COVID-19: Our Response

April 3, 2022 We have made some adjustments to our system of entry on Sunday mornings.  Rather than having a Health & Hospitality minister at the door keeping a list of all who enter, we are resuming the use of attendance sheets (“pew pads”) in the pews.

However, moving to a time of greater personal freedom means several important responsibilities for those who attend worship:
  • Please take a moment during the announcements to sign in on the pew pads, including the names of all family members present (not just “The ______ Family”).  You will be given a moment to do this at the start of worship.
  • If you are new or new-ish to St. Peter’s, please include your contact information.  This is how we will be notifying you if there is a COVID exposure in worship, so you can make informed choices on behalf of your family and friends who might be more vulnerable.
  • If you test positive for COVID later in the week, please notify the church office as soon as possible.

The Health & Hospitality ministers will be transitioning to more of a hospitality role while we get used to this new way of doing things.  Thank you for helping us all do our part to keep community transmission low and bring us out of the pandemic without going backwards!

March 15, 2022 In accordance with the new CDC guidelines for communities, and after monitoring positivity rates in our area since the local schools returned from midwinter break, Council voted to make masks optional for entry to St. Peter’s.

If you have reason to believe you may have been exposed to COVID, or if you are unvaccinated, we kindly request that you wear a mask, but it is not required.  Of course, anyone who chooses to continue wearing a mask is welcome to do so.

Masks are still required for the following:
  • Entry to the church office during office hours (Tuesday-Friday 9 am-2 pm)
  • Narthex and fellowship hall areas during a Red Cross blood drive, since we function as a health care facility during those times
February 15, 2022 As the COVID surge in our area appears to be subsiding, we will resume holding coffee hour after worship beginning on Sunday, February 20, 2022.  Participants are kindly asked to wear their masks until seated in the fellowship hall, and then put their mask back on after they are finished eating and drinking.  You are also welcome to socialize in the narthex with masks on.  (On Sundays when Confirmation class meets in the fellowship hall, coffee will only be offered “to-go”.)

While the state of New York has dropped the mask mandate for businesses, we continue to require masks for everyone entering the building at this time.  The CDC still categorizes both Oneida and Madison Counties as high transmission zones.  We will be re-evaluating this policy in the coming months.
January 2, 2022 During the current surge in new COVID cases in our area, we are temporarily pausing coffee hour after worship.  Coffee will only be available to go until further notice.
December 19, 2021 We are slowly introducing a few more opportunities for congregational singing into worship. For those who prefer to err on the side of safety, chairs will continue to be available for socially distanced seating in the narthex. The usher can help you get settled there and there are speakers to hear the service.  Social distancing continues to be encouraged but not required.

Adding more singing means it is even more important that we continue to wear masks and ensure they fit well over your nose and mouth. In accordance with the New York state and Oneida County mandates and CDC guidance, we continue to require masks for entry into the building, regardless of vaccination status.

As case numbers rise, please remember that if you feel ill at all or have potentially been exposed to COVID, we recommend that you stay home and worship with us via livestream.

October 31, 2021 As the weather turns chillier, we are making the following adjustments to coffee hour, as follows:
  • On Sundays without Confirmation class: Coffee and snacks will be offered in the fellowship hall.  Those who wish to eat and drink should get settled in their seats and then may remove their mask while eating and drinking.  Please put your mask on when you are finished and/or leaving the table.
  • On Sundays when there is Confirmation class at 11:30 am in the fellowship hall: Coffee will be offered “to go” style in disposable cups.  To keep clean up simple, snacks will not be offered these Sundays.

On all Sundays, everyone is welcome to socialize in the narthex with masks on, or outside (weather permitting) with masks off.

August 22, 2021 Due to the recent jump in transmission rates in our area, we have decided to follow the CDC recommendations and adjust our protocol.  As of August 22, 2021, everyone entering our building will once again be required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.  (You can check the latest numbers here.)

At this time, we will not be making any other changes to worship.  Social distancing is encouraged but not required.

For small indoors gatherings where everyone is fully vaccinated and the usual activities include eating and drinking (i.e. Breakfast with the Bible and Seniors), masks may be removed when you are at your table.  Please put your mask on whenever leaving your table.  Individuals are encouraged to decide for themselves whether they are comfortable assuming the additional risk of eating and drinking indoors with others.

August 9-13, 2021 We are making plans to hold a modified Vacation Bible School this week of August.  Pre-registrations are required for our safety plan.
July 27, 2021 Fully vaccinated church groups may eat meals together in the fellowship hall.  This includes the Wednesday senior group and the Tuesday morning Bible study.  Groups that are of mixed vaccination status should refrain from eating together inside.
July 11, 2021 Because our average percentage of vaccinated worshippers has been above 70%, we will begin limited singing in worship starting on July 11, 2021.  We will sing only at the end of worship and those who wish to leave early may do so.  We will also be introducing a fully vaccinated choir in the coming weeks, following the CDC guidelines for activity risk.
June 20, 2021 As New York has dropped many of its required COVID safety restrictions, we have made the following changes to our policy, effective June 20, 2021:
  • All pews will be available for first-come, first-serve seating on Sunday morning.  Additional chairs will be available in the narthex for those who prefer to space themselves out a little more.
  • Sign-in during the week is no longer required.
  • We continue to work on further changes to our policy to introduce more elements back into worship.  You can help this process by voluntarily letting us know if you’ve been vaccinated.  Stay tuned for more.

Please note that the mask requirements are the one thing that New York did not drop, so we will continue asking those who are unvaccinated to wear a mask inside the building.  Those who have been vaccinated may choose to remove their masks.  Thank you for your continued cooperation!

May 30, 2021 In accordance with recommendations from the CDC and New York state, and in consideration of those who are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, our COVID safety protocol was altered as follows:
  • People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 now have the choice of removing their masks when they enter the building.  Those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will need to continue wearing a mask in our building.  Please note that these guidelines depend on everyone’s participation in the honor system.  Temperatures will no longer be taken at the door.
  • We will continue to request worship reservations by Friday at 1 pm, but they are not required.  You will not be taking someone else’s spot if you come without a reservation!
  • Seating in the sanctuary will be first come, first serve.  Seats will no longer be assigned.  We will continue roping off every other pew to help make social distancing possible for those who want or need it.  Chairs will also be available in the narthex for those who wish to spread out a little more.
  • Socializing will take place outside after the service.  (Pray for good weather!)
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you are unvaccinated and have been exposed to COVID-19, please err on the side of caution and stay home!

As we look toward resuming other higher-risk activities in the future, we are also inviting those attending worship to voluntarily let us know if they have been vaccinated.  This will help us better assess the overall risk factor for the congregation.  Just contact Kathy in the office or let the outside greeter know when you arrive for worship.  This is purely voluntary; you may choose to not share this information if you wish.

April 25, 2021 We made some small changes to our COVID safety protocol, including opening all restrooms for single-use only and replacing the pew cushions.
April 11, 2021 After drive-in worship services in our parking lot for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, we began gathering again for in-person worship in our sanctuary with all the same safety protocol in place as before, according to the letter sent in July of 2020.  This 10:00 am Sunday morning worship service includes required masks, assigned seating, and RSVP required by Friday at 1:00 pm.  You may refer to the letter (COVID-19 update July 2020) for a complete listing of the protocol.

Worship will continue to be offered online on YouTube and Facebook (premiering at 9:00 am Sunday morning).

March 16, 2021 We began gathering in person again, in small groups for things such as Bible study.  All previous COVID safety protocol remained in place.
November 23, 2020 Due to the expected rise in cases after Thanksgiving, as well as the rise in numbers in Oneida County, Council voted to hit “pause” on gathering in person in the church building.  This means in-person worship, Bible study, and meetings are currently suspended, starting Sunday, November 29.

Worship will continue to be offered online on YouTube and Facebook (premiering at 9:00 am Sunday morning).

While the building is not closed, we are only allowing one individual or household to be in the same space at the same time (and they should be spaced out as much as possible, ideally 24 hours apart).  Please contact the office for scheduling if you need assistance or need access to the church building, and sign in on the clipboard whenever you enter or exit.

October 13, 2020 We began offering in-person gatherings for Bible study and Council meetings in the fellowship hall once again.  Gatherings limited to one hour and participants must wear masks and socially distance.  We adopted a guideline of 24 hours between activities in the same space, in order to allow droplets to settle and surfaces to be sanitized.
July 12, 2020 We altered our worship service schedule to be as follows:

9:00 am Online Worship on our YouTube channel and Facebook page (including singing, best for those who have health risks or cannot wear a mask)
10:00 am In-Person Worship in our sanctuary (condensed with no singing)

  • Masks and social distancing (through assigned seats) required
  • RSVP required by 1:00 pm on the Friday before
  • Full details are in this letter we sent to the congregation: COVID-19 update July 2020
March 20, 2020 In accordance with the state of New York’s stay at home order, we closed our building and suspended all building use.  The office remained open remotely.  Full details are in this letter we sent to the congregation: COVID-19 update March 2020
March 15, 2020 Following recommendations from our bishop John Macholz and the lead of Oneida County, we suspended in-person worship services and moved to offering Sunday worship completely online.

Letter that was sent to the congregation, July 2020:

Letter that was sent to the congregation, March 2020:

Related Links:

New York State’s coronavirus information page (https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/home)
The ELCA public health page (https://elca.org/publichealth)
The Upstate NY Synod public health page (https://upstatenysynod.org/public-health-concern)