What to Expect When We Gather Together on Sundays

Words are not sufficient to describe how excited I and the other elders are about re-
gathering in person. This morning I read through 1 Thessalonians 2. Verse 17 stood out
in particular: “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in
person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you
face to face.” I’m guessing that we are all excited to see each other again.

And yet, our interactions will not be exactly what they were before this pandemic. The in-person gatherings will be less than ideal, and with that comes a “clumsiness” that we
will need to tolerate for a season. Some of you are excited but anxious about being in
public with a larger group of people. Others are probably worried that your kids will
unintentionally break the distancing barrier. I anticipate our initial gatherings to be a
mixture of different thoughts and emotions; the thrill of being together again mixed with some awkwardness and hesitancies.

We need to massage verses like Colossians 3:12-14 into our minds and hearts at all
times, and especially in seasons like this: “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and
beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing
with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” It takes intentionality on our part
and nothing less than divine grace to dress ourselves as Christians in a way that
announces and keeps our unity in Christ.

What follows is a guide on “what to expect” when you arrive on Sunday morning for the
in-person gathering.

Precautions Attendees Should Take

  • Take the COVID-19 Self-Examination (https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx)
  • Extend grace to one another by respecting personal space and limiting physical contact. For the huggers and hand-shakers out there, this will be a test of your self-control!
  • Be sensitive to differing views on COVID-19 held by your brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Stay home if you are immune compromised, have any symptoms, or have been in contact with someone that you know tested positive for COVID-19.

When to Show Up
At this point, we have two services (9:15 and 10:45). Please plan to be at the church 15-20 minutes before the service starts. The ushers are going to seat people as quickly as possible, but it will still take some time to get people situated. If the foyer is getting too crowded with bodies, you may have to stay out in the courtyard until the greeter tells you to come in. If it is raining or threating rain, consider bringing an umbrella.

Visitors/Those Who Didn’t Register
Some of you have informed us that you plan to bring people with you to church. Our
desire is to see many people from Calgary and beyond hear the Word preached, so
visitors are welcome. With that said, at this time we have limited seats available and we are basically at our cap for each service, so we cannot guarantee a spot for walk-ins, whether you are a regular attender at CGC or a visitor. If you do plan to attend the service, please email info@calvarygrace.ca for the RSVP form. Our Pastoral Assistant, Michael Fontanilla, will help you if you have any questions.

Anyone who has not RSVP’d online but who wishes to attend the service must register
at the front door before they will be seated (assuming space is available). We need to
keep track of this in case there is ever an outbreak.

There will be at least one greeter at the main south door. When you enter the building,
please sanitize your hands; do the same when you leave the building. There will not be
time to linger in the foyer, so please head directly to the sanctuary doors and an usher
will greet you. At the end of the service, you will exit out the North door by the stairwell.

We also have masks available at the entrance. Feel free to take one.

Seating and Ushering
Because we need to maintain the physical distancing requirement, we have created a
general seating pattern that the ushers have been instructed to use. The key thing for
you to remember is this: Please Wait to Be Seated. Like a wedding, the ushers will
seat individuals, couples or larger families based on where there is space. You can
make a request to the ushers to sit in a certain area, though it is ultimately up to the
usher’s discretion depending on space. We will try to accommodate people’s requests
as best as we can.

Right now, we have three designated areas for seating: main sanctuary, balcony, and
the foyer. We will fill up the spaces in that order.

NOTE: Please do not use the coat racks. Keep your coats, purses, bags, etc. with you.

For at least the first few weeks we are not going to have congregational singing. Pastor
Clint will lead some songs, but we would ask that you do not sing. It is good and
necessary for saints to belt out our praises, and we anticipate singing together soon.
But we (the elders) believe that this is best for now, especially to help those who are still
uneasy about gathering, though still choosing to join us in person.
Participation during this part of the service will mainly be reflecting on the words of the
songs, learning to “make melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19). You could also
hum along with the music. The key consideration is this: no “full-out” congregational
singing for now. We acknowledge that this is very weird, but it will only for a short time.

Noisy Children
Nursery and catechism are not available at this time. As such, we are prepared to have
many more “distractions” during our worship service together. If you need to take your
child out, please go into the courtyard (weather permitting) or into Luther Hall. There will be some people seated in the Foyer and the doors to the sanctuary will be left open.

Mothers, please note: the feeding room downstairs is still available for you to use.

The main bathrooms downstairs will be sanitized after each service. If you enter and
find that it is currently being used, please wait outside the door until the other person is finished. Now, of course, if little Johnny is about to wet his pants, then forget what I just said!

End of Service
Once the service is finished, the ushers will let people leave row by row, area by area.
They will dismiss people in the foyer, then the sanctuary, and finally the balcony. So
again, please wait to be dismissed.

Because we have two services and a limited time to clean between each one, we will
need to clear out the building quite rapidly after the service.

Post-Service Fellowship
Because we are ushering people out of the building after the service, there won’t be
opportunity to catch up and chat like normal. Please don’t be offended if one of the
ushers breaks up a conversation and asks you to leave.

One suggestion for post-service fellowship is to gather at the park across the street after the service. Maybe bring a picnic lunch and let the kids horse around on the playground while you enjoy some “physically distanced” fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. This obviously depends on the weather – which is always easy to count on in Alberta, right?!

Instructions for Cleaning Teams
We will sanitize hard surfaces after each service. Sanitizing wipes are kept in each of
the following locations, and the cleaning crew will start once the area is cleared out.
There will be about 15-20 mins to clean.

  • Sanctuary (wipe down the pews, pulpit, and music stands).
  • Foyer and Balcony (wipe down the chairs, pews, railing and door handles)
  • Stairwell and Basement (wipe down the railing, bathroom [handles and faucets],
    and nursing mothers’ room)
  • Luther Hall (wipe down the outside door handles, seats, and bathroom).

Finally, let me encourage you who are attending to reach out to your brothers and
sisters who are going to the other service and those who are not attending in-person at
this time. Unity is always fragile; it is especially delicate now. So, pick up the phone
(they still exist), write a hand-written card (we have the technology for that), hop on
FaceTime, organize a back-yard BBQ – find ways to connect with others. Ask how you
can pray for them and serve them. And then pray and serve!

Someday soon our fellowship will be uninterrupted by viruses and unhindered by sin.

Until then, keep your hand to the plow!

Pastor Josh
(on behalf of the elders)