It is hard to believe, but we are at the one-year point in suspending public worship because of the Covid-19 pandemic!
On March 15, 2020, we started making video recordings of our worship services and posting them on the Internet. (Thanks to Gary Bagley and Becky Portwood for pulling that off!) Beginning with that service we have recorded and shared 58 worship services in video form, including last year’s Holy Week and Christmas Eve services.
Barbara Luhn, our music director, and Linda Harding, our video production expert, have been wonderfully adaptive and committed to providing the best possible worship service videos for those who take part in the services via our YouTube channel. I am grateful for their generosity and professionalism and for the other choir members and musicians who have contributed their talents to sustaining our worship community.
Now let me address where we are and how we will move forward. Not long after we suspended public worship last March, the Session formed a Public Worship Task Force. Gwen Aumann (fellowship chairperson), Gary Bagley (parish associate), Walter Daves (worship chairperson), Barbara Luhn (music director), and I make up the group. The task force has met at least once a month and brought to the Session a monthly recommendation about public worship.
We are meeting more often now – for example, we met twice during the first week of March. Until now, the recommended course of action has been rather easy to determine. The task force was unambiguous about the importance of suspending public worship as a way to keep the members of our community safe and to avoid spreading Covid-19.
In our last couple of meetings, however, the course ahead has been less clear. Uncertainty about the future has become a cloud hovering over us. The conflict is this: we desperately want to get together, but we do not want to rush into gathering in person at a time and in a way that would undo all the sacrifices made and hard work done to stay safe from Covid-19 and its variants and to tamp down its spread.
Because of this pull in opposite directions, I do not have a clear path forward to offer you at this time other than to say that we will continue to suspend public worship through March and to provide worship service videos throughout the month. Those videos will include services for each Sunday of Lent and for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
We are planning to continue to offer a video service even after we start gathering again for public worship. We are exploring the installation of a new video camera mounted in the back of the church that would allow recording and possibly live-streaming of our services in the future. We are discussing other options to explore in the meantime, possibly including outdoor gatherings when the weather permits.
I wish I could present a clearer, more definitive view of the future. I do appreciate the faithfulness of this congregation in continuing to support our mission through your participation in the video services, through your prayers, and through your ongoing financial stewardship.
Peace to you all,