9:30 a.m. Sundays
Dear Friends in Christ,
As few weeks ago I asked everyone to fill out and return surveys as we began to think about returning to in-person worship. The results of that survey were quite revealing, with only about 15% of households responding that they were ready to return to indoor, in-person worship immediately while following all the CDC guidelines. At the same time, all across other States who have opened up more quickly than us, we have many reports of churches having to re-close because of Covid-19 outbreaks. Because of this, the Council has approved a more cautious approach to the next phase.
In the month of July we have two options for worship, online and outdoor. The online service for now will look exactly as it has been these last months. Deacon Carla, Ron and I will record and post by 5:00 pm Saturday night on Facebook and there will be a call-in option at 10:30 am on Sunday. The outdoor worship time will be Sunday at 9:30 am weather permitting and will take place in the parking lot. In case of storms, online worship will be posted as usual. For ease of reference, here are the bullet points for how the outdoor worship will go:
- Worship will be an abbreviated Service of the Word (live prayers, Gospel reading, sermon and pre-recorded music). Unfortunately singing live and in groups is still seen as particularly risky, so please enjoy the music when it is played from the speakers and carillon.
- Safe Communion practices are still being developed, but for now you will be invited to return home and have communion as a family following the guidelines set out in the pastoral letter.
- For now, the church building (i.e., restrooms) will not be open. Again, the service will be abbreviated.
- The pulpit will be located on the lawn directly behind the sanctuary. Check out the satellite image above. (This is an old image, thank goodness our parking lot has been repaved since this photo was taken).
- Members are invited to park in every other parking space, staggered (see illustration). Staff and volunteers will be there to assist you. If you’d like to volunteer, please call the office.
- If members wish they may stay in the car with their windows open, bring lawn chairs to place outside their vehicle, or sit on the tail gate. All members will be asked to shut down their engine so that exhaust fumes do not bother those around them.
- All members will be asked to maintain 6 feet between households. Those members outside of the car will wear a mask.
- We really wrestled with balancing the need for shaded comfort and having people walk a distance to shaded areas. Because of mobility issues, we have decided to stay in the parking lot. If you are especially sensitive to light, our recommendation would be to stay in the car or bring an umbrella.
- After the service, Pastor Preston will move to the diveway leading to the exit if households would like to stop and chat for a moment, similar to the line following services in the sanctuary.
I understand that some in our congregation long to be back to “normal” and may be frustrated by the slower pace decided by the Council. During the month of July, we will be working diligently to put into place the procedures and gather the materials needed to be inside the building safely and responsibly. Knowing that many of the cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, etc., are on back order, we will be doing everything we can to get everything in place. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
In the meantime, the ministries of this church are still moving forward and ever growing. This church was never the building, but always the people of God in common mission to proclaim and live out the Gospel message.