Liturgical Considerations

Liturgical Considerations

PRELUDE

All music should be provided by organ or piano.  In addition, stringed and percussion instruments  may be used.  No wind instruments should be part of the service. 

WELCOME / OPENING WORDS / ANNOUNCEMENTS

Only the pastor / preacher should speak from the pulpit.  Another individual, serving as worship leader, may speak from the lectern but only that one person should speak from there during the service.  If there are multiple services, the lectern should be sanitized between services.  If a different preacher is to preach in subsequent services, the pulpit should be sanitized between services.  Cloth paraments should be removed to allow ease of cleaning between uses.

Pastor/preacher and worship leader should wear masks only to be removed while speaking from the pulpit or lectern. 

All announcements from congregants should be provided during the week prior to worship such that only the pastor or worship leader will speak them during the service. 

CALL TO WORSHIP

The call may be either read by one speaker or may include responsive reading.  The one voice may the Pastor / Preacher / Worship Leader or may be a participant in the sanctuary, who stands in place in the pew and projects loud enough to be heard throughout the sanctuary.  No handheld microphone should be provided.  The speaker should be wearing a mask.

PRAYER OF INVOCATION /  CONFESSION

This prayer may be either spoken only by the Pastor /  Worship Leader.  No unison speaking aloud should be done however, following along silently should be encouraged. 

OPENING HYMN

All hymns should be sung by only one person who stands at the front of the sanctuary.  This option is not optimal.  An option with less risk would be to prerecord the singing remotely and play the recording during worship.    To encourage meditating on the text of the hymn and to discourage singing by the  congregation, only the text should be printed in the bulletin.  The bulletin should also be clear about the congregation not singing and why.  Example:

  • Only the soloist(s) will be singing the hymn.  You are invited to follow along with the words printed in the bulletin,  enabling your participation in the musical element of worship and providing you with a connection to God through the meaningful words of the hymnist.

SCRIPTURE READING

Scripture should be read by either the Pastor / Preacher from the pulpit or the Worship Leader from the lectern.  Since pew bibles should have been removed from the sanctuary, the words of the bible text(s) should be printed in the bulletin. 

SERMON / REFLECTION / MEDITATION

The Pastor / Preacher may deliver the sermon from the pulpit.  The more casual style of walking in the aisles among the pews should be avoided. 

SERMON HYMN

All hymns should be sung by only one person who stands at the front of the sanctuary.  This option is not optimal.  An option with less risk would be to prerecord the singing remotely and play the recording during worship.    To encourage meditating on the text of the hymn and to discourage singing by the  congregation, only the text should be printed in the bulletin.  The bulletin should also be clear about the congregation not singing and why.  Example:

  • Only the soloist(s) will be singing the hymn.  You are invited to follow along with the words printed in the bulletin,  enabling your participation in the musical element of worship and providing you with a connection to God through the meaningful words of the hymnist.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE / PASTORAL PRAYERS / LORD’S PRAYER

The prayers should be offered by the Pastor / Preacher  from the pulpit or by the Worship Leader from the lectern.  Prayer request may be taken orally, with congregants standing and speaking in place in the pews.  Written prayer requests should not be taken to avoid having the Pastor /Preacher / Worship Leader handling cards that have touched multiple hands. Soliciting prayer requests via email prior to worship or via text during worship is an option with less risk. 

The Lord’s Prayer should be spoken by the  Pastor or Worship Leader.  If the congregation is invited to pray along, it should be silently focusing within or if actually spoken, only in whispers. 

OFFERING

Offering plates / baskets may be provided at the sanctuary entrance / exit to be filled as people enter for worship or exit after worship.  In addition, baskets may be available in each row for congregants to put their offerings in during worship.  An invitation to offering may be voiced by the Pastor / Preacher / Worship Leader, with instruction about where and how offering will be taken.  Best practice would be to arrange to take offering via text message, allowing both in person participants and participants who are watching via live stream to contribute.  See: www.givingfuel.com/text-to-give/

PRAYER OF DEDICATION

The prayer of dedication  should be offered by the Pastor / Preacher from the pulpit or by the Worship Leader from the lectern. 

SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

Continue to suspend the Sacrament of Communion during in person worship until a vaccine is widely available.  Options for Communion in the meantime:

  • Continue to practice an online version  of Communion, to be held at another time when the congregation may gather virtually.
     
  • Communion in the sanctuary: Communion liturgy is spoken by the Pastor from the pulpit.  Pastor may have a loaf and cup which will not be distributed.  Speak the Communion liturgy – words of institution, prayer of consecration, breaking the bread and pouring the cup followed by a guided meditation, that has the congregation imagine taking the elements. It might sound like this: 

    Close your eyes.  Imagine that you are with Jesus and his disciples on the night he was betrayed.  See him take the bread and bless it. Listen to his words as he asks you to do this to remember him. Take the bread that Jesus is offering and feed upon it in your heart.  Watch Jesus pour the cup.  Listen to his words once again as he offers you this cup. Taste and see the new life in Christ that this cup brings. 

CLOSING HYMN

All hymns should be sung by only one person who stands at the front of the sanctuary.  This option is not optimal.  An option with less risk would be to prerecord the singing remotely and play the recording during worship.    To encourage meditating on the text of the hymn and to discourage singing by the  congregation, only the text should be printed in the bulletin.  The bulletin should also be clear about the congregation not singing and why.  Example:

  • Only the soloist(s) will be singing the hymn.  You are invited to follow along with the words printed in the bulletin,  enabling your participation in the musical element of worship and providing you with a connection to God through the meaningful words of the hymnist.

BENEDICTION

The benediction  should be offered by the Pastor / Preacher from the pulpit or by the Worship Leader from the lectern.  If the congregation is used to saying the benediction together, as written in the bulletin, this practice can continue.  If the congregation’s practice is to sing a benediction, only the single singer should sing.  An option with less risk would be to have the sung benediction that the congregation is used to singing, prerecorded and played at the end of worship. 

AFTER WORSHIP

Except for the few people who will be tasked with sanitizing the sanctuary, all congregants should return home immediately after worship, keeping the 6 foot distancing between household groups. 

Have a large lined trash barrel available at the back of the sanctuary and advise congregants to throw away their used masks and bulletins. Once all services are complete, dispose of the trash bag immediately in the church’s dumpster.  Do not leave it several days for the sexton to take out. 

The people who are tasked with sanitizing the sanctuary should all be wearing face masks and gloves and should dispose of them immediately after completing the work. If the sanctuary is used for multiple services, make sure that the people tasked with sanitizing use a new mask and gloves for each cleansing.

If you are holding more than one service, have your people tasked with sanitizing the sanctuary to wipe down with disinfectant disposable wipes or with spray and paper towel,  the backs of pews where congregants sat, both those in front of them and the one they were sitting in.  Wipe down the hymnal racks, which should be empty of books, since you have already removed them from the sanctuary. 

Wipe down the pulpit and lectern, including microphones. 

COFFEE / FELLOWSHIP HOUR

Continue to hold a fellowship hour virtually,  using Zoom or Google Meet as a platform.  Consider scheduling this later in the afternoon to allow the congregants who attended one of the various services time to get home and get online.

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