July 5, 2020 Update
Your COL Covid Planning Team continues to monitor the infection rates in our community which unfortunately continue to rise. We will re-gather for onsite worship when it is prudent to do so and the congregation will be given 2-weeks notice prior to the first service. And please be assured, that online worship will continue to be offered in conjunction with onsite worship for those who do not wish to attend in person. Please contact either Pastor Terri if you have questions or comments.
June 24, 2020 Update
June 23, 2020
Dear Cross of Life Faith Family,
After conferring with Dr. Andy, our health care professional consultant, the church COVID Planning Team,has decided to cancel our onsite worship for June 28th and July 5th. The decision was based upon an abundance of caution to reduce the potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus when Dr. Andy provided the following information:
“Two weeks ago, the coronavirus data in Georgia and the Atlanta area seemed optimistic. However, as more data has been gathered it has become clear Georgia and our area are in the midst of a significant increase in coronavirus cases and there is more disease activity in the community than in April and May. It should be noted these data reflect real cases and are not due solely to increased testing, based on patterns within the testing data. Also, the groups now testing positive are 20-40 year olds who, while not as likely to become seriously ill or die of disease themselves, represent an increasing potential source of infection to those in high risk patient categories.”
The team has also decided to keep the previously announced time change for online worship, which moves to 11:00 a.m. beginning this Sunday, June 28, even though we have postponed the onsite worship service.
As additional data updates are provided, the team will continue to evaluate the information and consult with our health care professionals to determine the most feasible date to provide worship services onsite.
We will continue to navigate the challenges facing our church, the nation, and our community trusting that God will guide us and offer opportunities to be the church in these unprecedented times.
Thank you for your support and continued understanding.
COVID-19 Planning Team
June 13, 2020 Update
On June 28th, we will offer both on-site worship at 9:30 and online worship at 11:00.
Members who are over the age of 65 or in at-risk categories are strongly encouraged to worship online. Additionally, if you have been sick or show signs of illness, please worship online for a period of at least 10 days.
In order to decrease the risk of exposure to Covid 19, the number of worshipers will be limited and reservations will be needed (see details below.) Onsite attendees will also be expected to observe the following procedures.
- Onsite attendees will be required to bring and wear masks, to observe physical distancing by arriving, sitting and departing in zones, and to refrain from personal contact with other members or the church staff (always keeping 6 feet from anyone outside your family group). Hand sanitizer will be available on each pew and you are encouraged to use it upon entering and exiting the pew. There will be no Welcome Center and members are encouraged not to linger after worship.
- To fairly distribute our limited seating, onsite attendees will rotate by the alphabet. On the Sunday prior to your assigned worship service, you will receive an email with a link to Eventbrite.com. Please reserve your space through Eventbrite.com by Wednesday at 12:00 noon to select one of the 26 seating zones in the sanctuary. If, at that time, we have seats remaining, we will move to the next families in the alphabet. If you are out of town or are unable to worship on your assigned week, you may contact the host via Eventbrite to have your name added to the next week’s list.
- You will reserve your seat by choosing a zone which matches the number of members in your family. If you are a couple, for example, please choose a zone designated for 2 (like zone F), rather than a zone for 6 (like zone A). If, however, all zones for your family size have been filled, you may reserve a larger zone.
- Because singing indoors presents a higher risk of infection, our Gathering and Sending Hymns will be sung outside with attendees standing in zones (which match your seating zone.) So when you arrive for worship, please go to your identified zone in the courtyard, careful to observe physical distancing from others. Please either bring a printed bulletin from home or be prepared to access the words to the hymn on your phone or tablet. If you do not wish to sing, you may go directly to the sanctuary to sit in your designated zone before the singing begins. If this is your preference, please choose a zone on the center aisle, so those sharing your pew will not have to step over you to get to their seats.
- After the Gathering Hymn, move into the sanctuary with 6 feet between you and the person in front of you, filling from front to back and sitting in your designated seating zone. Zones A – L (on the left) will enter in the center sanctuary doors and enter their seats by the side aisle. Zones M-Z (on the right) will enter through the Adult Center doors, and then use the right rear door and enter their seats by the side aisle.
- You may place your offering in the offering plate as you enter the sanctuary.
- Please stay in your seating zone and keep your mask on throughout the worship service.
- When we celebrate Holy Communion, please bring your own bread and wine/grape juice which will be distributed in the pew within your family unit.
- Other than the sanctuary, the rest of the building will remain closed. The nursery will be closed and bathrooms will be available upon request.
- While the facilities will be professionally cleaned each week, please take any printed material or communion packaging with you when you leave.
May 22, 2020 Update
Your Covid Planning Team continues to meet weekly through Zoom meetings. Our primary focus is to ensure that we are doing everything we can to protect the safety and well being of our members and guests by developing a plan that identifies the risks and includes a mitigation strategy to address those risks. We have taken advantage of online webinars presented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other organizations offering information on how to understand Covid 19 and the disease’s infectious nature. The Team is developing a re-gathering plan using guidance from ELCA, Center for Disease Control, Georgia Public Health Department, and the Georgia Governors Office.
The preliminary plan was presented to the Church Council at its meeting Monday May 18th and was approved. We are using a phased approach in our planning that currently places us in a Safer at Home status, and using on-line resource capability to present worship services, Sunday School, Bible Study, Book Club, and our recently launched Care Group ministries. As official public health agencies monitor and report the status of the spread of the disease we continue to plan the operational steps necessary to open our doors and begin to re-gather.
We are also researching methods on how to properly deep clean the building using the recommended CDC guidelines but also evaluating the purchase of a device that emits a disinfect and sanitizer to ensure we are performing the practical steps to make our house of worship safe for everyone including our members who are in the at risk category. We are also reaching out to our subject matter experts in our membership and beginning to seek assistance from our Council Teams to help us accomplish the many tasks that will require completion and sustainability to ensure the safety of all who enter our building.
As we continue to navigate the impact of this disease, we want to let the congregation know that our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of everyone. We ask for your continued prayers for guidance as we move forward in this process.
COL Covid Planning Team
May 15, 2020 Update
Dear Cross of Life Family and Friends,
The Lord be with you! The COVID-19 Planning Team continues to meet weekly and this letter serves as an update of what we’ve discussed and what are plans are moving forward.
We are continuing work to complete a phased in re-gathering of in person worship and other activities we all have grown to love and enjoy at church and believe God is calling us to be the light that shines in the darkness. Currently we are still in the initial gating criteria based upon guidance from public health and government officials. This phase, and all phases moving forward, is designed to ensure we remain focused on the health and safety of all our members and friends. We believe we have not met the following criteria in our local, Fulton County, area to move into Phase 1 and will continue to monitor the progress of meeting the criteria outlined by the White House COVID 19 Task Force and the Georgia Department of Public Health.
- 14 days of downward trajectory of positive confirmed COVID-19 cases in our area (Fulton County). (Not there yet)
- Readily available testing (yes)
- Contact tracing (not yet there)
However, once the gating criteria are met we will move into Phase I, but in that phase in person worship is not included. According to the Georgia Department of Health recommendations we are asked to avoid mass gatherings and maintain social distancing of 6 ft. from others. Additionally, we need to develop a cleaning and sanitizing plan that includes purchasing effective cleaning supplies and properly training people in sanitizing for the COVID-19 virus. The safety of our congregation, staff, and guests is our top priority.
Even though we would love to worship together as a group, it is not safe to do so right now. During this time, instead of focusing on what we can’t do, let’s focus on what we can do. We can engage in the care groups that are being formed and get involved in other groups like the book club, Sunday school, and Bible study. If you are interested in serving others, we are developing a list of volunteer opportunities to help Cross of Life, the community, and our world.
The COVID-19 Planning Team will continue to stay informed through reputable webinars, resources, articles, and we’ll share the restart plan with you when it is completed. Take care of yourselves, stay well, and please continue to pray for the world.
Members of the COVID 19 Planning Team
A Letter from our Senior Pastor and Council President
Dear Cross of Life Members and Friends,
In addition to sharing the bulletin and prayer requests for this Sunday, we wanted to share with you updates regarding our mutual ministry as a congregation. As you have seen on the news, Governor Kemp has opened the way for various businesses to reopen and for portions of our population to no longer be under shelter-at-home restrictions. However, high-risk individuals, including all those over 65, are expected to remain in their homes until mid-June. The CDC also continues to encourage all people to wear a mask and respect social distancing standards any time they are out of their homes.
So what does this mean for Cross of Life? A Covid Planning Team, made up of the Executive Team and church staff, has convened to make plans about which aspects of our congregational life can be resumed “in person” and which are most safely conducted through digital means. While understanding that decisions need to take place on a local level, we are consulting multiple resources including FEMA webinars, guidance from the CDC and church-specific recommendations from our synod, the ELCA and a guide produced by the Wisconsin Council of Churches. While we do not have firm plans or dates to share, we would like to share with you some of the assumptions under which we are operating.
Worship and member safety will continue to be a priority. While we experience our worship in a different way now, it is real worship, not “virtual.” We anticipate that in the near future, some aspects of our worship may be in person, but the majority will remain online for the time being. Worship in a digital format allows all of our members to be a part of our worshiping community and protects those among us who are most vulnerable to this virus (including both of our pastors who are in high risk categories). Additionally, resources from our synod and ELCA stress that congregational singing presents a particularly high risk of spreading the virus through the air, even while wearing masks. Since singing is such a central part of our worship experience, we believe online worship best preserves our liturgical practices at this time.
We anticipate that the reopening of the church building, activities and ministries will happen in phases, and that those phases may not be linear. For example, as infection rates decrease, we may be able to begin parking lot youth meetings or lawn chair book club – but such events may need to be rescinded for a time if infection rates rise again. In other words, this is a moving target and your health is important to us. We are also tremendously cognizant of the fact that when building usage increases, significant and ongoing disinfecting of surfaces will be required. Until we can assure such cleaning can be done consistently, it would be unwise to reopen our facilities.
Finally, while our doors are closed, our community remains open! Efforts are underway to develop care groups which will provide like-demographic groups of members/families with support, resource sharing and edification. We continue to provide pastoral care through phone calls and emails, our Parish Care and Prayer Teams continue to lift up and reach out to those who are sick. Sunday school for both children and adults continues via Zoom and small groups such as the Men’s Bible Study and the Book Club continue to meet digitally. Additionally, digital worship allows us to reach far more people than those who came through our doors on a Sunday morning. Based on Facebook records, one week our worship was viewed by over 1,000 people. God is moving through this emerging ministry – and we are thankful to be a part of it.
So with great love for God and for God’s people, we will continue to assess our next steps, informed by our faith, relevant data, medical personnel and governing authorities. Please actively engage in prayer each day for those impacted by this disease and those fervently seeking medical treatment of it. And should you need help or assistance, please do not hesitate to call.
In God’s service,
Pastor Terri and Rocky Moore, Council President