On the Day of Pentecost, May 31, we finally began the slow process of regathering as a church for corporate worship. For the next month or so, we are offering three said Morning Prayer services (no Eucharist) at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 a.m. So far, things have gone extremely well, as those who decided to regather have been diligent to observe our initial guidelines for regathering that were put in place.
A live feed of the 9:45 service is also being provided online for those who choose to remain home at this time. Many of our restrictions will ease in the months to come, but we will still inevitably be experiencing a “new normal” for longer than any of us would like. Let us together, then, prepare our hearts so that this new reality will neither dampen our spirits nor cool our passion for Christ and his Kingdom.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
As these are such unusual times, questions inevitably continue to arise about our regathering plan. Here are some of the more common questions being asked along with our attempt to help clarify.
Why can’t we simply ask people to decide for themselves whether or not they will wear a mask? We decided from the beginning that Jesus’ command “to love your neighbor as yourself” would drive our decision making. While one person might feel safe not wearing a mask, others will feel unsafe seeing people nearby not wearing masks. We choose, then, to love those around us by wearing a mask. Remember that wearing a mask isn’t primarily about protecting the one wearing it, but protecting others. It has been estimated that up to 80% of people who contracted the coronavirus were infected by someone who didn’t even know they had it. (Plus, our bishop is requiring all his churches to wear masks for now.)
What if my children refuse to wear masks or they play around with them so much it’s distracting? We understand how unusual this is for young children. If they are able to wear masks properly, that’s great. If it becomes too much of a challenge, please don’t let that hinder you from attending. Simply keep your child close to you at all times.
Why can’t we go ahead and ease many of these restrictions since the coronavirus will be with us for a long time, and especially since the infection numbers in Madison County are relatively low? It’s true that we are choosing to move slowly as we begin to regather. Part of the reason for us doing so is because it helps create a new culture for gathering together that will be with us for months to come. We did not want to rush into things not knowing how quickly our people would be ready to regather. As we take things slowly, this will assist everyone in catching on to the “new normal” that awaits us.
Are the restrooms completely closed? No, not at all. We are asking people to plan ahead to minimize the use of our restrooms, but they are open and available if needed.
Can we improve the quality of the 9:45 video feed? We were able to improve the audio quality so those at home can clearly follow along with the service; however, we do not intend to create a slick online video that creates the “feel” of actually being present at the service. This is only a temporary measure to keep people connected to our services while also making them “feel” that something significant is missing when physically absent.
When will we offer Holy Eucharist again? We are tentatively planning to have Sunday Holy Eucharist services again beginning in August. In the meantime, Private Communion in the Nave is available by appointment.