Congregational Feedback Regarding In-Person In-Door Worship

Wonderful St. Philippians:

The St Philip Covid Preparedness Team is seeking your input. As you know, currently we have weekly online worship as well as our recently initiated monthly drive-in worship with communion.  As we make plans for how worship and fellowship can continue to happen in our congregation, we would like to know how you feel about returning to some type of in-person worship in the sanctuary.

We are asking you to take a moment and complete a very brief online survey, but first please be aware of some specifics of what resuming indoor worship in the sanctuary would look like:

  • Based on calculations of 6-foot distancing in our sanctuary space, only 36 worshippers could attend a given service.
  • Masks would be required at all times when inside the church building, except for brief removal when taking communion.
  • The service would have NO SINGING due to the increased risk of transmission of the coronavirus that accompanies singing in an indoor space. There may be some instrumental music, but no singing of hymns or liturgy.
  • There would be no physical contact between congregants and pastors or amongst congregants.  This includes shaking hands, hugs, or any other forms of physical greeting during arrival at the church, passing of the peace, and departing the church after worship.
  • Communion would be offered, but in a format that minimizes physical contact between pastors and congregants.
  • The nursery would not be available.
  • Let’s Café would not be held after service.

Given this information, please click this link to complete the 2-question survey:

The Covid Preparedness Team will use your responses as we continue to discern the safest path forward for St. Philip. Thank you so much in advance for your participation, and we hope to see many of you at the “Congregational Picnic—pandemic style” on July 11th! (see July newsletter for details)

From the St Philip Covid Preparedness Team:  Marlene Craig, Dan Horine, Shannon Radmacher, Nancy Shadix, Donna Wright, Pastor David, Pastor Laura


Create a Worship Space at Home

Pastor Laura gives some pointers on how to easily create a worship space in your home.
COVID19 News Uncategorized

Newest Pastoral Update from St. Philip

Dear St. Philippians, 

In consultation with health agencies and the Virginia Synod, ELCA, on March 13, 2020, all in-person gatherings at St. Philip were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The St. Philip Church Council later extended this practice through May 17, 2020. We acknowledge that this time of physical distancing has been hard. We grieve the lack of in-person connections. One of the gifts of living in a community as St. Philip is being with one another. But even as we have missed being together physically, we give thanks that we have never ceased being the church! God has walked with us through this season and will continue to guide and comfort us in the days and weeks to come.  

As we are now entering the time of a phased reopening approach, St. Philip will operate under the following guidelines and practices. Please know that these practices were thoughtfully prepared in consultation with the relevant health and government authorities. We want to return in the very best way possible, and as frustrating as it might be, we need time to prepare to do that well.

As always, our mission as disciples of Christ is to live out the love and grace shown to us by God. We understand that mission during this time of pandemic to be one of love and care for our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable among us. While these plans are intended to be carried out, they may be revised at any point in response to new relevant information.

Phase One: Starting May 15

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 1: Limit gatherings to those that can be held virtually”

St. Philip’s Practices 

  • Continued suspension of in-person gatherings for worship 
  • Open Doors digital worship will be offered at 8:30 and 11:00am on May 17 then at 9:30am starting May 24. Additionally, the worship video is posted to Facebook and the church website. 
  • Conference call access offered for both services. 
  • Church Council is forming a COVID Preparedness Team to plan for, resource, and implement restrictions for in person gatherings of faith communities.

Phase Two: Beginning 2-4 weeks after the start of Phase One, to be announced by Governor Northam

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 2: Consider continuing to hold gatherings virtually… for vulnerable populations and consider video streaming or drive-in options for services.”

St. Philip’s Practices

  • Open Doors digital worship will continue to be offered at 9:30am. Additionally, worship will be posted to Facebook and the church website, as well as access via conference call 
  • Drive In Worship will be held in the church parking lot on a monthly basis, while still following important social distancing guidelines.
    • Worshippers may attend the worship service while seated in their cars with windows rolled up. Through a radio transmitter worship will be broadcast using the FM radio in the vehicle.  Windows must stay rolled up throughout the service to prevent the spread of the virus between closely parked cars. 
    • A worship bulletin will be emailed to the congregation in the week prior to worship that they are invited to print at home and bring to worship. For those unable to access email, bulletins will be provided at the church.
    • During the passing of the peace, worshippers who are wearing masks are invited to exit their vehicles and stand by them to wave a greeting of peace to the community. Social distancing is to be maintained during the passing of the peace. Worshippers not wearing masks should not exit their vehicles. 
    • Communion will be celebrated at the drive in worship service. Worshippers are asked to bring their own communion elements with them to worship. Worship elements include bread or, gluten free bread or crackers, and either wine or grape juice. 
    • The pastors will lead the service and walk by cars to greet worshippers. The pastors will practice social distancing while leading and interacting with worshippers. 

Phase Three: Will start at a later date to be announced by Governor Northam

From the CDC Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith, “Phase 3: Limit gatherings to those that can maintain social distancing and consider video streaming or drive-in options for vulnerable populations.”

St. Philip Practices

  • The pastors and congregational council will continue to consult state and federal health guidelines before making decisions about Phase Three operations. 
  • The sincere hope is to resume in-person gatherings in Phase Three. The pastors and St. Philip Council will consult the Bishop’s Office and all relevant state and federal guidelines about gatherings at the time. 
  • Online worship will continue to be offered in some form to serve the whole community. 

We know that this time of pandemic has not been easy. We miss worshipping with our St.Philip family and spending time with one another. We give thanks that this hard time will not last forever. In the meantime, we give thanks for one another, for the ways we are connecting during this time, and the love of God that holds us always. 

In God’s care, 

Pastor David and Pastor Laura 

COVID19 News

In this unfamiliar wilderness – A letter from your pastors

Dear beloved St. Philippians,

Months ago, when we decided to use Wilderness as our theme for the season of Lent, we had no idea what would transpire over the past few weeks. Indeed, this present time feels like we are entering into an unfamiliar wilderness filled with rapidly evolving updates and recommendations for social interactions. We chose the theme of Wilderness for our Lenten journey together because throughout scripture, God’s people and even Jesus spent time in the wilderness. While these wilderness journeys were never easy, God was present in the midst of it. The rapid changes of this present wilderness can make us feel overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and lonely. While all of those feeling are valid, we nevertheless lean into the goodness of God. The faithful One who walks with us in the Wilderness. Today seems like one of those times for the spiritual practice (very Lenten) of reciting verse 10 of Psalm 46 while inhaling and exhaling. Breathe in “be still”. Breathe out “and know that I am God”. Breathe in, breathe out. Be still. Know that God is God. God is with us and God will see us through this wilderness.

We will indeed continue to be the community of St. Philip during this time, but rather than announcing further plans or trying to set a date for a return to normal, we, your pastors, want to encourage us all to take a deep breath. To pray. To give yourself the space and grace you need in this overwhelming time. God’s promise in Jesus is as much the gift of grace today as it was a week ago. Remember nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). You are a beloved child of God.

We care about you. We value the community we are at St. Philip. And now more than ever are listening for God’s call for us all to Live Like That (like Jesus) to love, and feed and serve. God’s mission still has a church and we, pastors and congregation together, will live into that mission fully even now. The ways that we love, feed, and serve our neighbors now may look a bit different, but the calling is no less legitimate. We are listening! Help us to serve you and to lead with faith and hope.

Please do know that we are constantly trying to be creative in ways we might be community with one another while also still engaging with our neighbors. Continue to practice disciplines of faith during this season of Lent:

  • Pray – Pray without ceasing lifting one another and the world in a time of crisis.
  • Give alms – Share what you can, where you can.
  • Practice generosity – Give grace to everyone (including yourself) as we get through this time.
  • Fast – Maybe not in terms of not eating but refrain from hoarding so that everyone might have food to eat.

We very much need each other and encourage you to connect with one another! Through letters, emails, texts, calls – isolation can be incredibly difficult, so check in with your neighbors. Remember always, that even as we walk through this time of wilderness, we do not walk alone. We walk with one another as a church family and we walk with the love of God in Christ, know always that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

In God’s promise,

Pastor Laura and Pastor David