At Home Communion

Holy Communion is a special meal we celebrate when we worship together. The bread and wine become for us the body and blood of Christ through the proclamation of God’s promise of mercy. While this is normally practiced in a public service of worship with the assembled congregation, in these days of the Coronavirus pandemic, such gatherings are not possible. Fasting from Holy Communion until we are able to worship together is one faithful response. Another faithful response would be to celebrate this meal at home. As Lutherans, we remember that Martin Luther provided the Small Catechism with the understanding that the home is the first church and the heads of the household also serve as a teacher of the faith. With that in mind, we believe that it would be appropriate, during this time, for families to celebrate holy communion together in their homes.

> This brief liturgy is designed for this use in the home using Zoom, where the Pastor will preside over this special meal with those who have received home communion kits. (These kits are available for pick up in the church office.) Communion in this way will continue until virus restrictions and precautions have ceased and we are able to joyfully return to our house of worship to celebrate this meal together side by side.

Weekly Transportation to Church for Seniors

We are excited to announce that St. Michael provides transportation for seniors to Sunday Services EVERY WEEK. The bus will make stops at the Luther House and Jenner’s Pond campuses in Jennersville. The bus is an outreach ministry of the congregation and continues to grow with new riders. If you are interested in riding the bus to church from these locations, please contact the church office for a schedule of pick up times and specific locations.

The Latest from the St. Michael Re-Opening Task Force

Back in the spring, the Church Council appointed a Re-Opening Task Force at the recommendation of the Pastors. This team would research, study, and recommend to Council a plan for safety first in dealing with the current covid-19 pandemic, the eventual safe re- opening of our facility, and the necessary guidelines for any and all “in-person” gatherings and activities.

The current Task Force members are: Pastor Rick, Janet Parks, Sue Rossi, Jessica Wilson, Dr. Vicky Mawn, Will Majarian, and Lou Minella.

The Re-Opening Task Force (TF) reviewed results of the recent survey taken by the Congregation. Upon discussion, there were no real surprises. The written comments were positive about the online services. People the use of many members for the readings, special music, and choirs. The top things people are missing, centered around Holy Communion and seeing people “in person”. The connection with others and the fellowship aspect are certainly missed. Ideas suggested were continuing parking lot gatherings like the recent tailgate events, possible outdoor service, and finding a way to offer Holy Communion.

The Task Force (TF) discussed the topic of other area churches that may be starting in-person worship. One thing to keep in mind, for the most part, many of these churches have the technology available to “live stream” a worship team leading worship from a sanctuary. Most music is done remotely, or pre-recorded choral music worked into the live stream. A huge advantage for most of these churches is their ability to use projection screens in their worship space, similar to our current setup in the fellowship hall. These churches also possess a large enough internet bandwidth to handle people using iPad’s and cell phones to download bulletins, announcements, and readings for services taking place in a sanctuary. (socially distanced, masked, no singing, no paper bulletins, and following the PA Green phase of no more than 25 indoors)

TF members shared what they are experiencing out in the field, (i.e. places of employment, etc.) Although Chester County is currently in the “Green Phase” of the Governor’s plan to re-open the State, at the time of our meeting there was the beginning of Coronavirus outbreaks around the country, especially with colleges and schools opening. Vicky shared that she continues to caution her patients (Christiana Care) to limit contact with others as much as possible, wash hands, mask, and distance. Concern is also high for the beginning of flu season and the added issues this presents for people. And in recent weeks since our meeting, Chester County is reporting a rise in population testing positive for COVID.

The Team is compiling an extremely rough draft of what a re-opening plan would entail in the future should we begin to plan for “in-person indoor gatherings.” Following further discussion of concerns from the medical and safety issues being employed by Christiana Care, Chester County Health Department, local hospital and nursing coordinators, the TF is not prepared to recommend large group indoor gatherings at this time. In addition, considering all the precautions that would be needed to maintain the safety of our members, visitors, and staff; social distancing, masking, no singing, no food or drinks; potentially no use of bathroom facilities except in emergency; limiting worship time to less than 45 minutes due to air-flow circulation and fresh- air replenishment in the space; and a contact tracing plan to be initiated, the TF believes the best opportunity for worship remains the current online worship being offered each week.

Recommendations from the Task Force … approved by Church Council

  • St. Michael will continue to suspend in-person worship services through the end of October and to be re-evaluated on a month to month basis going forward.
  • All large-group, indoor programming be suspended or moved online for the remainder of 2020. This includes choirs, confirmation and youth programming, and Sunday School, each to be supported in other, primarily digital, means. The TF will meet monthly, prior to Council meetings to provide any recommended updates.
  • The TF is aware that there are members who miss the spiritual aspect of being in the sanctuary. To that end, Pastor Rick has suggested an open prayer time. Each Monday morning our sanctuary could be opened for personal prayer, reflection, and meditation. Members can enjoy a peaceful time to pray in the beauty of the sanctuary. Candles will be lit. All social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer and sanitization best practices will be in place. The cleaning crew will be alerted so they will know to perform the necessary wipe down of surfaces the following day. Pastor will communicate the start of this.
  • Special Worship Services priority - These may be considered as “soft opening” events. Pastor Rick will develop guidelines to be followed that will incorporate the current building use requirements and precautions. A “Special Service” refers to baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmation, etc. There are several of these on the church calendar. These should be scheduled in such a way that our cleaning crew would have sufficient notice to make the areas ready for use. Gatherings would be limited in size. In the case of weddings or funerals, the family will be required to follow the current COVID-19 guidelines and be required to pay for additional cleaning if needed to prepare the space following the event.
  • Building Usage – With a few exceptions, our building remains closed, especially to outside Groups. If and when we consider groups using the building, they will be subject to the requirements already in place. A next step to consider might be to allow church committees to have small (less than 7) in-person meetings (using the fellowship hall) but the chairperson must be responsible for wiping down all surfaces and following all COVID-19 requirements St. Michael has in place. (It would be more beneficial and safer for all involved if committees continued to meet using Zoom)
  • Church Staff is encouraged to work remotely from home a few days a week. The staff has a strict office protocol for wiping surfaces and door handles while in the building. Continued use of masks, social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing will be practiced.
  • The Online Worship service should continue to be offered each week.

The top priority of the Task Force remains the ability for our congregation to worship together, while maintaining all safety precautions as directed by State and local healthcare professionals. The team continues to recommend the practice of “I am my brother’s keeper” at St. Michael, as we walk slowly through the process of getting back and maintaining “in-person activities”.

Current St. Michael COVID-19 Requirements …

  • Masks must be worn at all times in the building. Signs to be posted on entrance doors of the building, “No Mask No Entry”.
  • Social Distancing of at least 6-7 ft. indoors and outdoors.
  • Strict attention to cleaning. All surfaces in high touch areas must be wiped down with disinfectant routinely after use.
  • Bathrooms –usage guidelines will be created, honoring the above requirements.
  • Hand washing – encourage washing often especially upon leaving bathrooms. Hand sanitizer will also be available in a variety of locations throughout the building.
  • No Food or Drinks – until further notice no beverages or food after worship.
  • No Communion – Holy Communion as we are accustomed, around the altar, pouring wine and handling bread will not be practiced for obvious reasons. Holy Communion using Zoom and/or YouTube will be introduced.

Church Publications…

at St. Michael

The Archangel Herald - Our monthly newsletter in PDF format.

At Home Communion During The Pandemic - In PDF format.

Lutherans Restoring Creation Bulletin - In PDF format.

Those Who Serve - Greeters, ushers, lectors, acolytes, communion servers, coffee hosts & altar flowers

St. Michael 2019 Annual Reports

The Simply Giving Program - Endorsed by Thrivent Financial Bank

Secure Online Giving Form

Living Lutheran - The magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

About The ELCA - Mission, vision, history, and more

ELCA News - The latest from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA

St. Michael Building Usage Policy - Please read before requesting use of any church facilities.

Facilities Usage Request - Print & complete and submit to the church office.

Kitchen Usage Request - Print & complete and submit to the church office.

Kitchen Clean-Up Checklist - Print & complete and submit to the church office.

Other News…

at St. Michael

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If you enjoy reading good news, browsing the Web, or taking in a little history and humor while doing so, we think you’ll enjoy browsing these additional sections of our St. Michael Daily.  They are updated EVERY day. We particularly enjoy reading the everyday hero stories in the link at the top of our OTHER NEWS page.