Dear Church Family and Friends,
I’m writing to keep you updated on a timeline for returning to worship in the sanctuary. Some of you may be wondering how the decisions are made about Virtual Worship, Worship on the Lawn, and Worship in the Sanctuary … is Pastor Malinda making these decisions on her own? Are there other people involved in the decision-making process? The answer is: we have a ReOpen Team that meets regularly. This team looks at the most recent scientific data related to COVID-numbers for our area, and then they make recommendations to our Church Council as to how we should proceed.
The ReOpen Team met last week to continue our ongoing discussion related to returning to worship in the Sanctuary. At that time, the numbers in our area had been on a steady decline for 14+ days. We hope this trend continues over the next few weeks. Current projections related to numbers falling or rising are more uncertain now because there appears to be a scientific waiting game to see if enough people will get vaccinated in the next month before COVID-variants could cause another spike. Because of this uncertainty, the ReOpen Team recommended to the Church Council that we continue with Worship on the Lawn through the end of May. The Church Council approved this recommendation. The ReOpen Team is hopeful that they can recommend in a few weeks that we return to Worship in the Sanctuary on June 6. The Team plans to meet again on May 7 for continued discussion related to the decline or increase of the number of COVID cases.
One of our ReOpen Team members shared a poignant reminder with us at our most recent meeting. He pointed out that the early church that we read about in Acts didn’t have a church building to which they could go for worship. They met in people’s homes, by the river bank, pretty much anywhere they could safely meet together. It was important for the body of Christ to be together. He said he’s been thankful that we finally have the opportunity to safely gather on the lawn because it’s so meaningful for our community of faith. I so appreciated his reminder to all of us to give thanks that we’ve made it this far, and we can make it a little farther as long as we’re together.
As the ReOpen Team works toward the projected date of June 6 to re-gather for worship in the sanctuary, they are working on various tasks so we can do our best to provide as safe a worship experience as possible. Some of those tasks include:
… Improvements to our Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall HVAC in an effort improve air quality and kill germs/viruses as the air is moved through system
… Air Purifiers in the Foyer & 1st Floor Bathrooms
… Adding Internet Capability to the Sanctuary for LiveStreaming Worship
… Guidelines and Requirements for People to Attend Worship in the Sanctuary
A few other items of note:
… We need a team of folks to help deep clean the building prior to reopening. You’ll see an email forthcoming that will include a list of tasks for which people can volunteer and then come at their convenience to complete the task.
… We are incurring several expenses related to upgrades to our HVAC and LiveStreaming capabilities. While we can cover these items out of reserve funds, we would prefer not to do that if we can avoid it. We welcome any contributions toward these additional expenses no matter how large or small. Every dollar counts. If you would like to make a donation to these items, click here … then click “I would like to make this donation to a specific fund” … then click “Capital Improvements.” Or you’re always welcome to mail your donation to the church. Here’s an idea of how much each capital improvement will cost:
++ HVAC upgrades to the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall – $3,200
++ Increasing Internet Speed – $540
++ Running cables for internet capabilities to the lawn and sanctuary — $1,000
++ New Camera for Livestreaming – $570
++ Sanctuary Sound Equipment Upgrades – $3,000
++ Air Purifiers for Foyer and First Floor Bathrooms – $500
… We want to hear from you. Please click here to take a brief survey letting us know your hopes, concerns, and opinions related to returning to the sanctuary for worship. Your feedback is very important in helping us make important decisions.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
At the recommendation of the ReOpen Team, the Church Council has approved AA to begin meeting at the church again. They’ve been meeting via Zoom for the past year, and they would still offer the Zoom option for those not yet comfortable being in-person. They will have guidelines to which they will have to adhere (masks required, cleaning of the space afterward, etc.). I imagine that some people who desire to return to worship in the sanctuary might argue that this doesn’t seem fair to allow this group to begin meeting before the congregation is allowed to worship in the sanctuary. My response would be, and I hope yours would be too, that this is an important ministry that for those who need it is a matter of life and death. The past year has taken a huge toll on everyone’s mental health as we’ve all shared this collective trauma, but for people trying to recover from addiction, it’s been even harder on their mental health. They need this support group for their recovery and stability. In addition, this would only be eight-to-ten people as opposed to at least 50 gathered in the sanctuary where we still need to make some upgrades to our HVAC. With proper masking and safe social distancing, I believe that AA can meet safely in the fellowship hall and provide a valuable ministry to community members who really need it.
Thank you for reading this email in its entirety and for your love of the church. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or ideas you may have. Also, please remember to take the survey … we need your insight and feedback. It truly is a privilege to serve this congregation during this uncertain and always-evolving time.