Sarah Stultz: What a joyous reunion it will be at church

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2020

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After more than three months without attending church at my local building here in Albert Lea, my congregation will be returning back to in-person services on Sunday.

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It’s hard to imagine what it will be like as even now, after some time away, I’m still used to the regular routines we used to have.

Right after we walk into the building, we are usually greeted by a close friend, who has been assigned to greet people as they come into the building. Not only does she hand out the bulletin with information about the worship service, but she is also known for giving out wonderful hugs. You usually can’t walk by her without a hug.

That’s one of the first things that will be different on Sunday, aside from all of the attendees wearing face masks as we come into the building and meet inside.

Typically, while we’re waiting, I can expect a few more handshakes and hugs from fellow members, as this church family of ours reunites after being apart for much of the week. While we’ll be able to talk to each other from the recommended distances, that physical interaction will not be able to take place.

Instead of being able to fill in every row in the sanctuary, we are being asked to sit in every other row to allow for proper distancing. Changes will also be implemented to ensure safety while the members partake of the sacrament each week.

While the  congregation normally participates in at least three or four songs together, on Sunday I have heard we will instead simply listen to the music instead of vocalizing the songs ourselves. Members can look up the songs on their own mobile devices instead of using the church’s hymnbooks to prevent any potential spread of COVID-19 as they follow along with the songs.

Our service is being shortened to 45 minutes, and we will not be having our various classes afterward as we have in the past.

There will also be stricter cleaning protocols in place.

It sure is going to be a different experience, but I have to admit I’m really looking forward to seeing our church family again, even though things will be much different than they were the last time I was in that building.

The members of my church aren’t family members by blood, but they have supported me like family over the years.  I’m anticipating Sunday will be like seeing a couple dozen long-lost family members or friends again for the first time.

All the safety measures will be worth it to be able to be with them all again.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.