As you may have heard or read by now, Michigan Executive Order 2020-142 (July 10, 2020) – Masks, has been issued. Effective immediately (beginning July 10, 2020), any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth. This includes when you are in any indoor public space; and, when you’re outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of your household.
For our purposes at St. Paul, the requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to individuals who: 1. Are younger than five years old, 2. Cannot medically tolerate a face covering, or, 3. Are officiating at a religious service.
In addition, to protect workers and the community, no business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises, unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by this order beginning Monday, July 13, 2020.
However, no individual is subject to penalty for removing a mask while engaging in religious worship at a house of religious worship. Nevertheless, consistent with guidance from the CDC, congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious services, especially while singing.
What this means is that, as a business that is open to the public, you must wear a mask to enter St. Paul for any reason, unless you meet one of the three above exemptions. Signs will be posted at the doors as a reminder. A limited number of masks may be available if you forget yours. Our worship service rules and practices remain unchanged by this Executive Order.
We realize that this Executive Order is cheered by some and booed by others. We understand the constantly changing rules and practices are frustrating to all of us. All we ask is that you respect our leaders and staff as they apply the ever changing rules and practices we are given to work with.
Finally, heed the words of St. Paul: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:3-7)
Let us, by the Spirit’s power, imitate the humility of Christ Jesus while we suffer for a little while. For the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
Why have we Turned Off the Air Conditioner?
In order to reduce the possible spread of COVID 19 during our worship services, we have determined it to be the safest to turn off the air conditioning system. There are many factors that went into this decision, but the following are the main reasons.
The air conditioning system at St. Paul is 100% return air. This means that all air in the space gets returned back into that space. The system does not introduce any fresh air from outside into the building.
When the air conditioner or fans are running, they blow in a continuous pattern that does not vary. If, for example, you are sitting to the right of someone who may have COVID 19, you will be continually exposed to their droplets as it continues flowing in the same pattern. This continuous exposure greatly increases your chances of contracting the virus.
But the big box stores, grocery stores, etc. haven’t shut off their A/C!
While this is true, there are fundamental differences between the airflow, operation, and usage of these spaces that does not equate to our church sanctuary. In one of these locations you are constantly moving and interacting with different airflow and people. While this increases the number of possible infectious people you meet, your contact with them is relatively short and the transfer of the virus is limited. In our sanctuary, you are sitting in one location for approximately one hour. If someone near you or upstream in your airflow is contagious, you have a much higher chance of contracting the virus, as the concentration of the virus in your vicinity is much greater.
Additionally, these large stores generally pull air from high above anyone and push air down and away. In our sanctuary, the air flows from below and just above members, spreading horizontally across the space. The store systems also provide fresh outside air to change all the air in the space over a relatively short period of time. Our system does not provide any fresh air.
What are we doing about it?
There are air cleaning systems that can reduce the possibility of spreading the virus (and other contaminants) through the sanctuary. This UV-C system has been approved by the Board of Trustees and funded by a donor. We are waiting for the equipment to arrive in approximately 3-5 weeks. Once it is received and installed, we can then turn the air conditioning system back on.
In the meantime, we are “cold soaking” the building to 62-65*F before each service, and shutting it down just before people are allowed to enter the building. This has kept the building cool for the duration of the service.
But what if I’m not concerned about contracting the virus?
We need to remember that in Christian love for our neighbors there will be conveniences we need to give up, and additional protections required to keep everyone safe. Turning off the air conditioner does not prevent you from worshiping with your church family.
On Saturday June 13th at 7:00 PM and Sunday June 14th at 10:00 AM we will have the first communion since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. In addition to the safety procedures laid out previously, the following details are important for these communion services which will occur on the 2nd and 4th weekends.
We are excited to announce that we will begin opening the sanctuary for in-person attendance on May 30th at 7:00 PM and May 31st at 10:00 AM. In order to do so safely there will be additional requirements that everyone must follow.
The pastors of the Frankenmuth Circuit met via Zoom on May 12, 2020. They discussed the current situation relating to COVID-19 and also the Executive Orders by the governor. The Circuit Visitors had a meeting the day prior with representatives of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) legal team. It is their legal opinion that the Executive Orders (EO) exempt places of worship from the ban for public gathering. Of course, proper social distancing and other safety measures should be followed. We would not be in violation of the EO nor subject to any penalty when we choose to return to the sanctuary for worship.
The Michigan District of the LC-MS allows for decisions to be made relative to the situation in one’s own area. As a result of this, the Frankenmuth Circuit pastors want to be working in conjunction with each other as much as possible. We came up with the goal of regathering on Pentecost Sunday the weekend of May 30-31. This has wonderful symbolism as the Holy Spirit brought many together as believers, and it is after the EO ending on May 28th. Although there could be an extension of present restrictions, we believe we can move forward as explained to the Circuit Visitors by ADF. Each congregation will need to proceed as their circumstances and facilities allow. If a congregation starts earlier or later, this does not mean they are in defiance to this group proposal.
We are excited to announce that we will begin opening the sanctuary for in-person attendance on May 30th at 7:00 PM and May 31st at 10:00 AM. In order to do so safely there will be additional requirements that everyone must follow. Please read the details to find out how you can participate and keep our community of believers safe during this time.
We will be continuing to live stream our 10:00 AM service for those who wish to stay home at this time.
Additional and updated information will be added directly to this page. Please review this page for the latest announcements.
If you are interested, additional information on the history of this decision is available.