Dearest Hope Family,
Several weeks ago I asked for your prayers as the Session (along with the church staff and COVID Advisory Team) navigated the thorny path of how to proceed with gatherings for worship, prayer, fellowship, and study. With the advent of shorter days and cooler weather the luxury of meeting outdoors has been fading all too quickly, and we were hoping to have clarity about creatively and safely moving forward with those gatherings. Being able to offer an outdoor option that is safely distanced and not requiring face coverings allowed for some to enjoy a greater freedom of participation beyond indoor and livestreamed services and Zoom meetings for smaller groups.
Coming out of our Session meeting this week, I can report that we were able to reach a conclusion on several fronts. We passed these recommendations but not without feeling the weight and volatility of the matters in question:
- Follow the CDC guidelines for use of masks/face coverings for small group indoor gatherings at the church: use a mask when meeting indoors for a small group as well as practice the physical distancing guidelines. This supplements the policy for corporate worship already in place. As far as outdoor gatherings are concerned, we encourage folks to practice the distancing guidelines recommended by the CDC.
- Continue to offer an outdoor worship service option in addition to the livestreamed and in-person options already in place on Sunday morning. We will continue to strive to offer the option of the livestream.
- After the November 1st Vespers Service, make the indoor and outdoor worship services share the same content as much as possible.
The only remaining decision is the timing of the outdoor worship option, about which we hope to receive feedback from the congregation before making the final call. We hope to have those pieces in place for November 8th!
So please be on the lookout for a short survey this coming week (most likely Wednesday) that we hope will give us some insight and direction about the limiting factors for participation in corporate worship services – whether it be childcare, timing of the services, “feel” of the service, or relative safety of gathering for worship.
Please do keep praying along with us and please know that we welcome any feedback or ideas along the way!
Grace and peace,