Sanctuary Worship Guidelines

sanctuary worship

Zion’s policy is to follow the advice of the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC regarding re-entering indoor worship. They are the experts and have the best understanding of how to protect the public which includes our members and attenders.

Our summer worship schedule will include worship in the sanctuary at 9am, online worship at 10am, and drive-in worship at 10:30am. If you’re not yet comfortable being indoors or with a large group, we understand. The online and drive-in worship services will continue. Please choose the worship experience that works best for you and your family.

All Worship Service Options

RSVP Now for Sanctuary Worship

Sunday Morning Screening Survey

What to Expect

Worship in the sanctuary will include scripture, sermon, prayer and music, but it will look different for a while, and some details may change from week to week as we learn from our experience.

Worship will be a ‘no-contact’ experience.

  • Doors will be propped or held open for you.
  • Bulletins have been placed in pews several days in advance.
  • The offering plates will be placed at the back of the sanctuary and not passed during worship.
  • We will not have communion in worship at least for the first few weeks.

Those who are at higher risk for severe illness (age 65 and older, or with underlying medical conditions such as severe asthma, chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, immunocompromised) are strongly encouraged to stay home and not participate in any group gatherings involving people outside of their immediate household. We encourage you to participate in online worship during this time.

RSVP in Advance

Sign up as a family group. In order to maintain physical distancing, we will be seating by family groups, with one or two family groups in each pew, depending on family size and pew length. A family group is those who live together in the same residence. Please check in together to sit together.

RSVP Now for Sanctuary Worship

If you RSVP for worship and then decide not to attend for any reason, please let us know (office@zionbuffalo.org) so that your seats can be released to someone else.

When You Arrive

You will be asked to complete a screening survey before entering the building. The screening survey includes a final health check, a reminder of guidelines, and a choice of seating section preference. The screening survey will be available on Sunday morning (not before). Complete it at home or in the parking lot.

  • If you have had any COVID symptoms that you cannot attribute to another health condition, you must stay home, and should seek medical advice. These symptoms include fever (100.4F or higher) or feeling feverish, chills, a new cough, shortness of breath, a new sore throat, new muscle aches, a new headache, or new loss of smell or taste. Please worship online until you are well.
  • If you have returned from abroad or been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID in the last 14 days, please stay home and worship online until your quarantine period is complete.
  • All attendees are required to follow the directions of ushers/greeters/staff and to maintain at least 6 feet distance from those who do not live in the same household.
  • All attendees are strongly encouraged to wear non-medical face covering to help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Staff and volunteers are required to wear a face covering.

Sunday Morning Screening Survey

Worship begins at around 9am. Plan to arrive in the parking lot between 8:45am and 8:55am to give everyone a chance to check in.. The doors will not be open for check-in until all volunteers are in place. Worship may begin a few minutes past 9am if attendees are still being seated.

Park in the main (south) parking lot, and consider leaving an empty space between vehicles. With the limited capacity, there will be plenty of space in the parking lot.

Check in with a greeter under the canopy. They will check your name off the attendee list, verify your screening survey, and point you to the most efficient door and waiting line for your preferred seating section. If you have not completed the screening survey online, they will ask you the screening questions.

Greeters will ask you to put on your face covering and direct you to enter the lobby/narthex through one of two doors. If you prefer the ‘pulpit side’ of the sanctuary, use the left door; if you prefer the ‘music side’ of the sanctuary, use the right door.

All attendees are encouraged to wash or sanitize your hands when you enter the building (and again when you leave the building).

Inside the lobby/narthex, please follow directions of the greeters/ushers and the markings on the floor and maintain 6 feet difference between your household and other households.

Ushers will escort one household at a time to their preferred seating section (as space allows) in the sanctuary. Please cooperate with our greeters as they seat family groups beginning at the front of the sanctuary, even you don’t end up in your ‘usual’ pew or preferred section.

Only members of the same household can sit together, and should maintain a distance of at least six feet from other households or individuals. Please plan to remain in your assigned pew.

If you need to leave the sanctuary during worship, please do so. The main restrooms near Trinity Hall and the single restroom near the office are open. Other restrooms and much of the building is currently closed. We ask that you continue to maintain 6 foot physical distancing from other families if you are in the lobby/narthex with small children.

At the end of the worship service, please wait until an usher dismisses you from the sanctuary and then leave the building promptly, using the door indicated by the ushers/greeters.

As you leave worship, please maintain physical distancing and keep your face covering in place.

Pastor Ted and congregational president Dirk Foster met with Dr. Halvorson and Dr. Burgdorf to answer some questions about guidelines for returning to in-sanctuary worship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What About Communion?

We are not having in-person communion at this point. We do share communion in our online service on the first Sunday of the month and ask people to prepare the elements the bread and the wine at home, but we have not found a good way to limit contact between people as the elements are passed, and so we are not reinstituting communion at sanctuary or outdoor/drive-in worship services at this time. We’ll continue to look for ways we can do that in the future.

We also have the Words of Institution available by phone for those without internet access who’d like to share communion at home. Call 763-682-1245 ext. 103.

What About My Kids?

We don’t have ‘rainbow bags’ or toys available at the moment, so please bring whatever items your child might need during worship.

All worship services include a children’s message, but we won’t be inviting the children to come forward together. Plan to keep your children in your pew for the children’s message.

We’ve removed the upholstered furniture from the narthex for now, but there is a comfy chair available in the coffee cafe area (across from the main restrooms) for nursing mothers.

What Questions are on the Screening Survey?

When you RSVP and again when you arrive on Sunday, we’re going to ask you three questions:

  • Have you experienced possible COVID symptoms in the last 14 days? These include fever, chills, a new cough, difficulty breathing, a new sore throat, nw muscle aches, a new headache, or new loss of smell or taste.
  • Have you or a close contact returned from abroad in the last 14 days?
  • Have you had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 daysw or currently waiting for test results?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’ll need to stay home, and we invite you to worship online.

We’ll also remind you of risk factors as well as guidelines like physical distancing and wearing a face covering.

On Sunday morning there will be an extra question about your preferred seating section.

How Do These Guidelines Relate to Our Faith?

Oftentimes at church, we talk about our faith as both a vertical and horizontal relationship. The vertical relationship is our relationship with God, and the horizontal is our relationship with each other, with our neighbors. And our faith is very much about our relationship with God. But as Jesus said, it’s just as much about our relationship with each other. So our desire to follow these guidelines are for the sake of our neighbor, for the sake of people we care for, looking out for their good. We all have choices to make but each one of us wants to do our best to keep other people safe and healthy, and so that’s why we’re following the guidelines.

What About Marysville?

Marysville is our beautiful historic country church is located among farmland between Buffalo and Waverly. We would typically hold Monday evening worship services at Marysville throughout June, July, and August. It is a very small church, and just doesn’t have the space to provide for physical distancing, so we won’t be having worship services at Marysville at this time.

Where Can I Find Zion’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Preparedness Plan (PDF)

I Still Have Questions

Please speak to a staff member, council member, email office@zionbuffalo.org, or call the church office at 763-682-1245 with further questions.

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