June 12, 2020
In the midst of this pandemic we have learned a lot about ourselves. We have learned that being separated is not the same as being alone. We have learned that being quarantined in our homes does not keep us from seeing those we love. We have learned that being the church has very little to do with how often we come inside our building.
If you are like me, you probably miss the activity and fellowship that is an inherent part of OPC. The vibrancy of Sunday morning worship, the smiling faces at coffee fellowship, the active hands and voices that cannot wait to get out into the community and serve others. But we have been sheltered in for a reason and the building has been closed for the safety of all. And in the midst of that, we have learned that we can still be an active, vital church even when we worship at home, or send mission dollars from a distance, or help out in the community wearing masks and hope.
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.
Last month your session appointed a Covid-19 Response Task Force. This group of elders has been assigned to consider all the factors that will facilitate our return to our building and to eventually determine a schedule for our return. No dates have been determined yet, but the Task Force has established several primary goals – 1) Preparing our building for occupancy, including cleaning, disinfecting, and other factors, 2) Resumption of in-person worship, 3) Allowing meetings, activities, and Christian Education, and 4) Use of the building by outside groups, including God’s Gifts Preschool.
Obviously safety is our primary concern and we will be watching local trends and the spread of the virus very carefully. We will also be considering state and national guidelines, suggestions from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the integrity of the work and worship of our local church. We all want to resume our activities as soon as possible, 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.
I am pleased that 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. Even our virtual communion was well received. 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.
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.
As all the factors are considered, your session will determine a timeline for our return to the building. You can be sure that we will keep you informed every step along the way. If you see other churches in the area starting to open up, keep in mind that every situation is different and that in many cases those things that make in-person worship so enjoyable for us are not possible right now. Imagine worship without congregational singing, without communion, without greeting your neighbor, without sitting together, without visiting on the way out, certainly without our coffee fellowship time. Hopefully time, science, and prayer will solve some of these problems and enable us to safely gather and praise our God together in the near future.
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,