An Update from the PoP Smart and Worship Planning Teams

Guidance from the Smart Team:

The Smart Team met recently to review our status and consider updated guidance from the CDC and State of Minnesota regarding continuing safety precautions related to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.  The Team acknowledged both the hopefulness attached to increasing access to vaccinations and but also the uncertain impact of increased virus variant spread.

First, we want to celebrate what we have accomplished over the past year and give thanks for the patience and support our community has shown throughout this challenging time.  Recognizing that we have intentionally maintained a conservative approach to our safety protocols and guidelines, we are pleased to report that there have remained zero reportable instances of community spread attributable to PoP ministry activities and operations.  While staff and students have experienced individualized cases of infection, the Caterpillar Learning Center has similarly experienced no known community spread from their operations.

It is clear that this pandemic is still far from over and while the full scope of its consequences will not be known for some time, we can begin the work of preparing for a return to expanded opportunities for in-person ministry.  Our goals remain to keep the full breadth of our community safe and to support our staff, volunteers and partners in carrying out their responsibilities as securely as possible.  With this in mind, we are recommending that many of our safety protocols remain in effect, including but not limited to:

  • Continued availability of remote connectivity for ministry activity.
  • Masking indoors and during outdoor gatherings.
  • Social distancing between different households.
  • Continued preferencing of outdoor gatherings.
  • Continued suspension of shared food and beverage service.
  • The southwest and northwest entry doors should remain for the exclusive use of the Caterpillar Learning Center 6am-6pm, Monday thru Friday.  PoP Ministry activities should be accessed through the main entry during these times.

Effectively immediately:

  • While contract tracing should continue for all those who enter our facilities, manual temperature check and recording can be suspended.  Thermometers will still be available to assist visitors in accurately responding to the symptom questionnaire.
  • Music ensembles rehearsal/recording time limits: 60 minutes indoors, no limit outdoors.

Effective April 12:

  • Capacity limits for the certain rooms will be increased:
    • Sanctuary & Gym – 40
    • Reception Room – 12
    • Library & Choir Room – 10
    • Classrooms – 8

Effective June 7:

  • Check-in monitoring and contact tracing may cease.
  • Capacity limits for certain rooms will be increased:
    • Sanctuary & Gym – 80
    • Reception Room – 20
    • Library & Choir Room – 12
    • Note: Required social distancing between households may limit actual occupancy limits.
  • In-person indoor worship on Sundays would be allowable.

All other previously established safety protocols not specifically addressed here will remain in effect.

Guidance from the Worship Planning Team:

The worship planning and leadership team has further advised that they are preparing for weekly outdoor worship in the parking lot on Sunday mornings at 10am beginning Sunday, May 23 (weather permitting). Pre-recorded worship videos will continue to premier at 8:30am and the 10am service will be a reprise of the same or similar content. 

Following the guidance of the Smart Team, this would initiate a potential return to in-person indoor worship on Sunday, June 13.  At this time, we would hold an indoor service at 8:30am followed by an outdoor service at 10am through the end of August.  Remote or virtual participation will continue to be available with an eventual transition to live-streaming and recording for future viewing.

The return to in-person indoor worship will also be predicated with the following conditions:

  • Primary worship leaders have received vaccinations and have completed the necessary waiting periods to achieve full protective efficacy.
  • Congregational singing be suspended but soloists and small ensembles may lead the congregation in song.
  • Length of indoor worship be limited to 60 minutes, including time to gather and depart (service length would be approximately 45 minutes).
  • Additional adaptations to liturgical elements like communion will be necessary.
  • Any pre & post-service fellowship will be limited to outdoors.

As with so much we have had to consider over the past year, we will continue to hold somewhat loosely onto these timelines and will continue to monitor the guidance of our federal and state public health officials. Please direct any questions to the office or contact Pastor Peter directly.