Amherst Lutheran Church
5125 Main Street (just east of the I-290) Williamsville, NY 14221
Dear Siblings in Christ,
Your reimaging/reopening the building team from ALC and POP has been hard at work over these past couple of months attempting to create a coherent, compassionate worship and building usage policy. It is our hope that this policy embraces our call to be gathered together for worship, prayer, song, and meal as the body of Christ, while also holding onto our understanding that loving our neighbor means not unnecessarily putting them in situations that are unsafe; including the inherent risk that comes with gathering as a group during a pandemic.
Because of this theological and biblical commitment to how we understand community and God, we have chosen to read and make use of a variety of policies from the ELCA, the United Methodist Church, the CDC, NY State, and other science and health experts that reflect these same shared values. We have also watched with sadness as other churches across the country have chosen not to hold these same values and have decided to open too soon or without the necessary precautions in place, becoming hotspots for the Covid-19 virus to spread among members and to the larger community. And so, as a group, we are working hard to do everything in our power to not let similar things happen at ALC and POP.
As of right now our plan, given the present situation in NY, is to begin adding on to our current Sunday morning online worship schedule, which will remain in place at least through September. We will start by attempting parking lot worship services beginning on Monday, August 3rd at 6:30pm in the Prince of Peace parking lot (2311 George Urban Blvd., Depew) and continuing each Monday until August 31st. During this service, we ask that you and your household remain in your vehicle as much as you are able. If you should need to use the restroom during worship, please wear a mask to enter the building and keep it on until you reenter your vehicle. The details of the service itself are currently being planned.
Beginning on Saturday, September 12th, we will hold in-person worship at 5pm at Amherst Lutheran Church (5125 Main St., Williamsville) and it will continue each Saturday through September. This service will be geared towards those who are 65+, those who do not have access to online worship or limited access, and the immediate family members of these individuals. For the safety of these individuals, we ask that if you are able to worship online, that you continue to do so during this time, so that this service remains lower risk to those who are attending. At the end of September, we will re-evaluate how this service went, and begin to add additional services as appropriate.
When in-person worship service resumes, you can expect the following: you will be asked to wear a mask for the entire time you are in the building unless you are under 2 or have breathing problems (for example, you wear oxygen), a voluntary health assessment conducted upon entry (please do not attend worship if you are sick or have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 within the last 14 days), staggered entry and dismissal, 6ft physical distancing in the sanctuary, no singing, no moving around the sanctuary to greet one another, and no passing of the offering plate. Other details, including communion practices, are still being determined with the safety of all, including Pastor Rebecca, in mind.
A forum for all congregation members of both ALC and POP will be held on Sunday, July 19th at 11am via Zoom to answer any questions prior to this new schedule. Zoom can be accessed from any tablet, computer, or cell phone, but also from a landline as well. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to Tim Johnson, Janet Schmidt, Tina Terhaar, Bob Barzycki, Scott LaBounty, Sherry Cruz, or Pastor Rebecca with questions.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support and we look forward to reimagining how we might do in-person worship well for the sake of the gospel and one another.
Faithfully yours, Pastor Rebecca Mentzer Members of the Reimagining/Reopening Group
Meditation Monday - at 12 noon I will go live on Facebook to do a simple meditation with all of you. You can watch it live while it is happening or later when your schedule allows. This will also be shared on the YouTube channel.
The Arts Tuesday - each Tuesday I will post a picture, or a song, or a piece of art, or a poem, or a TED talk, etc. for you to interact with either on your own or with the group.
Word Wednesday - at 7:30pm jump onto Zoom for an interactive Bible study and conversation. The app can be downloaded to your phone or you can access it from your web-browser. You will need to create an account to use it.
Thankful Thursday - each Thursday I will start a thread where you are invited to post a pic or share an experience of where you have encountered God during the week, or something you are feeling grateful for. It will be particularly helpful for us to work harder during this time on keeping our eyes open for God in our midst.
Worship - each Sunday at 10am we will worship together. If you can't jump on the Facebook live while it is happening, watch it later, but stay connected with us and with God. This will also be shared on the YouTube channel. Pastor has found a new streaming service that is currently being used for worship. It allows her to put the text of the worship service on the screen so that you can participate easily with the liturgy from home, and it will allow others to participate in worship while it is happening as lectors, musicians, etc. All you need is access to a camera and microphone on your phone, computer, or tablet (no Facebook needed!). So let Pastor know if you are interested in participating in worship this way!
Staying Connected with family & friends electronically:
FaceTime: If you and the person you want to talk to both have an iPhone, FaceTime is a great option for video chatting. It is free with your cell phone plan.
Skype: Skype has been around for quite a while. You can access it from any device with a built in camera. You will need to create an account and download it to your device or access it from the browser. The person you are speaking with will also need to be using Skype.
Google hangout: Much like the others, you can access google hangout from any google account (for example if you have a google email account or you use google for something else) and would need a device that had a camera. Just click on the name of the person you wish to speak to, and give them a call.
WhatsApp: This messaging system is run by Facebook. It is free to use and download. It works much the way the other options work and allows you to send messages or do video or audio calling. It also works on either android or iPhones.
Finally, most nursing homes are setting up options to video chat with those who are staying there or can help your loved one download a video chatting system of your choice. Call them directly to see what they are doing and how you can stay connected.