Latest information about ST. LukE'S RESPONSE TO COVID-19 - 9/23/20

OPERATION: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

A video message from Rev. Michele regarding COVID-19

Thank you for your grace, support, and commitment to St. Luke's throughout this time of uncertainty and reprioritization. Please take a moment to watch the video linked above and join the call to stay connected to God with your St. Luke's family. We gratefully welcome your continued prayers and patience as all of us work diligently to keep our community connected to God and one another in the safest way possible. We appreciate your thoughtful questions, your creative ideas, and your outpouring of support as we minister to one another during this time of COVID-19.

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As people of God, the St. Luke’s community remains hopeful and faithful. There is strength through our connection as a community and the staff and leadership teams have been working diligently to find ways to stay connected in a safe and healthy way.   With everyone’s health as our utmost priority, we are looking at all possibilities in a thoughtful and logical manner that includes scientific data as our guide in addition to input from the Mountain Sky Conference and state and local health agencies to develop our plan of action. We continue to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t and ask for your prayers and patience as we seek to honor each member of our community during this pandemic. -Rev. Michele Kaminsky.

OUTDOOR WORSHIP

At St. Luke's, loving our neighbors, both locally and globally, is something we do well! Whether we are collecting food for our neighbors, praying for them, worshiping with them or building them homes, we are truly loving them as God has so wonderfully called us to do. And while that looks a little different than normal right now, we are still loving our neighbors! And this holds true with how we are continuing to imagine our worship time together. We have begun in-person OUTDOOR WORSHIP at St. Luke's in the church backyard at 10:30am with limited attendance. You must sign up online so we can monitor our numbers. This will continue as weather allows. If you are interested in finding out more about our outdoor worship service, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.

OUTDOOR WORSHIP Q & A

QUARANTINE GUIDELINES

Can I attend St. Luke’s in-person gatherings if I have been asked to self-quarantine? Unfortunately not. If you are quarantined for any reason (your school is on quarantine, you have been notified via contact tracing, you have been around a family member or friend that has tested positive for COVID-19, etc..), you cannot attend in-person activities associated with St. Luke's, such as outdoor worship, youth group activities, choir rehearsals, SLIC groups, etc. Please wait the required amount of time (usually two weeks with no symptoms from the time you were put on quarantine or you test negative for COVID-19) before you engage in any in-person gatherings. Thank you for honoring the two-week period and for helping us keep each other safe.

BUILDING USE

While the St. Luke's LITTLE SCHOOL preschool progam has opened for the school year (see link below for more info), the St. Luke’s building and grounds remain temporarily closed to all outside groups, events and SLUMC teams. All staff are encouraged to work from home and via Zoom and SLUMC teams and groups are also encouraged to meet via Zoom.  However with prior approval from lead Clergy and Trustees, limited numbers of persons involved in our ministries are allowed to gather in person when needed or requested following our guidelines. 

IN-PERSON GUIDELINES

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been difficult trying to navigate a return to normal church activities, especially music and worship experiences. Scientific studies have illustrated singing and playing an instrument emits a much higher rate of aerosol than breathing and normal speaking over a period of time. Additionally, large indoor gatherings have also proven problematic depending on duration. Within the last few months, members of our staff have gathered information and scientific data in order to find a way to safely re-engage the ministries at St. Luke’s and worship in the sanctuary. The information we are gathering will help guide and inform an evolving strategy for the St. Luke’s Ministries to return to meetings, rehearsals, and indoor worship experiences in the coming weeks and months. As our community finds ways to come back, the parameters are currently being worked through in order for our community to remain safe and healthy: 

  1. Wear masks 100% of the time
  2. Social Distancing is key
  3. Hand sanitize before and after a meeting with 62-70% alcohol
  4. Air Flow rate in a room must be at least 3 x per hour and 99.97% clean from either HVAC with a HEPA filter or Air purifiers with HEPA filtration.  
  5. Disinfect rooms or spaces after each use 

We acknowledge that some of you do not feel comfortable wearing a mask let alone singing or playing an instrument in masks for a variety of reasons. No matter your reason, we respect your position and are not asking anyone to compromise. Its unfortunate that we have to wear a mask in public but that’s the situation we’re faced with at this time until there is a guarantee for a safe and healthy environment for everyone. 

Please continue praying for the leadership and ministries at St. Luke’s. We will hold each of you in our hearts and in the light until we can all be back together again soon. Many thanks for your patience and understanding during this process. 

MORE INFO:

THE PERFORMING ARTS AEROSOL STUDY OVERVIEW

The International Coalition of Performing Arts Aerosol study is a commissioned (May 2020) international study executed by leading scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Maryland.  In an unprecedented move to help performing arts leaders in their decision making for schools and universities, they released Preliminary studies in July and August prior to the final report that is due in November. Lead researchers are Dr. Shelly Miller at CU and Dr. Jelena Srebric at the University of Maryland who work with a large team of researchers on this project. The study focuses strictly on the distribution of respiratory aerosols that are released while playing wind and brass instruments, singing, acting, speaking, dancing, and during a simulated aerobic activity. The aerosol study includes a Coronavirus risk “estimator tool” developed by Dr. Jose-Luis Jimenez, Professor of Chemistry at CU and a fellow of the American Association for Aerosol Research. The “estimator tool” is a complex spreadsheet that is designed for one to input values from your specific situation and provide scientific data that determines the risk of infection in a room. As you can imagine, several parameters impact the results. Our goal is to find ways to make meeting indoors safe for meetings as well as for singing and playing rehearsals and/or performance during worship. The primary takeaways from the preliminary reports of the performing arts aerosol study relate to air change rates, HEPA filtration units, social distancing, duration of activity, mask efficacy, and enhanced hygiene. 

  • Based on the data, masks significantly reduce aerosol emissions from the mouth when speaking, singing or playing.

When will St. Luke's outdoor worship begin?
The outdoor worship at St. Luke's will begin with three test runs on Aug. 23, 30 and Sept. 6 in order for us to work out the kinks and to make sure we have all of the appropriate safety guidelines and protocols in place. Following these test runs, we will open the worship service for sign ups and officially begin outdoor worship on Kick-Off Sunday, September 13 at 10:30am.
Where will the outdoor worship take place?
The outdoor worship service will take place in the backyard on the stage that was built for PAA's summer camp. It is a beautiful stage and we are excited to be able to utilize it.
What time is the outdoor worship service and when am I expected to arrive?
The service will start at 10:30am. Worshipers are asked to arrive at 10:15am so ushers can get everyone seated safely and with proper social distancing.
How many people can participate in the outdoor worship service?
We hope to maximize the outdoor space with as many people as we can safely social distance. We do not yet know how many people that will allow, but as we learn more in the test runs, we will be able to have a maximum capacity number available.
How long will the outdoor worship service last?
The actual worship service will be 30-40 minutes in length, however you will need to allow time for seating upon your arrival and dismissal upon your departure. Therefore we suggest planning on a total time of 60-75 minutes at the church.
What if I am not comfortable participating in an in-person worship service just yet?
We recognize everyone has their own comfort level with in-person activities, and this worship service is strictly optional. We will continue to livestream our 9:00am service the entire time the outdoor service is being offered.
When will we be able to worship in the sanctuary?
The answer to this question is delicate. While we recognize the holy significance of our sanctuary, the symbols and memories it holds and the beauty it embodies, we also recognize that we can meet God outside of those walls. Our goal is to connect with God and with each other in safe and meaningful ways, and right now, this looks very different than what we are used to.
How long will it be before we gather in the sanctuary again?
That is unknown at this time. The good news is, this COVID-19 situation is temporary. The not so good news is, it is a long term temporary, and that means, we will continue to find creative ways to stay connected in small groups, classes, mission work, activities, livestream worship and outdoor worship.
What do I need to bring with me to the outdoor service?
Worshipers are asked to bring their own lawn chairs and face masks. We ask that you put on your face mask before you get out of your car. You may also want to have your cell phone with you to view the announcements and bulletin on our app. A QR code will be provided at the Welcome Table. Please be sure to silence your cell phones during the service.
Why are we being asked to wear a mask if worship is outside?
St. Luke's UMC seeks to ensure the safety and comfort of all worshipers. Wearing face masks when gathering as a group, even social distanced outside, reduces the spread of aerosol droplets in the air, which is one of the ways this highly contagious disease is transmitted. We recognize that wearing a mask can be annoying and inconvenient, however, anything we can do to reduce the risk of even one person contracting COVID-19 is worth it. Bishop Karen Oliveto has charged the Mountain Sky Conference with not losing a single person from this disease due to gathering together. We take this seriously at St. Luke's and we want each and everyone of us, high risk or not, kept safe. Therefore, we have adopted the Love Your Neighbor concept for our gatherings, and if you sign up for an outdoor worship service, and forget your mask, you will receive a free mask from St. Luke's. Thank you for understanding the delicate nature of wearing masks.
If my child is three years old or under, will he/she be required to wear a mask?
Studies indicate that children three and under do not project enough aerosols far enough into the air to reach beyond the social distanced seating we will have during the service, therefore if your child/children are three or under, they will not be required to wear a mask, but we ask that you keep them safely within your seating area.
What if I forget my lawn chair or my mask, will I be asked to leave?
We know how easy it is to leave the house without everything you need. We ask that you make every effort to bring your lawn chair and mask with you, however, should you forget, you will not be asked to leave. We will have a sanitized chair and disposable mask available for you. We hope we will not have to utilize these often, but should this happen, we've got you covered!
Where should I park for the service?
Entry to the outdoor worship service will take place on the north side of the building only, therefore parking as close to the north side of the building makes sense. If you pull into a parking space and notice another family is getting out of their car, we ask you to please wait until they have moved away from their car before you get out of yours, and be sure to put your mask on before you get out of your car.
Where should I go once I have my mask on and have my lawn chair in hand?
When you exit your car, you can line up on the side walk on the north side of the building. Markers will indicate a safe social distancing between each worshiping family. When you reach the Welcome Table, a greeter or an usher will welcome you, will check you in, will make sure you have signed our waiver, and will take you to a space in the backyard where you can set up your lawn chairs and get comfortable as you await the service.
Will the backyard seating be social distanced?
Our ushers will ensure you are seated at a safe social distance from other worshiping families. Our backyard will be spaced out ahead of time so there is no confusion.
Will there be a Children's Time at the outdoor service?
Children will have a designated time during the outdoor worship, however they will not be asked to come forward. We will recognize them from where they are seated, and a Worship Bag will be available for them to pick up at the Welcome Table when they arrive that they can keep and take home with them.
What if I have to go to the bathroom?
We ask that you take care of your bathroom needs before you arrive, however should you need to use the bathroom at any time during the service, a porta-potty will be available on the southwest side of the building for your use. A bathroom attendant will sanitize the bathroom after each use. A ten minute waiting period is required for full sanitization between each use, so you may be asked to wait until it is safe to enter. Thank you for your patience and understanding with this.

Will I be able to hear?
Our Tech Team has worked hard to ensure proper sound projection in the backyard, and we are confident you will be able to hear the service no matter where you are seated. If you find you do have difficulty hearing, please let an usher know so you can be re-seated.
Will there be singing during worship?
The outdoor worship service is designed to offer a positive, inspirational and safe experience for all, and music is a vital part of this experience. The outdoor worship service will offer music, however we politely ask you to refrain from singing with our song leaders. Aerosols emitted from singing, even with masks, pose an infection risk indoors, and the Mountain Sky Conference guideline is to eliminate indoor singing. While the risk is likely less outdoors, we are erring on the side of caution. Yes, this will be difficult for some of us who love to sing, but yes, we can do this to ensure the safety and comfort of all. All song leaders will be masked and will remain on the stage at least 15 feet from the front row of worshipers. Thank you for respecting the comfort level of those around you as you Love Your Neighbor, and we invite you to hum and tap your toes as you wish!
What about inclement weather?
We ask that you come to the outdoor worship service dressed appropriately for the weather that morning. As we know in Colorado, things can change rather quickly, so bring layers and umbrellas as needed. If it should be raining heavily on Sunday morning, we will email you to let you know of our intention to cancel the service. If it should begin to rain heavily during the service, we will bring worship to a close and have the ushers dismiss you.
Will we still worship outside when the weather turns cold?
The stage in the backyard is a beautiful setting for outdoor worship in good weather. However, when it starts to get too cold to do this, we will look into parking lot worship so you can stay inside your vehicle for the duration of the service. More information on that will follow later in the Fall.
How do we get back to our cars after the service is over?
When the service is completed, we ask that you remain in your lawn chairs until an usher comes to you to dismiss you. This will ensure everyone can stay properly social distanced upon departure. The ushers will dismiss those seated at the back of the yard first. If you happen to arrive at your car and another family is getting into the car next to yours, we ask that you wait until they are in their car and have closed all doors before you approach and enter your car.
Will there be a time for fellowship after the service?
Connecting with each other is so important, however, we will not be providing a fellowship time following the service for safety reasons. Our focus for our time together will be to connect with God in a communal setting. If you desire a more personal connection with the St. Luke's community, please consider joining or starting a small group.
Will there be an opportunity for an offering?
Giving back to God is an important part of being a faithful steward, and we will provide two opportunities for you to give at the outdoor worship. As you exit the service at the direction of the ushers, you will pass the Welcome Table which will have a Donation Jar. You may place your cash or check in the bucket on your way out, or you can use your cell phone to scan the QR code near the jar which will take you a donation page on our website to make your offering at any time.
Do we have a system in place for contact tracing?
Yes. When you sign up to attend an outdoor worship service, you will be asked to list the people who will be attending with you, and you will be asked to provide your contact information at that time. If we need to contact you for any reason, you will be notified of the situation and any action you might need to take.
Will we be taking communion on the first Sunday of the month at the outdoor worship service?
On the first Sunday of each month we will take communion. A sanitized, prepackaged communion set consisting of a wafer and juice cup will be provided at the Welcome Table for you to pick up when you enter. When it is time for communion during the service, you will be instructed to open your packet and partake of the elements. We ask that you hold on tight to the wrapper and any unused contents until the end of the service when you can throw them away as you exit. A trash can will be available by the welcome table.
How do we sign up if we want to attend an outdoor worship service?
You can sign up online for an outdoor worship service. We are using Sign Up Genius, and you will be asked how many will be in your group, the names of the people in your group, the contact information for the people in your group and each member of your group will be asked to sign a waiver or to verify that every one has already signed a waiver. If you sign up for a worship service and realize you will not be able to attend after all, we ask that you cancel your reservation using the same link.
What if I have to sneeze or cough?
We can't always predict when we might sneeze or cough, therefore we ask that you keep your mask on at all times when you are outside of your car. Should you sneeze or cough during the service, not to worry. Please leave your mask on, and cover your mouth. Hand sanitizer will be available at the Welcome Table, and we ask that you disinfect your hands. Going to the Welcome Table will not disrupt the service in any way.
What if I am not able to carry my lawn chair or cannot walk unassisted?
If you are unable to carry a lawn chair or cannot navigate the lawn unassisted, please check the BOX on the sign up form and we will reserve a parking spot for you so you can remain in your car and view the service from your car by rolling down your window. We will have three parking spots available for in-car needs, and you will need to wear your mask when you roll down your window. When you pull into the parking lot, go to the end of the north lot, put on your mask, roll down your window and alert an usher that you are signed up for one of the in-car parking spots.
Will we be allowed to enter the building?
St. Luke's building will remain closed to worship participants before, during and after the outdoor worship service. Only worship leaders, staff, tech assistants and clergy will be allowed to enter the building. Our goal in this is safety, and limiting building use ensures our safety and reduces the amount of sanitization required following building entry and use. Thank you for your understanding in this.
Can I attend St. Luke’s in-person gatherings if I have been asked to self-quarantine? Unfortunately not. If you are in quarantine for any reason (your school is on quarantine, you have been notified via contact tracing from a gathering, you have been around a family member or friend that has tested positive for COVID-19, etc..), you cannot attend in-person activities associated with St. Luke's, such as outdoor worship, youth group activities, choir rehearsals, SLIC groups, etc. Please wait the required amount of time (usually two weeks with no symptoms from the time you were put on quarantine or you test negative for COVID-19) before you engage in any in-person gatherings. Thank you for honoring the two week period and for helping us keep each other safe.

No matter how we have to do it, we will continue to love our neighbors and to worship God! Thank you St. Luke's for your grace, courage and wonder that goes beyond the walls of our building! -Rev. Michele