St James Lutheran Church, St James, Long Island
After the Covid shut down, communion was first offered again on Pentecost outside the building. Out of a typical weekend worship of about 150, 122 came to the outdoor communion including shut-ins and 18 teenagers. Few young families communed as they may not be ready to bring the children out. In addition, fewer new Christians came.
The body and blood, both wafer and wine, were offered. For the Covid communion, the church changed for the first time from the common cup to individual cups. The host was given in the hand not on the tongue.
Pastor Neil sent out an email to the congregation with a video explaining the new process for use during the time of Covid. One family at a time walked up to the pastor at his station outside the church. Shut-ins could drive up. Only the pastor touched the elements and he used hand sanitizer between each group.
This method of receiving communion will be offered once a month. The Long Island area expects to be in Phase Two in July, which includes opening of churches. Therefore, services in the church are expected to restart in the end of July.
St Paul’s Lutheran Church Saratoga Springs
In mid-June communion began to be offered again, in the church, weekly on Thursday afternoons, after a complete shutdown since March. Three groups of a maximum of three family members, one group per church aisle, signed up for communion using Sign-Up Genius. If there were only one or two people for an aisle, the church secretary blocked the rest of the sign up group. Those members who did not want to use Sign-Up Genius could just call the church office, then working from home.
Pastor Adam had been having weekly Wednesday “refuel” chats which are posted on the church website, on Facebook, as well as linked in the weekly email newsletter. As part of the pastor’s weekly refuel chat, he talked through the new Covid process for communion the week before starting communion.
On Thursdays, the doors to the church are propped open and hand sanitizer is available near the door. Two ushers asked the members to wait with their masks on until the pastor comes to get them after he has prepared the elements on the sanitized tray and individual disposable cups. (Gluten free wafers are provided as needed.) Each aisle has a table on which a tray with the elements would be placed. The members stood six feet back from the table when the pastor brought the elements to the table. The pastor used an abbreviated service including confession and absolution of sins and then the words of institution patterned after the form used to commune St. Paul's homebound members.
This communion service was first offered on June 11th. Fifty-five people out of a typical weekend worship of over 200 people took advantage of the opportunity. This method of communion will be provided until physical distancing guidelines are revised and communion during worship is once again possible.