Worship in the Field
By Rev. Cindy Marino
Sunday, July 5, at 10:30 a.m., we will gather for worship in our field, just as they did in the days of John Wesley. I will be so excited to meet you under the trees in the warmth of a summer morning to lift our praise and worship to God – a safe distance from one another, of course!
We’ll ask that you come with your own seating, masks, hand sanitizer, shade umbrellas, and willingness to abide by the protocol for physical distancing (click here for guidelines to attend worship). We will not be singing together, but we will pray, hear the message brought by Pastor Daniel and worship through the music of Dan Wagner and Lynn Leitzen. We will safely celebrate Holy Communion and be reminded that even without the hugs we so long for, we are the body of Christ.
To stay within the guidelines for the numbers of people gathered, we will need to ask you to register (click here to register now) in advance for this worship opportunity. We are limited to 100 people, including those leading and assisting in worship. Children will need to stay with their parents at all times. We will have accessible seating in the lower parking lot for those unable to negotiate the stairs to the field.
We are working to be able to record and possibly live-stream this outdoor service so that those unable to attend can view it as well, along with our regularly scheduled video worship which will also be available.
We will schedule another time of worship for the first Sunday in August and the first Sunday of September, again, dependent upon the status of COVID-19. We hope to return to weekly limited worship in the Sanctuary by mid-September. Please stay connected for further information.
Survey Results and Worship in the Sanctuary
We are grateful to all who responded to the survey we sent to assess your readiness to return to worship. We received about 300 responses, a reliable representation of the congregation. In general, according to the survey, 41 percent of respondents are ready to return if we can provide the necessary precautions; 29 percent prefer to wait several weeks, possibly to gauge what happens with COVID-19 positivity rates; 22 percent said it will be quite a while before you can consider coming back. That tells me it’s important to find ways to move ahead with worship, and it’s also important to continue to include those who can’t come back in person just yet.
So, this outdoor service is a start. It provides a low-risk way back for those who are ready. It buys us some time as we carefully discern what’s happening with COVID-19 for the safety of all. We are gradually, cautiously moving forward. But we are moving forward!
Another question I’m hearing is whether we will continue to offer stay-at-home worship options.
These survey results affirm for me that it is very important to do so. As I suspected, you are divided in how you think you might best participate in worship in these circumstances:
34 % prefer to continue viewing the edited worship video at your convenience. It’s great to be able to come back to that at any point during the week.
34% would prefer to stay home to view worship live-streamed from the Sanctuary on Sunday morning. Of course, there needs to be a service in the Sanctuary for that to happen.
31% want to worship in the Sanctuary in person, regardless of the inconvenience or restrictions.
So, we’re listening and working to provide those three options. I think 100 percent of us would choose to go back to what we’ve always known, but that’s not one of the options right now. We all know there are still uncertainties. We all know that as many people start traveling again, this area’s relatively low infection rate will be impacted by higher numbers elsewhere. We want to be out and about again and as we do so, that will make a difference as well.
So, for now, we will move forward gradually, cautiously toward in-person worship in the Sanctuary. We are grateful for the beautiful outdoor space that offers us a lower risk option, while we savor the days of summer and gauge our progress in Phase Four of the battle against COVID-19. May you all take advantage of this time to reconnect with family, make up for lost vacation time, de-stress, regroup and re-enter into the community with caution.