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Rev: September 16, 2020

Guiding Principles


The leadership of St. Stephen have determined that our first priority is the safety of our worshiping community and those who use our facilities and services. We will err on the side of love of neighbor and seek to protect the most vulnerable among our community while maximizing the ability of those who wish to gather face to face. Knowing the current public health crisis is not over and may ebb and flow in severity we recognize that change will be inevitable and flexibility and patience the backbone of our plans.


We base our guidance on peer reviewed scientific sources (i.e. CDC and IL Department of Health) and legally binding government orders as well as information from ELCA synod and national offices and our insurance carrier.


Disclaimer: While every effort will be made to protect persons entering St. Stephen facilities and/or participating in events at St. Stephen we cannot guarantee that these efforts will totally protect an individual from disease or that individuals entering the premises have followed CDC and government guidelines related to COVID-19. Each person must make decisions about their own safety.




Cleaning- Every space used will be cleaned after each use using CDC approved cleaning supplies, and guidance.


Fellowship/Coffee Hour: There will not be coffee hour during the public health crisis. Please limit social gathering – at a safe distance – to the outdoor spaces.


Containing the Spread of Disease


At St. Stephen we are committed to containing the spread of the disease and providing protection to the most vulnerable members of our community.  We, as a community, will:

  • Maintain social distance of at least six feet between individuals.  We will refrain from hand-shakes, kissing, and hugs.

  • Masks: all persons entering the building are required to wear a mask.

  • Hand washing/hand sanitizing: All persons are encouraged to use hand sanitizer upon entering the building and to wash hands frequently.

  • Limit gathering time: Meeting and worship length will be kept to a minimum to reduce germ exposure. Socializing -at a safe distance- should happen in the outdoor spaces.

  • Intentional Cleaning: Every space used for a St. Stephen function will be cleaned using CDC approved products and methods after each use.


Decision Making Authority- Reduction of risk guidelines are developed by the Re-Opening Committee and approved by the Church Council.  In the event immediate action is needed, the Executive Committee will consult with the Pastor.


Entering the Building: All persons entering the building are required to wear a mask. All persons entering the building must sign the contact log located in the entrance way(s).  All persons should also sign out when exiting the building


Group Meetings: St. Stephen sponsored groups/teams should be polled regarding their desire to meet face to face. Whenever desired, groups will continue to meet via Zoom. Face-to-face group meetings should be limited to no more than 60 minutes and should not be more than 25 people. When groups do meet face to face, they must follow the appropriate guidelines related to contact logs, social distancing, face masks, restroom use, and cleaning of the space used. Group leaders should contact the office to reserve their space and time.  Groups should take attendance and maintain records of those in attendance.  Groups are responsible for cleaning following their meeting.


Restrooms: An usher will control the flow of traffic into the restrooms. Household groups – gender specific – may enter the restrooms together, otherwise one person at a time in the restroom. Surfaces will be cleaned between each restroom use.


Sickness: If a member is ill, they are asked to remain at home until they feel better. Members of St. Stephen will be notified if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has participated in worship or a St. Stephen sponsored event and given instructions to protect their own health and that of their family.


Social Distancing: Maintain a distance of 6 feet apart when in the church building and office space. Be patient with people who move more slowly and resist the urge to crowd them or pass. No handshakes, hugging, or kissing.





The council believes that joining in community for worship is vital to the health, both spiritual and emotional, of the congregation.  We are committed to having a safe in-person worship experience while continuing to ensure those who are unable to attend in-person worship can continue to join together in community via Zoom.  We will continue to reevaluate in-person worship to ensure safety and inclusivity.


  • Attendance will be limited to 25 worshipers, in addition to worship leaders, tech. crew, musician, and ushers. 

  • Reservations are required: Attendees are asked to make an on-line reservation, or to call/email the church office to make a reservation. 

    • Online reservations can be made on Link will also be available on our Facebook page. 


  • Entry and exit of the building during worship will be through the main doors only. These doors will be propped open. A welcome station will be located at entrances where people will be checked in and name recorded on an attendance log.  They will have their temperature taken, be reminded of the health status questions, offered hand sanitizer, and reminded to wear a mask and/or be provided with a mask. 

    • If a person has a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, they will not be admitted out of a desire to keep the community safe.


  • Ushers will direct congregants to their seats.  People may only sit in areas designated as seats.  Do not stop to socialize on the way to your seat. Do not congregate in the narthex.  Follow directions of the ushers.

    • Seating: Household groups may sit together a minimum of 6 feet from others. Ushers will escort worshipers to their seats to maintain social distancing.  


  • Singing: Singing creates a “super spreader” danger. A cantor and musicians will provide music during face to face worship but there will be no congregational singing.


  • Group recitation: Likewise, saying responses together as a worshiping community creates as “super spreader” danger. Please say the responses, prayers and creeds silently


  • Hymnals have been removed from the sanctuary.  Liturgy will be made available for printing at home prior to the service, and will be projected on the screen for those in attendance, or people can bring printed copies of worship materials which will be sent home.


  • Sharing the Peace-- will not be offered in person and we will not leave our seats. When sharing  the Peace we will wave, and offer each other signs of Peace.


  • Communion: We will follow the guidance of the ELCA synod regarding distribution of communion.  We will use pre-packaged contactless Communion elements.


  • Offering: A plate will be provided at the rear of the sanctuary to deposit your offering. Other options include mailing in your offering, or giving electronically.


  • Restrooms: An usher will control the flow of traffic into the restrooms. Household groups – gender specific – may enter the restrooms together, otherwise one person at a time in the restroom. Surfaces will be cleaned between each restroom use.


  • Exiting worship: Ushers will dismiss the congregation starting in the rear of the church.  Maintain a 6-foot distance between household groups. Do not linger in the building to chat. Exit using the main entrance.

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