April is fast approaching and we are beginning to settle into a new way of being together. Although I have been reluctant over the years to push remote technology as ways of interacting (it’s just so hard, we have all said), necessity has me learning at a fast rate! So let us all prepare our hearts, minds and spirits to embrace some of the areas we have avoided out of fear.
It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that we are moving ahead with the expectation that we will not be back in the sanctuary for worship together before May. We will return together as soon as it is prudent to do so. And while I would like nothing more than to notify you sooner that it’s time to fill the sanctuary, it is time to work to develop meaningful online Holy Week and Easter worship. We also need to keep all of our church systems operating.
We will be livestreaming our worship this week just as we have over the last two weeks. But next week we will begin to tweak further. Even among our staff and those who assist in leading worship, there are those among us who are at higher risk in our current situation. So I’ve been working to find ways for us to include multiple parts to worship from our own homes. And I’ve just about got it ready to go. My own computer webcam has died and I’ve ordered a new one. This morning, I got word that the delivery date has been moved up to no later than Thursday. So if you see a livestream of us practicing this week, we would love your feedback on how it works to help us tweak the final product. We’ll do this stream on the church friend’s group page only so that it’s not accessible to others. I will not be saving our practice session and ask that you NOT share it. We’ll keep our practice inside the family, please.
I ask that each of our Facebook users be sure you have liked the church page. Beginning Palm Sunday, we will start streaming to this page rather than my personal page. I’ve been inviting folks that I see watching to like our page so that they can see it live moving forward. This will also allow us to have a button on our church website home page as a link to worship for those who are less computer literate or Facebook leery. I will keep the daily devotionals on my own page for now since much of the time I’m reading someone else’s product. This will continue to be an opportunity for me to invite others to our church page and worship (which I’ll still save to my page at the end of worship). We will have both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship livestreamed as well. Watch for details.
Since we are not coming together, all of our meetings have also been cancelled. I am having to learn some of the finer points of Zoom (for computer live meetings) to teach in Licensing School this year. There are some limitations in their free service, but we will have all that we need for less than $150 a year. We are going to move ahead with this. I’ve used the free service for a staff meeting to see how easy/difficult it was for others to set up. So to start, I’ll ask for Marcia Matus, Doug Crownover, Dale Wolfe, Mark Mester, Karen Crownover, and Linda Easton to be watching for a meeting invite from me. We will start with this group to work out some of the kinks and details of this process. At this cost, I’ll have to be to set up meetings, but we can make this work! Please let me know when you cannot meet so that I can include everyone. If you need help moving through the process, please call Barbara and she’ll be happy to walk you through it. This will get us on the road to setting up the rest of our meetings!
As we all continue to connect by phone, I ask that you pay especially close attention to those who may not have as much internet or social media access and those who live alone. Many of us live with some family, but this is not true for all. If we don’t live alone, this solitary time is very different for us than it is for those who do live alone. Our telephone connections are even more important for the most isolated among us. If you have the ability to FaceTime and see the other person, so much the better. I’m giving thanks right now for the technology that is available to us. We may have been reluctant to take full advantage of it in the past, but it is a blessing right now.
I encourage you to look for at least one blessing each day. Sarah Reed is an inspiration to all of us on this one. A few days ago, she started posting a blessing on Facebook each day. They lift me up and remind me of my own blessings. I’ll keep the daily spiritual practices coming Monday through Friday and the Facebook livestream devotionals daily at 3 p.m. And I’ll see you in church tomorrow at 11 a.m. (via Facebook live!). Be safe. Stay in love with God and one another. We are a family who celebrate together and carry one another when we need support. I am thankful for each and every one of you.
May the peace of Christ that passes all understanding be with you,