Dear friends in Christ,
Things are changing swiftly in our current world situation. There is an odd combination of both monotony and variability that’s got us upside down and all over the place. When I look back at what I wrote for you in last month’s Chatter, I feel that all over again. At that time we were planning to begin drive-in worship services sometime soon in our parking lot. That plan is also one that has changed dramatically.
Council has just put the finishing touches on a letter to be sent out to our entire membership and friends. It may have already reached you before this issue of the Chatter, or perhaps not, depending on how fast the mail travels. In that letter you will read that we are planning to resume in-person worship in our building on Sunday, July 12 at 10:00 am.
The letter will also give you a lot of detail about how this service will be different from what we usually experience in our worship space. There will be a number of precautions in place and your cooperation is essential. Masks will be required, along with social distancing, and the service format and style will be different from before. You’ll need to make arrangements the week before to attend on Sunday and you may need to sit in a spot different from your favorite seat. There’s a lot to get used to, but if we can adapt to the new ways and things continue improving in our area, we will be able to continue re-opening safely. (These are just some of the details—please refer to the letter for a full list.)
I know we are all tired of the virus, tired of dealing with change and getting used to new things. Trust me, I am as well! And yet this is where we find ourselves, and we continue to be concerned for the safety and well-being of our neighbors and our fellow members of the body of Christ.. I believe that even with the precautions in place, seeing each other in person will be a joyful occasion and one that brings us hope by reminding us that Christ continues to dwell among us and between us no matter the obstacles.
Let me say a word about our online worship services. Most importantly, they will continue. Why?
I know there are a number of you who are in the high-risk categories (or have family members who are) and will choose to worship from home to stay safe.
These services have also proven to be a new way to minister to others outside our membership roster.
The format of these online services will include some elements that are not safe in a shared enclosed space, so that may lead you to choose this option.
If you can’t wear a mask or don’t want to, this is probably the best option for you.
Worshiping at home is a completely valid choice and still counts as “worship” just as much as gathering in person. You are not “playing hooky” if you choose to do this! You can also do both—but there is no extra credit, sorry.
If you decide to worship at home but without a screen, you can use the Home Liturgies for July and the hymns later in this issue of the Chatter to worship with just yourself and your Bible. We have also started mailing out copies of this home worship and my sermon (after Sunday morning) to those without email. If you’d like to receive this, just let Kathy in the office know. She can send them by regular mail or email.
Russ and I continue to try new things to make the online experience a more worshipful one for you. Right now we are going to try pre-recording the online service and posting it as a premiere on YouTube and on Facebook for Sunday morning at 9:00 am. It should look almost identical to what we have been doing. It will be available on demand right away for those who prefer a later service time. This will help simplify our Sunday morning schedule and help ensure the worship videos can be accessed by everyone who wants to watch.
There are a few more important pieces of information I need to share with you. First of all, you probably know that a few beloved and long-time members of our church family have recently entered the church triumphant and are now resting in the arms of Jesus. Dutch Regner passed on Monday, June 22 and Bob Zeller passed on Sunday, June 28. Please hold their families in prayer in this difficult time.
Secondly, Jim Herchek has submitted his resignation as one of the co-presidents of Council and we have reluctantly accepted it. He will be missed greatly and we wish him well in his future pursuits.
Finally, in the last few issues of the Chatter, I have been reminding us all of some basic values to keep us grounded in our faith in these challenging times:
Through Christ, God’s love, grace and forgiveness is present with each and every believer in ordinary, everyday things.
Because Jesus loved and died for every single person, no one should be forgotten or left behind. People are more important than money or resources.
We are the hands and feet of Christ no matter where we are.
You are a part of a strong and amazing group of people who will rise to the challenge.
These are just as true now, as we move toward a new phase and continue to try and stay connected even as we worship together, but in different places. Thank you for your willingness to have courage and follow the Holy Spirit into new places of discovering God’s grace.
Together in Christ,