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HCLC Response to COVID-19

(as of August 26, 2021)

Holy Cross Lutheran Church Policy of Mask Wearing in the Time of COVID

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
I Corinthians 16: 13-14

Holy Cross Lutheran Church (HCLC) observes the mandates regarding indoor gatherings, including the wearing of masks, set forth by our local government officials (The Commonwealth of Virginia, and the County of Fairfax). For the sake of further caution and safety and with love and compassion for our neighbors, we may also implement stricter policies for HCLC gatherings. As of August 16, 2021, the following policies have been established
by the Congregational Council of HCLC:

At all HCLC sponsored gatherings that are held indoor open to the public – worship, fellowship events, etc. – masks are required for all participants. The exception for worship being that the worship leaders may unmask only while they are in the Chancel area since they are a safe distance away from the rest of the congregation.

Smaller HCLC meetings, such as committees, and other small gatherings (that are thereby not generally considered open to the overall public), may meet unmasked provided that all participants are vaccinated and agree to meet without masks. If one member is uncomfortable with being unmasked, all must be masked.

HCLC rents our facility to other groups that meet on a regular basis. Our agreement with them is that they abide
by county and state mandates. Currently, they are free to gather within those mandates without masks.

If a rental group and a HCLC group happen to be in the building at the same time, masks should be worn in passing
and physical distancing should be maintained.

This policy will be updated, changed, or dismissed as circumstances warrant.

(as of May 30, 2021)

In-person Worship to Resume at Holy Cross Lutheran Church

For 63 Sundays, Holy Cross Lutheran Church has offered worship solely on Facebook Live. We are elated to announce in addition to Facebook Live, HCLC will welcome in-person worshippers in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, beginning this Sunday, May 30, with a single service at 10:00 am! We currently plan a return to two services on Rally Day, September 12.

The Church Council did not make this decision lightly. A team of HCLC members, who are also medical professionals, provided the Church Council with a comprehensive report outlining current CDC guidelines for where we are in the pandemic today and in our local community. As of May 25, Fairfax County has a positivity rate of 1.5% and 55.6% are vaccinated (with at least one dose); Loudoun County has a positivity rate of 1.9% and 55.3% are vaccinated (with at least one dose). Given this information, the HCLC Worship and Music Team recommended to the Church Council that HCLC implement necessary COVID safety measures and resume in-person worship in the sanctuary on May 30, 2021. The Church Council unanimously approved this request.
In an abundance of caution, HCLC is requiring masks to be worn while inside the building for everyone ages 2 and up. (The CDC recommends ages 2 and up to wear masks when a mask requirement is in place.) Worship leaders may remove their masks when they are leading worship in the chancel, lectern, or pulpit, but all parishioners should remain masked, even when seated in a pew.

In accordance with CDC guidelines, HCLC will require social distancing of at least three feet while inside the building. Family units may sit together in worship. Please maintain a social distance during elements of worship like the Sharing of the Peace. Regardless of vaccination status, we ask that you simply wave from a distance when greeting others. Communion will be distributed in a COVID safe manner.

HCLC currently uses MERV-13 filters (rated to filter out particles that carry COVID-19) in the sanctuary HVAC system. In addition, there are two stand-alone air scrubbers in the sanctuary with MERV-13 filters.
During the pandemic, HCLC acquired new technology to allow for worship to be streamed on Facebook Live. HCLC will continue streaming worship on Facebook Live indefinitely. In addition to being a wonderful evangelism tool to bring the Word of God into the community, both locally and nationally, it will also allow those who may not be able or are not yet comfortable in public places to worship with HCLC at home. Everyone’s situation during the pandemic is different, and HCLC does not want anyone to feel pressured to attend in-person worship if that is not appropriate for you.

HCLC will begin offering a nursery with a vaccinated nursery attendant as soon as possible. We hope to have arrangements made with our nursery attendants to provide a COVID safe space for children by June 6. We appreciate your patience as we work these details out. Since children under 12 cannot be vaccinated at this time, it is critical that we spend more time creating a safe space for the nursery.

It is with gratitude to the leaders of HCLC who got us this far in the pandemic that we move forward towards normalcy. If it were not for the members of the COVID Worship Team, HCLC staff, Executive Committee, Church Council, and many other volunteers, HCLC would not be in a position today to welcome our community back into the sanctuary. Above all, we thank you, the members of HCLC, who have persevered through this pandemic and expressed patience as we worked out new ways to praise God.

If you have any questions about our current COVID-19 protocols, please contact: Pastor Martin, Jeremy Shoop, or Sam Carter.

Finally, we can’t tell you how great it is to once again say, we look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

In the name of the Great Physician who provides all we need,

Martin Eldred, Pastor
Jeremy Shoop, Director of Music and Liturgy
Sam Carter, President of the Congregation

(as of October 15, 2020)
While restrictions on worship have eased, the guidance from the Virginia Governor’s office is that members are still safer at home. With that in mind, Holy Cross will continue to provide Sunday morning worship services in an online format.

As we move forward with our COVID response we are offering worship in the sanctuary on Wednesday evenings. The safety precautions being taken are: medical grade air filters in the HVAC system, two stand-alone air purifiers in the aisle, sanitization of the sanctuary Tuesday evenings, 100% mask wearing, greater than six feet social distancing, no singing, no sharing of the peace and anyone with COVID symptoms is not to enter the building.

We appreciate your continued love, support, prayers and patience as we try to find ways to flourish in the current environment. If you have suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact the office or Deb Reilly at 202-359-7450!

(as of August 25, 2020)

While restrictions on worship have eased, the guidance from the Virginia Governor’s office is that members are still safer at home. With that in mind, Holy Cross will continue to provide Sunday morning worship services in an online format.

In September we will begin experimenting with an outdoor, mid-week worship series called “More Days for Praise!”. Wednesday evening services will be held outdoors, where worshippers can participate from within their car (via an FM radio signal), or in lawn chairs outside. For people gathering on the lawn, social distancing will be strictly enforced, and masks are required. There will be no singing to help mitigate against the spread of COVID-19.

We appreciate your continued love, support, prayers and patience as we try to find ways to flourish in the current environment. If you have suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact the office or Deb Reilly at 202-359-7450!

(as of July 31, 2020)

In recognition of public health concerns even as some
restrictions eased, and in consultation with the DC Metro
Synod, Holy Cross continues to provide worship services only in
an online format. The safety of our congregation and staff
remains our top concern. Staff are still largely working from
Staff and Council continues to have conversations about
reopening. We expect this to be gradual, with the possibility of
worship taking place outdoors as an interim step. We appreciate
your patience. Please contact the  office  at 703-437-1883 or Deb
Reilly at 202-359-7450 with any questions or concerns.

(as of March 25, 2020)

HCLC COVID-19 Update
Executive Order 53

Katheryn Wheeler from the Metro DC Synod office attended a Zoom meeting for Virginia Faith Leaders and the response to COVID-19.  She has shared with us that Executive Order 53 applies to religious institutions. The governor’s office was very clear that religious institutions are not considered in the retail exceptions. We are considered in the social gathering category only.  

In accordance with Executive Order 53, there are to be no gatherings of more than 10 people in any congregation for the next 30 days. A copy of the order can be found at the Commonwealth of Virginia website.

As worship leaders gather to provide online worship we are practicing social distancing and keeping surfaces disinfected.  

For the next 30 days worship will be streamed live on Facebook each Sunday at 10 AM. You will receive a weekly email with the bulletin and Weekly Update at noon on the Saturday before each Sunday worship service.  

HCLC is also going live on Facebook each night at 7:30 PM. Each night, a different church leader is bringing a time of devotion, prayer and music to you at that time. Please join us in gathering as an assembly online during these times of social distancing.

In the name of our Great Physician, Jesus Christ,

Martin Eldred, Pastor
Deb Reilly, Council President
Jeremy Shoop, Director of Music and Liturgy
Teresa Easterly, Church Administrator
(as of March 12, 2020)

Gracious God, it is good for us to gather as your beloved in community. We treasure your presence with us in word and meal, song and prayer. Be with us in these days when gathering together is difficult because of health concerns. When those who must stay home from worship, we trust that you surround them with your sheltering wings. Encourage us in connecting as we are able, reaching out to our neighbors in need and being persistent in prayer. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our constant companion. Amen. 

As the current virus outbreak continues to develop, so does the HCLC response. Be assured that church leadership (Pastor Martin, Deb Reilly – Council President, Jeremy Shoop – Director of Music and Liturgy, and Teresa Easterly – Church Administrator) are in constant contact and making adjustments as needed. 
The Metro DC Synod office sent an email Wednesday evening with guidance on how congregations should proceed in consideration of the current health crisis. With consultation to the synod’s email, the national ELCA church office, Fairfax and Loudoun County School communications, and current HCLC policies, HCLC is taking the following actions:
Music Ensembles:  All large ensembles (Sanctuary Choir and Bell Choir) will not be meeting for rehearsal for the time being.
Worship on Sunday:  This Sunday we will have our regular 8:30 and 11:00 AM worship services. There will be no communion at these services. We will celebrate the Service of the Word. This is the order of liturgy used by ELCA congregations before weekly communion was a practice. 
Sunday School:  Sunday School for children is canceled for two weeks. Parents of school aged children, keep an eye on your email for an age appropriate devotion you can share with your child instead of attending Sunday School. Sunday School for adults is canceled this week. Adult Sunday School for next week will be assessed next week.
Disinfecting the Building:  All pews, doorknobs, tables, and other surfaces touched will be disinfected before/after worship services on Sunday morning. We are also working on putting floor stand hand sanitizer stations (like what you see at grocery stores and Costco) in the narthex. As soon as our supplier is able to deliver them, they will be installed. 
Church Council:  The Church Council meeting scheduled for Monday will be a virtual meeting. More information will come from Deb Reilly on how that will happen.
Prayer:  In times like this, prayer is essential to our daily lives. Please consider using prayers like the one at the start and conclusion of this email in your morning/evening devotions. Pray for each other and check in on neighbors you know to be sick.
When to Stay Home:  If you are feeling symptoms of a cold or flu, we ask that you stay home. Worship resources for you to use at home will be posted on our website and Facebook. You can find the sermon each week on our Facebook page (Holy Cross Lutheran Church Herndon VA). If you do not use Facebook, send an email to Teresa or Pastor Martin and a digital copy can be sent to you.
Online Giving: If you miss church and would like to make your offering donation online, please go to, click the “Donate” button and fill out the form as appropriate. You can also simply mail a paper check to the church. It is important to remember that in times like these the work of the church is important and we want to make sure our financial standing is firm to carry out our ministry for the community. 
In the name of our Great Physician, Jesus Christ,
Martin Eldred, Pastor
Deborah Reilly, Council President
Jeremy Shoop, Director of Music and Liturgy
Teresa Easterly, Church Administrator

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