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 Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several safety measures are in place at St. Peter Lutheran Church, such as removing hymnals and pencils from the pews to make them easier to clean and sectioning off every other pew to ensure acceptable social distancing.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several safety measures are in place at St. Peter Lutheran Church, such as removing hymnals and pencils from the pews to make them easier to clean and sectioning off every other pew to ensure acceptable social distancing.

Photo provided by Mark Wuggazer


St. Peter Macomb resumes in-person services

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 23, 2020

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Many aspects of society are slowly coming back thanks to a lower number of COVID-19 cases, churches included.

At St. Peter Lutheran Church, located at 17051 24 Mile Road in Macomb Township, regularly scheduled worship services were held in-person through March 16.

Then for 12 weeks, the church went virtual, live-streaming services that folks could view from wherever they might be.

At St. Peter, that meant pastors preached to a camera in their living rooms, and worship leaders and others filmed their parts of a service, such as the sermon and hymns, from home. All footage was then edited together.

“I would record a sermon and some announcements and another pastor would record the prayers and other elements of the service,” St. Peter Macomb Senior Pastor Rev. Mark Wuggazer said. “Our music people would record themselves playing the piano or guitar at home, then a teacher would do a children’s message.”    

The church reopened for in-person worship the weekend of June 13, with certain measures in place to ensure churchgoers remained safe.

“I learned very quickly it’s much different to preach to a camera than to preach to people,” Wuggazer said. “As a speaker, you develop a rapport with the people, and the camera just watches.”

He estimated the average weekly viewership for virtual church was 400 people.

If people don’t feel well or comfortable attending, services will continue being live-streamed at StPeterMacomb.com.

When asked to assess how the services went in March when the pandemic began in Michigan, Wuggazer said a number of precautions were taken.

“It was a little bit surreal because our people are used to hugging, shaking hands and being close to one another,” he said. “There was a real sense of community that came out of it. We’re in this together.”  

Face masks will be required at all services.

Other safety measures include doors being propped open to avoid touching handles, maintaining six feet of social distancing from all persons churchgoers did not arrive with in the same car, and a custodian wiping down common surfaces, such as the bathrooms and doorknobs, between services.

“We’re more prepared than we were in March for safety precautions,” he said.  

Wuggazer said the reason in-person services briefly continued at St. Peter once the pandemic began is because in times of crisis and tragedy, folks need to see God even more.  

“For some people, it was fine to watch online and that satisfied that need to connect with God,” he said. “For some, they need to gather with other believers and be in God’s house.”

For communion, the common cup will not be used until church leaders deem the situation as safe as it was prior to COVID-19. Pastors and elders will thoroughly wash their hands prior to distributing communion and use non-latex gloves and face masks.

The host, or bread, will be dropped into the hands of worshippers. Individual cups will be placed one at a time on a table for worshippers to pick up. There will be no physical contact between pastor and worshipper.

Offering plates will be stationed to the side of the chancel so folks can leave an offering on their way out.

Other measures being taken include posting signs on all doors reminding folks to keep a social distance of at least six feet and taping off every other pew to ensure acceptable social distancing.

For Wuggazer, a positive of doing virtual services for so long was that his sister in Switzerland, stepmother in Florida, stepsister in Arizona, and a stepbrother who is also a pastor were able to watch services together, despite being thousands of miles apart.  

In regard to what the plan is for Vacation Bible School, St. Peter Macomb is teaming up with Immanuel Lutheran, also located in Macomb Township, for a virtual experience.  

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