Return to indoor worship

Dear Church,

As the weather gets colder, we are faced with a decision: do we return to indoor worship, or switch back to livestream only? We have decided that this Sunday, we will be returning to indoor worship for the first time since March 8th.

This decision was not made lightly. We continue to recognize COVID as a serious health risk and believe we have a responsibility not to endanger our neighbors. At the same time, we also recognize that the infection rate in Tolland county is currently low, area schools have at least partially reopened, and public health regulations permit us to meet provided we follow certain protocol. All things considered, we have decided to provide an option for indoor worship while also continuing to provide our livestream.

Several actions we will be taking to help mitigate risk:

(1) We will expect everyone to wear masks at all times that they are in the building (with the exception of small children, those who are preaching or giving announcements, and those who are vocally leading worship music).

(2) Those who are speaking or singing from the front without a mask will be positioned 12 feet from anyone in attendance.

(3) Seating will be positioned so that attendees can maintain social distance from those not in their household.

(4) Attendance will be limited to 50. Given our attendance at the last several outdoor meetings, we think this will be more than sufficient seating. If substantially more people want to attend in-person than are currently doing so, we will adjust and create a weekly reservation system.

(5) Windows will be cracked open and the ceiling fans will be on in order to increase air movement. Please dress accordingly, as it may be chilly.

(6) We will not be providing coffee and the office/cafe space will not be open.

(7) We are requesting that you refrain from hugs/handshakes.

(8) Communion will continue to be provided in individual containers.

(9) We will try to keep the service to an hour (less time means less risk of exposure).

(10) We will not be handing out bulletins, message notes, pens, or Bibles.

Some questions you might be asking...

(1) Will there be singing? Yes. We recognize that singing increases risk, but we think the other precautions we are taking (masks, ventilation, distancing) make the added risk low.

(2) Will there be children's church? Not the first week, but likely in the future.

We recognize that some will not feel comfortable attending. If so, or if you are vulnerable due to age or other health risk factors, we hope you will join us on livestream. As always, if you are feeling sick please stay home and rest.

We really miss being able to see all of you in-person, and we look forward to the day when we will be able to have a full house again and not worry about things like masks and distancing. In the meantime, we encourage you to stay connected to our community through the livestream and virtual small groups (if you want to be in a group and are not currently in one, email We will get through this!

Grace & Peace,

- Ryan & Keith

The Current situation

If you click on the links below, you can see data about coronavirus infections and fatalities in Connecticut. The trend – especially over the last month – has been good. On June 16th there were reportedly 114 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Connecticut. This is down significantly from a month prior, when 618 new cases were reported on May 16th, and even more significantly from the peak of 2,109 new cases reported on April 22nd.

We recognize that the threat of coronavirus is not over. But given the downward trend in cases and the governor's initiation of phase 2 of Connecticut's re-opening process, we believe now is an appropriate time to offer the option for in-person worship, provided that we alter our service in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

What to expect

Outdoor Worship - Experts are unanimous that the risk of transmission is much lower in open-air environments. Due to capacity limitations and CT guidelines set for Houses of Worship, we have decided to have our worship service outdoors at this time, weather permitting.

Parking - Parking will continue to be available in the main lot directly across from the Mills and in the overflow lot located across from the North lot. We will have our sandwich board, cones, and a greeter/crossing attendant available.

Physical Distance and Touch - We ask that everyone please respect a 6 ft physical distance from people outside of their household. As we come back together, we need to remember that things will be different, and everyone has a different take on all things COVID-19. We are asking that we all show one another grace. And so, for the comfort of everyone, please hold off from physical touch for now, and respect a 6 ft physical distance.

Masks - In order to ensure that everyone who attends our worship service feels safe and comfortable, and to alleviate cumbersome arrival/departure procedures, we are asking that you please wear a mask when entering and exiting the parking lot and common space.  Feel free to remove your mask once you are situated and physically distant from others. If you don't have a mask, we will have some on hand.

Outdoor Seating - Since we will be meeting outside, we ask that you bring a chair or a blanket to sit on. We will have some extra chairs, but those will be limited. If you know you will need a chair in advance, please email Pastor Keith.

Restrooms - The back door of The Mill Works will be open; once inside, proceed down the hall and you will see the restrooms in the hallway where the elevator is located. Please note, you must wear a mask when inside the building.

Sickness - If you, or anyone in your family, are experiencing signs of illness or fever the few days prior to service, we are asking that you stay home from service. Christ calls us to love our neighbor, and this is one of the ways we can do that.

Online - For the foreseeable future, you will continue to be able to worship with us virtually through our Facebook Livestream, which will also be available after service on our Youtube Page. We realize that everyone is in a different place in regard to their comfort level in larger gatherings, and respect that you are using your best judgment.

Inclement Weather - While we feel this location will work out well for us, the reality is we may run into rainy days. We will treat inclement weather like a heavy snow day. Any decision to cancel service will come Saturday evening/Sunday morning, and we will notify you through e-mail, text (if you are signed up for it through your online account) and our Facebook page. If we have to cancel, we will continue to worship online as we have been the past several months.

Order of Service/Message Notes - Our service will be shorter, as we will be eliminating a few elements. We will have some message notes/announcements and worship songs printed out and available as you enter our worship space.

Communion - We will continue to celebrate communion together each Sunday. If you plan on taking communion, we will be providing single-serve communion elements as you enter.

Sunday School - We will not be holding Sunday school at this time. Please bring some quiet activities for your child(ren) if that will be helpful to pass the time.

Offering - We continue to encourage online giving or sending offerings to the church office, but will also have a means by which to donate at our in-person service.

Prayer Requests - We will not have our open prayer request time, but ask that you send in any prayer requests to Pastor Ryan or Pastor Keith by the Friday prior to service. If anything urgent comes up between that time and Sunday, please let us know and we will include it in our pastoral prayer.