As we prepare to return to weekly, in-person worship, WellSprings is hosting two “sneak preview” services at the Montgomery School, at 10am on August 15th and again on September 5th.
You may be curious about the specific precautions we’re taking, as we gather. Below you’ll find all the guidelines for our August 15th service. The time off before we gather again on September 5th will allow us to reassess local pandemic conditions, and whether these guidelines are still appropriate to meet them.
Q: Are masks required?
A: Yes. Every person over the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask indoors. Aside from children under 2, the only exception to universal masking will be for our musicians, preachers, and worship leaders, who may choose to remove their masks when leading worship from the stage.
Q: Is WellSprings asking for proof of vaccination?
A: Yes, for some, but not for all attendees. We are requiring proof of vaccination for all paid staff, for all volunteers in YouthSpirit or the Nursery, and for all those listed above (preachers, worship leaders, and musicians) who might remove their masks when leading worship from the stage.
Q: Will Bell Hall be packed full?
A: No. We are planning for limited attendance at these first two services, and spacing seats to allow for some degree of social distancing. The first row of chairs at the front of Bell Hall will be set back 10 feet away from the stage. We are also removing every other row of chairs, and there will be fewer chairs in each row. We plan to open as many windows as we can, prop doors, and run the overhead fans as well.
Q: Can we bring food or drink inside?
A: No. At the moment, we are not allowing food or drink inside Bell Hall. We will set up for an outdoor Coffee Hour after the 10am service, on the patio in front of Bell Hall.
Again, the only exception to no food or drink will be for our speakers and musicians who need to protect their voices to lead worship. You may see them sip water or tea during our gathering.
Q: Are we passing the hats?
A: No. We will still open space for generosity during the service, and will offer instructions for giving by text message, on your mobile device. We will also have boxes available on the patio outside of Bell Hall for you to give by cash or check.
Q: Are we offering a time to greet one another, in the service?
A: Yes. Please feel free to stay seated during the greeting time, as a sign that you wish to keep distance from others. If you choose to rise and greet others, always ask before approaching, touching or hugging. Remember that it’s okay to say “no, thank you” or “I’m not hugging yet,” and that there are lots of options besides hugging for greeting each other warmly: you can offer an eager wave, a hand on the heart, a bow of the head, or an elbow bump.
Q: How will YouthSpirit work? What about the Nursery?
Children age 5-12 will join us in Bell Hall for the beginning of the service, then will be invited to join YouthSpirit. YouthSpirit will be held outdoors as long as weather permits. If indoors, we will gather in the Dining Hall to allow for a more distanced, open space and better airflow.
All children will be required to mask while in YouthSpirit, whether indoors or outdoors. Socially-distanced, outdoor mask breaks may be offered during supervised program time. We encourage families to consider keeping kids masked at all times while on the campus.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of volunteers for this second in-person service, there will still be no Nursery on September 5th. This fall, we hope to offer Nursery space, outdoors when weather permits, and when our staffing is sufficient to safely care for our youngest WellSpringers. Staffing will also determine if we can offer care for both groups of children – age 2-5 (who are masked), and under 2yo (babies and toddlers under 2 do not mask and will be cared for in a separated space).
For the time being, we do not plan to offer online YouthSpirit at 9am on the Sundays we gather in person. We are exploring other options to help younger WellSpringers connect from home, including at-home packets. Please let our YouthSpirit Director, Carol Breslin, know if your family is interested in these at-home options, for the coming year.
Q: Can I still attend online, from home?
A: Yes! Our online services will continue, but be prepared for them to look and feel a little different. At 10am, a live video and audio stream of what’s happening in Bell Hall will be available on our YouTube channel. The live chat will still be available during the service, and we will continue to hold an online Coffee Hour on Zoom at 11am.
This effort is requiring all of us to learn new skills, so we appreciate your patience. Soon we hope to have more interactive options, including Coffee Hour “stations” where in-person and online attendees can connect with each other… stay tuned!
Regathering is so exciting – but in some ways, it’s also challenging. The mix of the familiar with the new will likely have us feeling things that are all over the map, on Sunday mornings. We’ve been and continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in different ways, and yet each of us deserves to be held by our spiritual community as we navigate these new changes.
Know that your Ministers and Staff, leaders, and volunteers will continue to do our best with the resources we have available to us. The Board and the Staff all welcome your feedback, just as much as we appreciate your grace and understanding. It is the strength of our connections, and our kindness as we tend to them, that charges us full and brings meaning and joy to our community at WellSprings.
Whether you join us online or in-person, we can’t wait to be with you, this Sunday morning!