It was wonderful to join in a meaningful MotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day worship experience last week and to see several folks during our afternoon open house. Step by step, we are moving closer to re-entry, and it feels good! If you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already, please take some time to complete the ListenerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s survey. This will help our church as we plan not only for re-opening, but the next chapter of our life together.
It is our hope and plan to re-open worship in our sanctuary in July. More details will be available in the coming weeks on what that will look like. I realize that while some are comfortable with that schedule, others may be wondering why we are waiting so long, as more and more places are opening up. I can certainly understand the impatience. It has been too long since weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been together!
At the same time, there are several reasons why the slower pace may be to our collective benefit. For one, the state of Vermont has made clear that by July, all Vermonters who are able to receive a vaccine will have had the opportunity to do so. While many of us have been fully vaccinated for months, that is not true of our entire congregation or community (or at this point, for your pastor!). Allowing everyone equal opportunity to receive a vaccine is an act of community care, a value UCU holds dearly.
We also expect that come July, we may be less limited in what we are able to do in-person than we would be at an earlier date. For example, room capacity limits are expected to lift on July 4, which will make it easier to offer a welcoming in-person experience for all who desire it.
We also recognize that while virtual worship has been a barrier to some (be it via access or preference), it has opened the door for others to join in despite distance, health challenges, or other extenuating circumstances. We have already received feedback that an ongoing virtual worship option is desired, and so we will be using the next couple of weeks to install and test equipment that will allow for simultaneous in-person and virtual worship.
Re-entry considerations are complex and many layered. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for any church or faith community. The New England Conference of the United Methodist Church recently held a webinar that laid out these complexities while also providing excellent counsel in terms of worship, work with youth and children, and general public health considerations. I highly, highly recommend to everyone this 90-minute video recording and resource page from Dr. Marcy. This slide also includes several links to presentation resources. I hope these provide some insight into all that is going into the planning and decision making for the next several months.
I am grateful for your prayerful support as we navigate these changes together.
With love and thankfulness,