May 19, 2021
“…Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…”
--- Psalm 100:4
Dear Members and Friends of Atonement,
Last week we saw the COVID positivity rate for Pasco County fall below 6%. This was the number we had set as a benchmark to begin looking at reopening our sanctuary for worship. We then had news of the CDC changing their guidelines for mask-wearing at indoor gatherings for the vaccinated. Taking these two major milestones into account, our church council decided that we will return to worship inside the sanctuary on May 30.
Now that almost half of Pasco county residents have been vaccinated, we feel our present situation is safe enough to allow indoor worship to return. On the recommendation of our COVID task force, we will no longer focus on Pasco’s positivity rate as our primary criterion for holding services indoors. We may continue to offer indoor worship even if the positivity rate goes up again. Still, we will be monitoring local factors to assess the ongoing level of risk. If we see signs of an outbreak within our congregation, we may return to outdoor worship on a temporary basis.
During this transitional period certain precautions will remain in place. The CDC still recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks and social distance at indoor gatherings. We will continue providing hand sanitizer and having masks on hand for those who request them. We will be minimizing close contact in the worship space, continuing with our “contact-free” methods for passing the peace and distributing Holy Communion. Special fans will be in operation inside the church to help with air flow and filtration. Our “Clean Team” will be on hand to sanitize the worship space following the service.
Separate areas in the sanctuary will be designated for social distancing (with masks) and not social distancing (with or without masks). It is up to each individual’s choice which section they prefer to sit in. We will be taking a phone survey on Friday, May 21 to find out how many people prefer each kind of seating. Your response to the survey will help us arrange the seats accordingly.
As we accommodate those who wish to continue social distancing, we may find the need to return to an RSVP system. If so, you will be able to make a reservation either by signing up on the website (under the RSVP tab) or by calling the office between 10am and 3pm by Thursday each week. If we run out of indoor seating, people can still be in their cars and watch the live stream or listen on the radio. The live stream will continue to be offered for 10am services. You can watch it on our website (www.discoveralc.com) as well as through Facebook and Youtube.
It is a tremendous blessing to be sharing this news with you. Many of you have expressed how difficult this last year has been without being able to worship in our sanctuary. Our “stream-team” and ushers put in hours of extra work each week when we have worship outdoors. When the Lord led the Israelites through the wilderness, He constantly showed them signs of His presence with them. Your patience and encouragement has been a sign of God’s presence with us through this pandemic.
We have longed to be together, longed to see you face-to-face, longed to gather under one roof in praise of God. As it says in Psalm 84:10, “Better is one day in Your house, O Lord, than a thousand elsewhere.” This is a huge step in our ongoing work of “re-opening” our facility to regular use. We are grateful for this moment, and look forward to seeing you soon!
Peace and health,
Pastor Scott Lindner Council President Salli Stupp-Conover