the summer. Resuming indoor worship and implementing appropriate guidelines is a considerable task for Highland’s lay leaders and staff. The initial 50-person restriction was intentionally set low to help those assisting with worship services to learn new roles and best practices.

What will worship be like?

The central elements of worship will be very familiar, but several aspects will be different from our pre-pandemic life together. We will refrain from shaking hands and hugging, as typically practiced during the passing of the peace or when greeting people before and after worship. Instead of passing offering plates or baskets, there will be receptacles to receive offerings near entryways as you enter or exit worship. Given improvements in our air circulation systems and additional precautions being taken, vaccinated worship leaders may remove their masks while speaking to lead worship. Following health expert’s current advice, there will be no congregational singing at this time. We know – this is the hardest one! The organ will swell in the sanctuary and the Connection band will be leading from the stage. Soloists and small groups of performers will lead music, but we ask the congregation to hum, read the lyrics, or otherwise sing within your hearts. Rest assured that we will reintroduce congregational singing as soon as we are able to do so safely. 

Will there be nursery care?

We are not offering Sunday morning nursery care at this time. As always, children of all ages are welcome in worship with their families.