Update: Please read below for information on plans for beginining In-Person Worship.
We, the church, this community, the world are in a period of mourning. We are mourning our routines, our future, the simple act of touching each other through handshakes and hugs. We are off balance and long to simply have some sign of normalcy. Typically, in the past during times of great anxiety we were able to congregate in person, give signs of encouragement and peace. But we have been restricted. The feeling you have been having of sorrow is called mourning. We do need to shed tears, remember, and take note that we have grief over not passing the peace in church, of not being able to sing hymns together, of not seeing each other’s face We miss laughing with one another, reciting and listening to our creeds together. We were designed for one another to be in community together. Sunday morning was a place we could connect, celebrate our faith victories over the week and find strength in our failings.
We need to cry out to God for his peace to encounter us in our struggles, to call out to God for those this virus is affecting and the conditions it is creating of disparity and despair, that healing, restoration, hope and strength will fill their lives. We need to call out to God for comfort in our grief, for confidence to look to Him in our struggles and to discover how we can be the people he has called us to be.
Remember this prayer from the book of Lamentations chapter 3
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
26. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Covid-19 has been a disruption to our lives. It has been inconvenient for some and devastating for others. It has created an environment where we cannot meet as we once did. The church, the people not the building, has a responsibility for Doing No Harm. And so, we did our part in helping to flatten the curve of the virus which was about allowing hospitals to do what was necessary to not be overwhelmed by a flood of patients creating even more chaos. Flattening the curve was not about curing the virus, but making sure we had enough beds and ventilators for the sick.
The efforts made have done a great job. Wellington saw low numbers during our time of quarantine. However, since opening phase 1 the past 10 days has seen an increase in the numbers of people who are testing positive. I say that, so you are aware, that I am keeping an eye on those numbers, to encourage you to keep social distancing, wash your hands, and wear your mask (as there is ever increasing evidence that masks work and remember that it is most effective in keeping someone carrying the virus from spreading it unknowingly). I would also encourage you to get tested.
That being said, our conference has given churches permission (barring significant spikes in the presence of the virus) with certain guidelines, when our churches feel ready to begin planning for In Person Worship.
What Does That Mean for St Peter’s?
There are 3 stages for us to begin inperson worship
1. Re-opening Team
- a. Develop safety procedures
b. Develop plan for re-open
a. Communicate to the congregation what Sunday mornings will look
like from a safety perspective and what worship will look like
b. Have 3 weeks to help congregation plan for their own expectation of
what a Sunday morning will require of them
1. Technical Team
a. Make sure we have people trained to run all the technical aspects of
having a live and live streamed worship service
b. Make sure we can do both at the same time well (that we have the
right equipment, manpower to simply run the cameras, sound system,
screen slide for both online and in person)
2. Ushers and Worship Support
a.Training our Ushers for how to help people find safe seats, point
towards sanitizer stations, provide masks for those who do have them,
b. Creating safe procedures for offering and communion
Invite you all to worship
Where We Are:
We are moving from stage 1 to stage 2. Our team has done an incredible job of creating procedures for when we can see each other’s faces again. I will share some of those below. Over the next few weeks, you will see letters and videos from us sharing the plan; we will be working out the technical glitches for doing live stream and in person on a budget.
- Our goal is to do our best to create practices that will keep you healthy and to keep staff healthy.
- The majority of our large churches in the UMC are waiting until late summer to re-open.
- We are aiming for early July (barring no major spikes in the virus)
- Only 30% of our congregation has indicated they will be joining us for in-person due to concerns of Covid-19.
The Basic Practices
Remember, us having in person worship is not saying that the virus isn’t still here. It is and it is dangerous. We can ensure safe practices, but none are guaranteed.
You Should Stay Home If:
- You have a fever
- You show any of the signs of having the virus
- You are not feeling well
- You have an immune system that is susceptible to being weakened by the virus
- Or any other reasons your doctor or the CDC has told you to stay at home
If You Come:
- Every other pew will be blocked off to ensure safe distances
- Each pew will have 6ft marked off to keep family units or individuals at a safe 6ft distance
- Face Masks are required (we are still looking at what age children do not need to wear them)
- There will be one entrance
- We will have exit doors for different zones in the church
- Please do not shake each other’s hands (I know, it bothers me too)
- We are still doing research on if there will be singing (I know, it bothers me too)
- There will not be Sunday school or Nursery or fellowship time (I will miss the donuts too)
There are other details that we will share with you in the coming weeks. Please know we are doing everything we can to create not just a safe place, but a sacred place where we can worship God both in person and online. You are the church, and wherever you are let us be the church.
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Cory Britt