The St. John’s Return Team is happy to report a tremendous response to our Congregational Survey. More than 110 households responded indicating a high level of interest in our congregation’s continued return to worship activities. We are thankful for all your responses and look forward to using them to help guide our priorities and decisions. A brief overview of your responses follows.
In all, we received 112 responses including households with a diverse range of age groups. Sixty households reported including senior citizens (age 65+) (54%). Thirty-two households reported including children or teens (29%). Twenty households reported including only adults ages 19-64 (18%).
When asked what they missed the most about their in-person St. John’s experience, respondents most frequently chose Sanctuary Worship and Communion (n=52, 46%). Fellow church members were missed most by 31 respondents (28%) Pastors were the most frequently missed by 17 respondents (15%). Of note, 43 respondents reported the thing they missed second most were also the pastors (38%). Twenty-seven respondents reported they missed fellow church members the most and 27 respondents also chose sanctuary worship resulting in a tie (24%).
We were heartened by our respondents’ participation in current St. John’s Worship activities including YouTube services, parking lot worship, and drive-up communion. Ninety-two respondents reported viewing YouTube services (82%). Seventy-five respondents reported attending our new parking lot worship services. (67%). Sixty-four reported participating in drive-up communion (57%). Only one respondent didn’t select any of the current worship choices.
Respondents indicated a high degree of interest in St. John’s offering funeral services. Eighty-two households viewed this as a critical, unmet need (73%). Baptisms (n=47, 82%), weddings (n=38, 33.9%), and receiving new members (n=32, 28.6%) were also reported as important, unmet needs. Only seven households reported that St. John’s didn’t currently have any critical unmet needs. Note, these percentages don’t add up to 100% due to overlap between some answers.
St. John’s households overwhelmingly reported support for basing our return to worship on local conditions, relevant public health guidance and synod guidance. 68.8% of households strongly agreed with that statement (n=77). Another 25.9% of households reported they agreed with the statement (n=29), Only 1 respondent disagreed (0.9%). No respondents reported strongly disagreeing with the statement.
Our survey asks respondents to tell us what minimum safety protocols needed to be met before members and their families would feel comfortable returning to sanctuary based services. Respondents overwhelmingly supported physical distancing within the sanctuary (n=99, 88.4%). Mask use was also strongly supported (n=93, 83%). Mandatory hand sanitizer use was cited by 64% of households (n=72). Temperature taking was cited by fewer respondents than expected (n=41, 36.6%).
Several of our safety protocol questions lent themselves to gauging concern about worship practices. Fifty-one participants cited not singing as an important safety precaution (46%). A smaller number of respondents, 27, cited few spoken responses (24%). One person made an interesting suggestion to consider an earlier service for the elderly and those at higher risk.
Our next question asked respondents what minimum public health milestones needed to be met in addition to their safety protocols before they’d feel safe returning to sanctuary based worship services. Responses were fairly split. 34% of respondents reported being ready now (n=38). 54% reported requiring a significant decrease in COVID19 activity (n=60). 36% reported wanted a vaccine to be available before they’d feel safe returning to the sanctuary.
One of our questions sought to gauge interest in a hypothetical return to the sanctuary worship service. Our hypothetical service was 20-30 minutes long, featured no singing, few spoken responses, no congregational fellowship and required physically-distanced seating and mask wearing. An overwhelming majority of respondents reported being either very comfortable (n=31, 27.7%) or comfortable (n=50, 44.6%) with this hypothetical service. Only 12% reported being either uncomfortable (n=9, 8%) or very uncomfortable (n=3, 3%) with the idea. Of these 12 households, 10 included senior citizens, 2 of which reported included persons with other underlying medical conditions.
Our last question was about respondents’ preferred method of communication. Meeting minutes emailed was the most popular 1st choice method (n=50, 45%). The church newsletter was the second most popular 1st choice method (n=34, 30%). Meeting minutes on the church website was another popular choice.
The Return Team wishes to thank everyone for supporting our survey. Your responses will guide our work and decision making in the coming months. We have a great team and will always seek to keep our church a safe and vibrant place to worship and grow in our faith and fellowship.