Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.
Your Mt. Carmel Church Council is excited to share that as of Sunday, July 4, Mt. Carmel returned to in-person 9:30 am Sunday Worship Service in the Mt. Carmel Sanctuary! This is in addition to the Sunday 11 am indoor service currently being offered in the Mt. Carmel Great Room. Further good news is that recent data, improved vaccination rates, and the ending of all state restrictions reassure us that we may safely loosen many of our current COVID protocols in both services.
Currently, masks and social distancing are no longer required and congregational singing will be allowed. At the same time, we must continue to care for the more vulnerable among us. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine and some of our members have medical conditions that make receiving the vaccine inadvisable. In order to minimize risk, we highly encourage every unvaccinated person over the age of five to wear a mask and to social distance if possible.
We will be using pew pads so everyone can sign in at each service to provide contract tracing if needed and to give everyone an opportunity to update or provide their contact information so we can keep connected. We will also continue to offer pre-packaged Communion elements and to encourage diligent hygiene measures such as using hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving the building. Anyone who is unwell should remain at home and, if possible, join us in worship through Zoom at our 9:30 am service.
In a nutshell, the worship schedule that started on July 4 is:
9:30 -10:30 am: In-Person Worship Service in the Mt. Carmel Sanctuary with synchronous steaming via Zoom.
11 am-noon: In-person Worship Service in the Mt. Carmel Great Room.
As most of you know, Church Council is the representative body, in cooperation with our Pastor and church staff, responsible for determining how and when to reopen our church. We met on June 17 and discussed this topic at length. We considered government guidelines, Baltimore-Washington Conference advisories, Frederick County vaccination and positivity rates, and the advice of our own Home-Safe Team (which includes two medical professionals). In our discussion, we tried to strike a balance between our desire for fully normal operations and the need to protect from infection those who have been unable to be vaccinated.
The course we have outlined above is the best consensus we could produce for the present; the situation is highly fluid, however, and we will continue to monitor relevant data and update procedures as conditions warrant.
We cannot say enough thanks for the flexibility and perseverance that this congregation has demonstrated over the past year. We hope that simpler times are ahead, but this experience has shown us that we can remain strong in ministry whatever the future holds. Praise God!