Dear friends in Christ,
I hope you’re all doing well and staying cool this lovely day. Here are some updates with things going on in the life of the church:
Indoor Worship Resumes This Sunday 5/30
As cases have fallen in our town for the past two weeks, we are set to resume indoor worship this Sunday 5/30! (There is no outdoor service this Sunday.) We’re going to be giving some of our Sunday school students their Bibles this week.
For now, Church Council has decided to retain everyone wearing masks and social distancing. Children are currently unvaccinated, and we didn’t want to get into the business of asking people to disclose vaccination status. Plus, what people are comfortable with is all over the map, so for now we’re keeping masks and social distancing. (I also encourage everyone to get vaccinated if you’re able!)
As we’ve been doing with outdoor services, we’re asking people to sign up ahead of time if possible. With social distancing, there is a capacity limit of about 70 people, and having sign ups ahead of time will make things go smoother on Sunday morning. You can sign up here or by contacting the church office. You will also be able to sign up at the door. Please arrive some minutes early to allow time to check in with the ushers.
Some things for worship will be a bit different from when we were last inside. I’ve attached a bullet list document of some of the differences. For now, we’re holding off on congregational singing, choir, and passing the plate. if you’ve been to an outdoor service or watched the livestream, worship on Sunday is essentially going to look like that except indoors with people.
Church Council is going to review our COVID precautions on a monthly basis to give us some consistency but also regular opportunity to make updates. I expect as things improve and more people are vaccinated, we’ll phase out precautions and phase back in aspects of worship, like singing. I ask for grace and patience from everyone as we figure things out and navigate through this transition time.
Sunday School and Nursery Care
Sunday school is going to remain outdoors these last few Sundays of the program year (weather permitting.) Children will start out in worship with their parents. In case of rain, Sunday school will be canceled. Things will be reevaluated for the fall.
Nursery care will also be outdoors at the preschool playground, but in case of poor weather will move indoors to the nursery.
Looking Back on These Past 14 Months
As we look forward to moving back inside on Sunday, I made a video looking back at some of our journey during these past 14 months with pictures of many of the things we’ve done to worship, learn, and stay connected. It also looks forward to us returning home on Sunday:
Strawberry Festival (to go!) 6/13
One of the traditions of our church is our Strawberry Festival. Last year we had to cancel due to COVID, but this year we’re back! We’re going to have Strawberry Shortcake to go on Sunday 6/13 from 5-7:30. I’ve attached a flyer. Come and get your shortcake to take home or to enjoy outside on the green!
I’ve attached some photos from our last outdoor service this past Sunday with scenes from confirmation and Sunday school. Thank you to all our volunteers and staff who have made these outdoor services happen these past couple months. And additional thanks to everyone who has been sprucing up the building for us to return indoors!
This past Sunday the Old Testament lesson from the prophet Ezekiel was the Lord showing Ezekiel a valley of dry bones and asking “can these dry bones live.” It’s a rhetorical question from God, and during the course of the lesson, all the bones are resurrected into living human beings again.
The point of God doing this was to give Ezekiel hope in the promise that the exiled Israelites would be able to go home and their nation would be restored.
Over the past 14 months, we’ve been on our own exile of sorts. I’ve heard a lot of worry and anxiety about the future of our church and what things are going to look like. Now, the truth is none of us knows what the future will hold, but it is important to recognize how well we have held together in this trying time. Many people have continued to pledge, upped their pledge, made a contribution for the first time, and so many people have consistently given their time to the church throughout this period. We have bee able to retain and pay all of our staff and renovate a lot of our building. All of these things are good news for us now, and I believe good signs for the future.
I don’t know what our future will be like, but I do know that if God can make those dry bones live, then there is certainly hope for us. Our God makes the impossible, possible, and I don’t think we’re facing anything impossible at the moment. Our bones aren’t all dried up. (Perhaps they might be a little tired! But, that’s not the same thing.)
Our God has been with us during all of these past months and is with us still as we take these next steps into the future. As the apostle Paul writes: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”- Romans 15:13