February 26, 2021
An Update on Our Response to the Covid-19 Crisis
I know how tired you are of dealing with this pandemic and yet we have all learned that safety is the most important consideration when dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. Every month the OPC Covid 19 Task Force meets to discuss our situation and how we can best be prepared for reentering our building for worship, meetings and service. Your session values their input and readily considers each of their recommendations.
Nearly every day I am asked, “When can we return? When can we worship together in one place? When can we get back to normal?” They are good questions and we are striving toward that goal, but for now the answer is “not yet.” There are many factors to consider and the safety of our members is our number one priority.
Thankfully our online worship services have been well received and well attended. Our worship team has done a great job of bringing vital worship into our homes and actually replicating the vibrancy that we have come to expect from our in-person worship services. We have experienced Easter and Christmas in a different way this year, but the time will come when we can worship together in the same space. Until then, remember that we are a strong community of faith and these services have enabled us to live together as the Body of Christ in the midst of trying circumstances. And later, for those who cannot make it to church or are concerned about their health and safety, we are committed to continuing our Livestream services as a part of our regular ministry, even after we return to the sanctuary.
To this point your Task Force has taken a number of important steps in preparing OPC for a return to normal, including 1) policies and procedures for sanitizing our facility after every use, 2) protocols for returning to worship in our sanctuary, with consideration for the rules set out by the State of Illinois, the CDC, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 3) development of procedures that will allow for smaller special events, including limited music rehearsals in the coming weeks, 4) consideration for use of classroom space for Sunday School, youth groups, and other meetings in the future, 5) concern for the future and safety of God’s Gifts Preschool as they prepare to resume classes. As you can see, there are a number of considerations and moving parts involved in reengaging our church fully in the face of Covid-19 and we are being proactive about every stage.
Obviously safety is our primary concern and we will be watching local trends and the status of the virus very carefully. The return to the classroom in our local school districts and the continuing process of vaccinations are both encouraging signs. We are all anxious to return to life together, but we want to do so in ways that protect our most vulnerable members, that reflect the vibrancy and ethos of OPC, and that bring glory to God.
Returning to worship is on everyone’s mind, but it is important to remember that beginning in-person worship is more complicated than simply unlocking the doors and turning on the lights. Our considerations include seating limitations, processes for taking temperatures, developing a system for making reservations, and adapting our services to reflect the other restrictions we face. If you see that some other churches have been offering limited in-person worship, remember that they have to live with restrictions as well. Worship will be different for a while. Imagine services without congregational singing, without communion, without greeting your neighbor, without sitting together, without visiting on the way out, certainly without our coffee fellowship time. Many of the things that you have enjoyed about worship in the past will have to wait.
To answer your most pressing question, we have not set a date for beginning in-person worship again. But we are getting closer and hopefully that wait will not be too long.
Hang in there. We are all in this together. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime. Even though the building is closed, I am still available for prayer and pastoral care and would love to hear from you by phone or email. In the meantime, I look forward to “seeing” you every Sunday for our live online worship services.
Yours in Christ,