Worship times will be 8:30am and 11:00am in the Sanctuary These worship times recommended by Congregation Council were found to be favorable by the congregation, with some noting a need to change their Sunday morning pattern. Physical distancing will be in place in the sanctuary with every other row in use. These services will be full liturgies with Holy Communion and music. Music will be led by the choir only. At this time, we will not resume congregational singing of hymns and liturgy. A majority of respondents to our fall survey were in favor of allowing the choir to lead music without the congregation’s participation; as the act of singing moves more air than speaking, which makes singing more dangerous. Our choir members will be masked as well, and all musicians will provide proof of vaccination before rehearsing.
Worship will be live-streamed at 11:00 am Many wish to remain online for their health and safety, and we affirm this choice. Digital ministry isn’t going anywhere and our Wellstream service at 11:00 am will allow those at home to worship alongside our gathered community for a service of Holy Communion. When worshipping at home, you are welcome to receive Holy Communion. We invite you to have bread and wine/grape juice ready before the service. However, as we believe within the Lutheran tradition that “Holy Communion takes place in the assembly,” and specifically that “the gathered people of God celebrate the sacrament,” we ask that you only partake of the sacrament if you are worshipping with us LIVE at 11:00 am. While the services will be available on playback through our Facebook Page and YouTube Channel, we ask that you only commune with the gathered assembly at 11:00 am and not later during the week.
Well-fitted masks will be required for all in-person worshippers, regardless of vaccination status While the CDC lifted the mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals, many health officials are revising that position in light of the high transmissibility of the Delta variant. Masks are a way we protect those around us, and we will continue this practice of care. This practice will be especially important as we wish to create a worship space that is as safe as it can be for those under 5 who cannot be vaccinated yet.
Communion will still be offered in its current prepackaged form Over the summer of 2021, we began using a prepackaged container with both bread and wine during our indoor and outdoor services. While this practice of using prepackaged elements and receiving the eucharist in our seats may feel unfamiliar, it is safer at the moment than our familiar process. Worshippers will have the opportunity to process to the front of the sanctuary to receive the elements and then return to their seats to partake. Those that are unable to walk forward will be brought elements by the Lay Assisting Ministers.
SAAM's: Sunday Afternoons at Muhlenberg
Afternoon outdoor services will be offered twice a month. Even with all the practices outlined above, some families, especially those with children under 12, may not feel comfortable worshipping indoors yet. We also recognize that, throughout the summer, some folks have realized they really like worshipping outdoors and would enjoy continuing that this fall. With that in mind, we will offer outdoor services at 1:30 pm twice a month in a format similar to our Summer 10:00 am service. Some of these services will have a special focus, like a Blessing of the Animals, but these will be services with Holy Communion and the added safety of gathering outdoors. In order to best steward the time and resources of our congregation, it is not possible to offer this service weekly on Sunday mornings, but we hope this service will be a meaningful addition to your family’s worship plans.
SAAM Worship Schedule, 1:30 pm: - September 19 - October 3, Blessing of the Animals - October 17 - November 7 - November 21
In line with our Strategic Plan, a dedicated Christian Formation hour has been established so that our call to growth and learning is no longer competing with worship. From 9:45-10:45 am, join us for classes open to all ages. Adult classes will be offered with hybrid options for participants to join both in-person and via Zoom. In-person participants will have plenty of room to space out with physical distancing. Zoom participants can log in with the Sunday Mornings at Muhlenberglink: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84731416878
Pre-K to 5th Grade: MAC Main Room and Outside (weather permitting) Led by Children’s Minister Ashley Saunders, kids will have an opportunity to grow together through Holy Play: learning biblical stories, doing activities to put the stories into action, and building strong relationships. Older students will have the opportunity to help share the stories with younger students to cultivate a collaborative community.
Devotional Classics (formerly "40-Day Journey"): Nielsen Room An interactive class for adults of all ages, where participants read and discuss Christian literature. Facilitators: Mark and Jennie Warner
Faith Lens Adult Class: Kairos Room Participants read the Narrative Lectionary text for the day and discuss how we can live out and apply its message to our lives. Facilitator: Jean Helmick
BEYOND SUNDAY MORNING
6th-8th Grade Youth Group and Bible Study (Confirmation) Led by Karen Thomsen and Pastor Alex, our confirmands will grow together in their understanding of scripture, the Lutheran tradition, and what it means to live out our faith. A schedule will be created in consultation with students and their families. Check The Chimes weekly for more information.
High School Youth Group and Bible Study We are organizing leaders and reaching out to high school students to set a schedule and listen to needs for gathering to learn, grow, and care for each other. We’ll share more information about this in The Chimessoon!
Wednesday Morning Bible Study: 10:30 - 11:30am Based on the Narrative Lectionary, this class gathers each week to look ahead to Sunday’s lessons and dive deeper into God’s word. Led by Pastor Daniel Hess, this group will meet via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/200491556
Pastors’ Book Club: Wednesdays, 6:30pm Gather monthly to discuss a book with the Pastors. This will tentatively be offered only by Zoom, but this will be assessed closer to the first date. - October 6: The Grace of Dogsby Andrew Root - October 27: TBD - November 17: TBD
Choirs are open to all, even if you haven’t participated in the past. If interested, contact Music Minister Elizabeth Williams for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org 434-3496).
Celebration Singers: Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30pm, beginning September 7 All choir members must be fully vaccinated.
Sanctuary Choir: Wednesdays, 7:15 – 8:15pm, starting September 8 All choir members must be fully vaccinated.
Cherub Choir: Tuesdays, 5:30 – 6:00pm For ages 4 – grade 3, and led by Cherub Choir Director Rachel Peters (email@example.com or 570-975-5457). Pending Covid pandemic restrictions/ guidelines, rehearsals will begin in October and will be either in person or via Zoom.
Tweens and Teens: Sundays, 12:15-12:45pm For grades 6 - 8, led by Music Minister Elizabeth Williams. Pending Covid restrictions/ guidelines, rehearsals will begin in October with the possibility of meeting in person.
Gloria Dei Ringers: Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30pm, beginning September 7 Rehearsals will be in person and in the sanctuary. All members must be fully vaccinated to participate. Led by Handbell Director Kath Wissinger.
Thanks to the 2021 disbursements of the Mission Endowment Fund, “Phase 2” of our Wellstream initiative is here! Our live-streaming system has been installed, and will enable us to stream full worship services, live from the Sanctuary, starting September 12. This is a significant development in equipping Muhlenberg to reach our faith communities where they are - online or in person - so that we are bringing God’s story to as many as possible. In 2020, we learned that online services were not just good “alternatives” to in-person worship - they helped create a whole new way to engage with and grow our faith community. With our new live-streaming system, we’ll be able to operate as a truly hybrid church, returning to full worship in the Sanctuary, while providing those online with a rich and full worship experience.
The new streaming system includes three high-resolution remote control digital cameras that are mounted inconspicuously throughout the sanctuary; along with a switcher, dedicated laptop, and all necessary equipment to live-stream video. All of this will be run from the balcony of the church (next to the current soundboard). Our Communications Team spent countless hours researching the best solution that would meet our needs while keeping costs as low as possible and honoring the beautiful aesthetics of Muhlenberg. The result is an unobtrusive system that will allow us to replace our pre-recorded services with a live- stream of the 11:00 service each Sunday. This system also gives us the ability to simultaneously stream to a number of different platforms, including Facebookand YouTube. And, each live-stream will be automatically recorded. Our next steps include recruiting and training a team of operators, so that this process is sustainable. We look forward to this exciting new chapter in the life of our congregation!
Use these quick links to connect with Muhlenberg Lutheran Church and our staff!
While we certainly face challenges in the midst of these ever-changing times, we also have a great deal for which we can be thankful. I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve amongst this community that strives in so many ways to be a Wellspring of God’s Grace through living out our values of being Open + Authentic + Relational + Serving. I hope that this Fall schedule will illuminate ways that you and your family can claim your gifts and connect with our various means of equipping all people to live out Christ’s love.
I am excited for a fall season of community and connection, as we work to welcome new faces as well as reconnect with familiar ones. That joy, energy, and positivity found in connection was certainly felt by those who attended Equipping the Saints Day, and I look forward to more people feeling that sense through the fall. In the above information, you’ll find opportunities for worship (both in-person and digital), Christian Formation, music, fellowship, and service that will be happening this fall. Each of these is an opportunity to participate as fully as you and your family are able in worshipping our life-giving God and sharing God’s abundant gifts with our community.
In this season, if you are feeling disconnected, please reach out to me. Let’s talk about the ways that we can be there for one another and truly be community. I am grateful for Pastor Daniel Hess bringing his gifts and passion to Muhlenberg this fall through his Pastoral Support role. Please continue to keep Pastor Lauren in your prayers as she recovers on her extended medical leave. We look forward to welcoming her back as she’s ready, and I’m excited for her to see the ways the Holy Spirit is moving through this community when she returns. I’m looking forward to seeing you, hearing from you, and following God’s call together. I pray that wherever you’re worshipping from this fall--from the sanctuary, the parking lot, or the couch--you may feel the joyful presence of our generous and compassionate God, and respond with your own joy, generosity, and compassion for all we meet.
In Christ, Pastor Alex Zuber Associate Pastor
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church 281 East Market Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801