And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight. Philippians 1:9

During the month of September, we have begun what I have been thinking of as a “third way” of doing worship at FBCP. Up until March 2020, we worshiped together in the sanctuary. For the past six months, we have recorded worship during the week and shared the video on Sunday mornings. This month, we have again been worshiping at church on Sunday mornings, but with the service Livestreamed and shared online. Each approach requires different methods of planning, preparation, and participation. There are advantages and disadvantages.

This Sunday, September 27, we will worship in the sanctuary, but it will not be quite a “return to normal.” In some ways, worship will be quite different than what it was pre-March 2020:

  • Worship will begin at 11 am (to allow Sunday School classes to meet on Zoom at 9:30 am).
  • The service will be a bit shorter, to help accommodate safety precautions and to limit the amount of time we are gathered in the same space.
  • We will not pass offering plates or friendship registers.
  • We will not have congregational singing (studies indicate aerosolized particles of the virus are spread further by singing).
  • We will continue to Livestream the service on Facebook, and we will share the uploaded video on YouTube at a later time.

As we gather for worship, we will ask those who attend to do some things differently:

  • Wear masks, to protect one another. We have a supply of cloth masks available at church to anyone who needs one.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when you arrive at church.
  • Observe social distancing, refraining from handshakes, hugs, and other physical contact. Please sit spaced out around the sanctuary, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between those not in your family/household.
  • If you are not feeling well or have been exposed to someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19, please join us online instead of attending in person.
  • If possible, please use the doors closest to the sanctuary (front door to church and the side doors nearest the sanctuary) to minimize traffic throughout the building. The handicap entrance on the first floor is available if needed, but the front door of the church and the side door on the parking lot side are also handicap accessible.
  • If restrooms are needed, please use the restrooms on the 2nd floor (sanctuary/main level). This will also help minimize traffic throughout the building.
  • As you arrive, we will keep a record of attendance, in the event that we need this information for contact tracing.

In addition to the precautionary measures we will take when we gather, we have also taken special precautions to prepare the building for our re-gathering:

  • The church has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
  • Hand sanitizer pumps have been installed in various locations around the building.
  • Air filters have been replaced.
  • Water fountains have been turned off (feel free to bring water with you if needed; we do have some bottled water available if needed.)

None of these precautionary measures are guarantees. I recently heard what I thought was a rather creative and helpful analogy. Think of each layer of precaution as a slice of Swiss cheese; there are holes in it. The more layers we use, the less likelihood there is that the holes will overlap, and the greater the chances of reducing the spread of the virus.

Worship will be different in many ways, but it will still be worship.

  • We will set aside time from our week to seek God’s presence as a community of faith.
  • We will hear Scripture, music, and words of reflection inviting us to celebrate God’s goodness, to grow in our faith, and to live as disciples of Jesus.
  • We will offer our prayers to God, our encouragement to our neighbors, and our contributions to our church.
  • We will recognize the presence of God with us always and everywhere, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we gather on Sunday, whether in person or online, we will begin a new sermon series on the book of Philippians. This short epistle is often characterized by joy. My prayer for our church during this time is that we might find joy, even in these challenging times. I know we are weary of social distancing. I know we are tired of wearing masks. I know we miss singing and covered dish lunches and hugs and so many things. This is hard.

But friends – the joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) and indeed, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Join me for the next few weeks in reading and reflecting on the book of Philippians. Together, may we find joy in Christ and in our sweet community of faith.

Sept 27 ∙ Philippians chapter 1
Oct 4 ∙ Philippians chapter 2
Oct 11 ∙ Philippians chapter 3
Oct 18 ∙ Philippians chapter 4

Through all things, may we remain rooted in faith, growing in love.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jennifer Rygg
September 20, 2020