In-Person Worship Updates

May 27, 2021 by     Comments Off on In-Person Worship Updates    Posted under: Uncategorized

Sign up for worship is no longer required. Please read the update below.

May 26, 2021

Dear people loved by Christ,

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18a

Ascension’s elders, congregational president, and pastors recently met to discuss Ascension’s plan as we begin to emerge from the threat of COVID-19. Our discussion was done with much prayer as we looked not only to CDC guidelines, but more important, to God’s Word. Our conversation was shaped by words such as 1 John 4:18 as we made decisions, not out of fear, but love for neighbor—confident of God’s perfect love for us in Christ our Savior.

Even if not all members of Ascension agree with decisions that were made, we pray that these differences of opinion would not become an opportunity for Satan to divide us. Instead, we ask the Lord to make each of us “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

As an email last week indicated, the wearing of face masks is optional for worship services and adult Bible classes at Ascension. For detailed information concerning who the CDC advises can go without a mask, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. In addition to this, please note the following updates connected to COVID procedures.

Seating for Worship

Registering in advance for worship (online or by phone) in order to reserve a seat is no longer necessary. Thank you for your patience and cooperation in this reservation process over these past months. Moving forward, tape will be removed from the pulpit side of the church to allow for seating in every row. Every other pew on the lectern side will remain taped-off to allow for intentional social distancing. Worshipers are free to sit where they are most comfortable.

Lobby Area

Masks and hand sanitizer will continue to be made available in the church lobby. The large self-serve urns will be used again for coffee on Sunday mornings. Tables and chairs will return to the Hintze Library area for fellowship.

Offering

We will continue to forego passing the offering plate at this time. We ask worshipers to please place offerings and gifts in the wooden box in the narthex or consider giving online. Online giving (whether one-time or continuous) can be arranged through our website, www.ascensionstl.com, under the tab “online giving.”

Communion Distribution

The elements for Holy Communion will return to being placed on the altar, where the Words of Institution will be spoken. The Lord’s Supper will then be distributed following Ascension’s “continuous line” procedure. Those communing will come forward into the chancel to receive Christ’s body and blood. Those distributing communion will sanitize their hands immediately before and also wear masks during distribution.

Materials in the Pews

We are discontinuing the use of “Fellowship Books” in order to record attendance in worship. We will instead soon be utilizing attendance cards for individuals and families. Our hymnals, Lutheran Service Book, will be placed back in the pews. However, for the immediate future, words to hymns/songs will also be printed in the bulletin.

Mask Wearing for Children in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School

Ascension has made in-person Sunday School and VBS a top priority. We believe it is vital for children to learn God’s Word, and the Gospel of Jesus, both in the home and at church. To allow for this in-person learning to take place as safely as possible, we are requesting that children (following CDC guidelines) wear masks while at Sunday School and VBS for the immediate future.

This decision was guided by two main reasons:

  • This request follows the operational guidelines set by the CDC (cdc.gov), to which the City of St. Louis is requesting we comply. In the 4th Commandment and its meaning, we are called to “honor” and “obey” earthly authorities, recognizing that God Himself has put these authorities in place (see Romans 13:1-2; 7).
  • While transmission of COVID among children may be very unlikely, Ascension’s leadership still has concern for the safety of the youngest among us. We encourage parents to partner with us in helping children see masks not as objects of fear, but as a way they can show love for their neighbor.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1–3

In the verses above, the apostle Paul urges the Church in Ephesus to be characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, and peace. I pray that these same godly qualities are demonstrated by each of us at Ascension as we heal from this time of COVID.

In Christ,

Pastor Matthew Clark