Please be aware that this will not be a “return to normal.”
For the past several months, our church council has met monthly on Zoom to continually evaluate our plans and protocols regarding our response to the global pandemic. In July, we began having outdoor worship two Sunday evenings each month. At our most recent church council meeting on August 25, we began making plans for hopefully resuming in-person services on Sunday mornings during the month of September. We will continue to offer online worship, although there will be some changes to the format and method of posting.
At this time the cases in our area have been declining and projections show (with precautions including widespread mask usage!) the potential for continued decline. However, we are concerned about the possibility of cases increasing as schools are resuming. We are also aware of several people in our church family who have tested positive for COVID, some of whom were asymptomatic. We will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed.
Please be aware that this will not be a “return to normal.” We are still in the midst of a global health crisis, and we will need to make changes to our worship practices to protect one another. These changes will include not having congregational singing, at least for now. Studies show that singing produces more aerosolized particles than talking. While masks are effective in stopping the virus from spreading by droplets, the aerosolized particles are too small to be stopped by the masks. Therefore, while we will ask everyone to wear masks, other precautions will be necessary as well.
We are working on specific plans regarding the worship service and safety precautions and will share those soon, but wanted to go ahead and make you aware of anticipated changes to our current Sunday schedule.
For Sunday, September 6, we will have our pre-recorded worship service posted on Sunday morning as we have been doing for the past several months. In addition, we will share communion via Zoom at 11:30 am. You may watch the online worship before or after communion; the link for joining communion by Zoom will be shared in the church emails which will be sent on Sept 2 and Sept 6.
On Sunday, September 13 and Sunday, September 20, we plan to worship outdoors at 11 am, livestream the service on Facebook, and hopefully be able to upload it to Youtube to be shared via email as well, although it may be Sunday afternoon or Monday before it is available on these platforms. (We have some Sunday School classes meeting via Zoom at 9:30 am on Sundays, so gathering for worship at 11 will allow them to continue to meet for Sunday School online.)
We hope to resume in-person worship in the sanctuary on Sunday, September 27 at 11 am, but this may need to be adjusted depending on how our community is impacted by the virus over the next few weeks as schools reopen. Again, we will livestream on Facebook, and plan to upload the service as soon as possible.
Thank you for your patience as we have learned (and continue to learn!) to use new technology and to adapt to new needs and challenges. We do want to encourage each person and family to take into account their unique situation when making decisions regarding returning to worship. We will continue to provide online options and do not want anyone to feel pressure or guilt regarding returning to in-person worship.
As Acts 17:24 reminds us, The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands.
God is certainly not confined to a church building, and we can worship God in spirit and in truth wherever we are, in the parking lot, on Facebook, on YouTube, by telephone, as well as in the sanctuary.
I look forward to continuing to grow in faith and love together as a church family.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Jennifer M. Rygg