A month ago I wrote about taking baby steps as we move forward toward in person worship. Now, though I am cautious in my excitement, I am delighted to announce that we will begin in person worship on October 18th. We required a minimum number of volunteers to implement our re-open plan, and we have just made it. We will be scheduling a training for those volunteers next week. If you would like to volunteer, please let me know and your name will be added to the rotation schedule.
What does this mean for everyone? First, let’s all breathe…several times, please. Remember all change, even the most desired change, is stressful. We don’t know what may be waiting on the road ahead, so we will proceed with caution. For those of us leading and “producing” worship, this will likely feel a lot like March all over again, expect now we’re already tired. You will remember that we rapidly went through a few media platform changes back then…and we’re about to change again. Remember that those first changes were rough in the beginning. But with a lot of mercy, grace and patience from all of you, we found the space to tweak each week to arrive at the experience that you have today. The new platform that supports both in person and live streamed worship is again brand new to us.
We will continue to live stream our service. To begin with, we will still have one service at 9:00 a.m. When the time comes that we can’t accommodate all who wish to be present, the schedule will be adjusted and both services will be live streamed. We have fully opened the door making worship, bible study, meet attendance, and other activities open to everyone regardless of your ability to be physically present…the cows have left the barn and there is no closing that door. Other in person activities will more slowly become possible inside. I’ll keep you posted.
Our plans for Advent and Christmas will include at-home experiences as well as options for both in person and through live streaming. Everyone will receive the same materials so if you plan to be physically present and life changes your plans (or you just oversleep), everyone will still be able to fully participate digitally.
If you choose in person worship, what should you expect? When you arrive, you will be greeted while your temperature (no touch) is taken as you hand sanitize (again, no touch). If you stand in line, 6-foot social distancing between family groups is expected. Please bring a mask. If you forget, one will be provided to you. Signs will be posted showing how a mask is to be worn. If you forget or need assistance, an usher will direct you. The next greeter will check you in by name using an app and will point out the QR Code that you can scan using your phone camera to have a bulletin. If you come as a family group, there will be no need to hold up the line for everyone to scan as the same QR Code will be on the screen in the sanctuary until worship begins. You should be able to scan it from your seats. Another usher will seat you and lead you out when the time comes. It is important that we keep movement to a minimum, so please use restroom facilities before leaving home. We will greet one another with waves and air-5s.
We will not move to our new media platform until November. We trying to make everything available on the sanctuary screen, but if it is not possible until November, the only screen will be the QR Code for an Order of Worship. While it won’t last forever, there will be no singing. Except for piano only pieces, all music will be pre-recorded. You will be able to hear the music, but no visuals until November and the platform change. Beginning in November, we will have everything available on the screen in the sanctuary and online. It may still reflect a big learning curve, but we will be on our way. By Advent, we hope to start including some virtual choir pieces to our worship as well. I wish I could tell you that everything would be in place on October 18th…instead, please remember grace and patience. We are all pedaling as fast as we can.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? I’ll move over. There’s room in this crazy RV for all of us. We know that there are curves in the road ahead, maybe even a barricade or two. So when it feels like things are moving too slowly, know that we’re just making sure we all stay on the road through whatever surprises lay ahead. Remember that we will one day sing and hug and all of the things that you miss most…just not quite yet…but we’re making progress.
Hugs to all of you,