Reopening Update

May 27, 2020

Ministry Updates

The Next Normal Task Team plan will be a phased approach using these guiding principles:

  • Governor Holcomb’s direction for Indiana and Mayor Hogsett’s for Indianapolis
  • The advice and direction from Bishop Trimble, the Indiana Conference UMC leader
  • Honoring St. Luke’s Mission to be fully open for all, which includes offering ministry for all ages and not having to discourage any part of our population from attending.

Each stage outlined by the Governor is dependent on evidence that we have successfully blunted the spread of the virus and accomplished the goal of each of the 5 stages he outlined. This document shares Phase I of St. Luke’s plan with the hope of offering more phases as we take into account the latest information and requests from officials related to reopening of churches.

St. Luke’s Phase 1: May 18 – June 14, 2020 

  • All those entering the church will practice 6-foot social distancing, wear a face mask, perform hand hygiene upon entering the building and after each contact with high-touch surfaces
  • Staff will return to work in a phased-in manner, adopting a combination of working remotely and at the church. Exceptions will include those essential to volunteering for worship and Ministry work being led by our staff
  • Children and Youth programming will continue online as in March and April
  • Starting June 1 the church will be open to classes, small groups and small volunteer teams of less than 25 people (this does not include outside groups/organizations)
  • Meals and food will not be provided or served during this phase
  • The facilities staff will implement new cleaning and sterilization procedures during this time

Based on the survey results of our congregation and consultation with health officials, we believe that waiting to resume in-person worship is currently the right decision. Many of you who feel at highest risk have told us that you would need to stay away and those with children have shared that their top priority is to school to resume in the fall - and they would rather we wait to ensure that happens. 

As we continue to evaluate this decision and communicate with you the following principles continue to guide us:

  • The safety of our community (Wesley's first rule was to, "Do No Harm.")
  • Our value of Openness - our hope is to resume worship in such a way that we don't have to turn people away at the door (Ex. for size of gatherings). It's not who we are.
  • Our ability to offer a great in-person worship experience (For example, right now we can have very few people in our worship spaces, no doughnuts, and have questions about congregational singing.) These factors make what we can do online far superior.

We continue to hear positive feedback for our online worship and offerings. Know that we are also evaluating creative options for worship that are in person but safe. Examples include drive up communion on Sunday, June 7 from 2-3:30PM and the possibility of outdoor worship at a site like Conner Prairie. 

  • The St. Luke’s Care Team will continue to be on-call and available over the phone for the needs of our congregation who call the Emotional and Spiritual Hotline at 317-846-3406 until we are physically back in the building or until hospitals and care facilities allow us to visit.
  • Prayer requests may be submitted, look for the “Prayer Requests” button in the footer of any page on our website. During this period:
  • The Care Team will follow the guidelines of hospitals and care facilities and resume visitation when allowed.
  • We will continue performing funerals of up to 25 people through May. That number will increase June 1, when more people are allowed in the building. No visitation or food will be allowed at that time. Masks will be required.
  • We will resume performing weddings when the building is reopened.
  • Care groups will meet online. Select groups will convene if able to follow guidelines of social distancing, wear masks and no more than 25 people are gathered.
  • For death, imminent death or tragic events, call the pastor on call through the church’s phone number, 317-846-3404, following the prompts provided.

1. What are the greatest needs? 

  • Food insecurity
  • Unemployment
  • Access to technology and quality healthcare
  • Domestic Violence increasing
  • Housing instability

This is will continue for a while – it may take a year to play out. We will be mindful of those who are not tech-savvy and will continue to engage older individuals.

2. We are blessed with many assets that we can leverage to make a difference.

  • Benevolence Fund: over $100,000 raised
  • Partners: Outreach Inc., Family Promise, major event relationships
  • Crooked Creek Food Pantry
  • Tutors

3. What current programming do we need to change and how?

  • Large scale events, such as Back to School Extravaganza and I Love My City, that would typically occur in the coming months may need to be reimagined or postponed. How could they change? Offered in stages? With chrome books? At each school with social distanced volunteers? A drive through model?

4. We have several new initiatives that have made A real impact during this period.

  • Signed Sealed & Delivered – 224 volunteers writing letters to the homebound
  • Homebound Helpers – 57 volunteers delivering groceries or necessities
  • Drive through pantry - 178 families have received food boxes
  • Delivering Hope – 58 volunteers delivering food to Washington Township students and their families
  • Virtual Tutoring - 35 tutors working through Luke’s Leaders
  • Sew in Love - 400+ masks sewn and delivered to essential workers

5. How will we equip volunteers differently?

All St. Luke’s volunteers will be required to wear gloves and masks while serving on or off site as we keep the safety of everyone a top priority. Providing bandanas or masks may become a possibility. We will recruit younger volunteers to protect volunteers in an at-risk age group and we will use the guidance of the Governor and Mayor to inform our policies and activities.

6. What's next?

Our team members and volunteers will continue to reach out to assigned partners and organizations to assess their needs and our ability to respond. We will also be readjusting our priorities based on recommendations from the Worship and Facilities re-entry teams. For information on how you can be involved with any of these projects please visit our Luke’s Online page of the website. 

Adult Discipleship Ministry

  • We will be offering low-commitment invitations so online viewers can connect with us through online opportunities such as Starting Point (offered more frequently), Netflix and Chat and Wednesday Night Theology Talks.
  • We will also continue to create online sermon discussion groups and various check-in groups.
  • Fellowship groups such as volleyball or pickle ball may be paused for the fall and be reassessed for spring of 2021 depending on social distancing needs at the time.
  • Wednesday Night Live programming will be dependent on and follow the overall food and gathering guidelines of the building. 
  • Fall classes and small groups may look very different this fall with a hybrid format that includes virtual groups.
  • Retreats and large events will return in the later phases of reopening with a Zoom-format discipleship retreat being investigated for the fall.  

Student (Middle School/High School) Ministry 

  • Transitions between grades in the fall are being re-evaluated and students may be kept in their current level to preserve existing relationships with peers and Small Group Leaders. 
  • Small groups may continue to meet over the summer while including social distancing if necessary.
  • A phased plan is being created to move towards meeting in person, based on the larger St. Luke’s plan and the guidelines of local government officials.
  • Confirmation plans are stilled being worked out for both the 2020 and 2021 class.
  • Retreats and large events will return in two phases: Phase One will occur online. Phase Two will occur online or in person in small groups (backyard BBQs, Huddles with Heather, etc.) as restrictions are lessened.
  • All programming will follow St. Luke’s building use policies for food and numbers of people allowed in restricted spaces. 

Children’s Ministry 

  • Many questions are being researched as the health and safety of our children and families remain our top priority. Consideration is being given to scheduling specific worship times for families with children, providing childcare during services with necessary precautions, children returning to the sanctuary and organizing small, in- home worship groups for families.
  • Vacation Bible School is happening virtually this year, during the week of June 8 and a possible VBS over winter break is being considered.
  • 3rd grade Bibles will be held on a Saturday this year and will not have an overnight component.

Local school decisions will help inform this planning. While sanitizing policies were already in place, these efforts are being increased. Masks will be worn by volunteers and smaller class sizes may be implemented. Registrations and drop-offs may be altered and involve parents not entering the classroom and a well-child check. Our “if you are sick” policies will continue to be enforced. All CDC and local government guidelines will be followed.

See the Results of the Congregational Reopening Survey