A blustery, soaking wet day to You, dear Church!
Fall is a time of both glory days and glum days, and today is definitely on the wet and soggy end of things. I hope you’re warm and cozy inside, or have mud boots to keep your feet dry if you venture outside today.
This last Sunday I had the day off, and you worshiped with the Ogdensburg congregation for our Sunday service. How did it go? You had a bird’s eye view of what an in-person service can look like, and I wonder what it was like for you. Session met last night and we took up discussion about the possibility of our own return to the building for in-person worship services. We agreed that when we come back we, like the Ogdensburg church, will have to adapt our services. We talked about a number of things that we will need to change, and we put together a plan for what our services might look like. But we currently don’t have a timeline for when we might return because we want to hear from you first. This coming week I will send out a short survey to ask for your opinion about when coming back to the building makes the most sense for our people.
To prepare you ahead of time, however, I will tell you about a few things that we already know will be different while we continue to live with Covid-19. When we come back, we will:
1. Worship in the Center, rather than in the sanctuary.
We will do this for a number of reasons. It will be safer for us to meet in the center because we have a special filtration system installed there that filters our viral particles from the air. It will maintain a more sustainable schedule for our custodian Ron to keep, while he is required to disinfect everything to the Nth degree. It will keep both us and Head Start families safer because we will not be traipsing through their classrooms each week and using their bathroom. It will also protect our organ, which cannot be disinfected with strong cleaning agents.
2. We will not sing any hymns together until a time when it is safe to do so, but we will have music for our prelude, anthem, and postlude (and hopefully some other special music!). In like manner, we will also wait until a later time to pass the peace with one another.
3. We will set up chairs in the center so that we are appropriately socially distanced from one another, and we will wear masks while we are in the building.
4. We will not have coffee hour in the building after the service until a time when it is safe to do so.
These are important measures that Session felt we need to enact to keep our people safe, but we also know that we cannot make these important decisions entirely without you. Will you be thinking this week about the safety needs of your family? Hopefully I’ll have the survey out to you by this coming Tuesday, so that you can communicate what your particular needs and opinions are on the subject.
Speaking of coffee hour– we will attempt to hold one last coffee hour in October out on the lawn, but we will write it in pencil on the calendar rather than in pen. If the weather is warm and dry for Sunday, Oct. 11, we will meet at noon. If not, we’ll try again for another Sunday.
Later this month we will also continue on with learning more about racism and how it functions in our society. Our denomination is in the process of putting together a series of documentaries on the subject, and the first one has recently come out. Later in October (date still to be determined), we will gather together over Facebook to watch the first movie in the series, and then the following week we will host a discussion about the movie over zoom that you will be welcome to join.
Friends, with the election bearing down on us, concern for the safety of our country’s minorities at an all-time high, so many of our citizens out west and down south struggling with disaster, and Covid still an ever-present danger, there is much to weigh us down. But let us not lose heart. God is still on the throne! And we know that nothing can separate us from the love God has for us– not death, nor hardship or distress, not persecution and peril, neither the present or the future, nor the powers that be. Nothing can part us from the love and care of God!
So, in the words of the writer of Hebrews:
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Keep breathing in the Spirit!