Welcome to the Monday Mailing #23 –
Questions abound. . .and that’s a good thing.
The “elephant in the room” question is this – when will we be returning to in-person worship? A really great question. The answer is, it depends. The twin question is this – what will be required of those attending worship? That is not in doubt, the Covid-19 Task Force has been hard at work.
Opening up worship really does depend on so many things. What these past two weeks have taught us is this – technologically speaking, we did not know what we did not know! And regardless of when we actually return to in-person worship, there are some technology upgrades which we need to engage. The larger questions for us all hover around the issues of safety. So let me explain what you will encounter when you come back.
You will have sent an email (or called the church office only if you do not have email) to a special email address about your intention to be present for worship that week. You must RSVP to be on our list. You must RSVP every week. We need to know how many to expect, and how many without reservation we might accommodate.
There will be X marks the spots on the sidewalk and ramp leading up to the Sanctuary door, just like you encounter at the grocery, Target, Wal-Mart, the bank. You will be asked to social distance, one from another. Family units will be asked to stay together. We ask that you only enter through the Sanctuary doors and not through the Education Wing.
You will be asked questions about your health and the health of your family, and you will sign in. We will keep these records for an appropriate time, in the unlikely case of a Covid-19 spread in our midst.
You will wear a mask, or a face shield. A mask will be provided if you do not have one. A mask is required to come into the building. We will also ask you to sanitize your hands. We will provide both a gel and a spray, but you must do this in our sight. There are disposable gloves available, if you desire.
The ushers will do the job of ushering you to your seat. We must fill in from the front to the back. . .so you may get to encounter a different part of the sanctuary than you might have previously encountered! You can talk with others who are present, but we ask you to maintain the 6-foot personal distancing. No singing, but you will get to experience the beauty of the music. You may speak the “all” parts of the worship liturgy (it will be presented on the wall), but please do so in a soft voice. When worship is over, you be directed which way to leave the building. There is no formal gathering after worship, but if you decide to gather outside, we ask that you remain masked and maintain personal distance, one from another.
It is at that point that the area where you were seated will be disinfected. The restrooms will be available, but you will need to follow the guidelines posted about leaving the area ready for the next person.
All of this is to say – the church cares about you. One of the elders said that they felt very safe coming to worship with all these pieces in place. We feel very good about this. But we know this – many of you are in an at-risk population, and the decision as to whether or not you return right now is an important question. Please know that we will continue to worship via Zoom regardless of any other decision. Please know that your church family completely understands your personal decision, and respects that decision. Please know that sitting in the pews does not make us a church. . .living the life of faith, giving the cup of water to one in need, and praising God does – this church has never closed. . .we have continued to be the Body of Christ wherever we find ourselves.
You are an important part of this faith community, whether we gather in one physical place or one virtual place, or some combination of both. Pray for one another. Pray for those who are researching and working toward a vaccine for Covid-19. Pray for your PNC, and the leadership of the Church.