On Sunday, May 31, Christians will be celebrating Pentecost. Pentecost is 50 days after Easter or the day of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. We have not been able to gather physically that entire time to celebrate. Maybe our current situation makes us feel like the disciples after the resurrection and ascensions of Jesus. We might be feeling confused, anxious, nervous, and uncertain about the future. This is a time of uncertainty for the Church, our church, and for everyone. With the information we are receiving from scientists and the government, the situation with the virus may continue throughout the rest of the year.
We know the virus is in our community and even though some of the stay–at–home practices are being relaxed, the elders has determined that we must remain vigilant in order to not spread the virus throughout our church. However, the elders has decided to allow a limited group to gather physically in the building beginning officially on June 7th but with restrictions as listed on the back page.
The elders are continuing to look at options for worship. The initial service is scheduled for June 7th, and will be a combination of in–sanctuary and on–line through Zoom. We would like to identify and give priority to those who have limited technology or ability to connect on–line to have the first option (if they are comfortable) of coming into the building. On the enclosed cards, we are asking you return the prepaid postcard indicating your ability to be on–line or to come to the sanctuary. The session is limiting our first few gatherings to 20 people (for proper social distancing in the space available) so it will be necessary to sign–up to worship in the building. Priority will be given to those people who have not been able to participate on–line.
The elders did also discuss the option of going to two services—the usual morning service and an evening service around 7:00 p.m., but that will not be part of the initial gathering. On the postcard, you can indicate if that would be an option in which you might be interested.
Restrictions by which everyone attending must abide:
- Do not attend if you are feeling ill
- Do not attend if you have an atypical cough
- You must provide a face mask and wear it at all times while in the sanctuary
- Enter and exit through the same door
- You must use the hand sanitizer when coming in the door
- Seating will be preset for social distancing. Do not move chairs
- No bulletins will be distributed
- There will be no singing in the sanctuary (plans for music are yet to be determined)
- Communion will not be served until we can develop safe practices
- Offering locations will be outside the sanctuary doors (the plate will not be passed)
- Bathrooms will be open but we encourage everyone to use the facilities at home before coming. If you use the restroom facility, disinfecting wipes will be provided and it will be necessary for you to wipe down surfaces like door handles as you leave
You may disagree with the above policies, but if you are not willing to abide by the restrictions, we invite you to continue worshiping via Zoom. These restrictions will be continually reevaluated and adapted as more scientific information and governmental recommendations are made available.
The elders are trying to reduce risk of contagion, but you must be aware that there is some risk to each of us as we gather together again. If you are do not feel comfortable in returning to worship, we invite you to continue joining through Zoom as well.
While there are no perfect options, the elders had to make decisions on how we care for one another. Not everyone will agree with the decisions that have been made or with the restrictions, but we believe we have made these with the interest of how we can show love during this time.
I personally want to thank everyone for their prayers of wisdom for the leadership of the church as we enter uncharted territory. We must continue to remember, as Pastor Obaid Khokher said, each home is now a church!