Dear Shepherd of the Valley Community,
Summer is upon us. Many of our friends and neighbors are getting out, enjoying the weather. If you are among them, we pray that you stay safe and well.
I wanted to update you on the progression towards in-person worship. We have formed two task forces, one to arrange for deep cleaning the church, the other to discuss short- and long-term worship planning as we consider getting together again. Both task forces are in their infancy. We don’t have firm answers yet. We don’t anticipate it’ll be too long before we have a road forward.
Whatever that road looks like, three things will take priority:
1. We’re not going to be cavalier about health. States that have re-opened early are also seeing a strong resurgence of COVID-19. I was in the grocery store the other day and I’d estimate fewer than 10% of the people were masked. Frankly, this scares me. As a church, we need to take precautions to make sure, as best we can, that we’re not spreading the virus. Doing a risky or bad thing in God’s name doesn’t make that thing good. We know that other churches are opening up around us. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we do it right.
2. When we do get together again, it’s not going to be exactly the same. In order to make sure as many people as possible can feel comfortable participating, we’re going to need to look at issues of seating, communion, music, and more. The transition will not be simple. The worship task force and council will have recommendations for us soon, but actually implementing those recommendations may take time. It’s likely that we’re going to need to do some type of transitional worship (perhaps outdoors?) in the interim as our interior spaces and practices are being reformed.
3. Through all of this--and afterwards as we resume in-person--we will remain committed to our video and remote services. This isn’t just to catch people who can’t come in person, but to reach out to the people around us. More than ever as we put out these videos, we’re finding that people have not heard the message the way we share it. Things that some of us take for granted are absolute revelations to our neighbors around us, who have heard very different things about God. Not everyone will respond, of course, but the people who do are quite grateful. Digital ministry should remain a part of our calling even when we gather together in person again.
Until we have a firm course of action, I still can’t give you a date for resuming in person, nor the manner in which we’ll do so. I’ll say we’re closer now than we have been since the COVID hiatus started, and I’ll ask you to watch this space and your weekly emails the remainder of this month for further details.