Being a part of a congregation and community would be so much easier if we could just get this whole communications thing down pat. But every organization wonders about and works on how communication can be improved. Improving how we communicate and improving what we communicate… it’s always a challenge.
Which is all to say, we’ve heard you! We know communication has been even more challenging without our old patterns of gathering in person and having someone in the main church office to answer the phone most days.
The pandemic decision to do all church work outside the building and from our homes was a clear and necessary decisive moment. The questions about what we’re doing as a church and what emerging from this pandemic time will look like are hard to answer. Not because of lack of information (although watch those Weekly Emails and Church and Home and the website! We’re trying to keep you up to date!); it’s difficult because re-gathering in person is a process.
What your pastors have noticed in ourselves, and what we’re heard from many of you, is that just being present with others in person is an adjustment. Being
in the sanctuary together for an open house, or gathering in person in a small group is a complex experience. There are more and different logistical things to think through for every event and, of course, there’s still the constant worry that with a single news cycle all of our plans will have to change.
So we’re taking it slow and wading in instead of jumping in. We’re re-learning how to gather and play together by having informal time on the playground or in the sanctuary. The choir is re-learning how to feel comfort and safety while singing in the same space. This past Seabeck week was a blend of online and in-person activities. Just yesterday we had our first meal together in over 20 months!
And as we add in these in-person activities we are taking the time to prepare our physical church spaces to incorporate the technological lessons we’ve learned this past year. We remain committed to being a radically inclusive community and we are not planning on leaving any child or vulnerable person behind. On a pre-pandemic Sunday, roughly ¼ of those gathered do not have access to vaccination or remain at risk for other health reasons.
We’ve done a lot of adapting these past 20 months… and your staff and church leadership are working hard to do the continued work of adaptation to help the next transitions go as smoothly as possible.
We are looking to live into a new schedule this fall that allows for in-person worship and digital worship. We’re working on getting all the technology and building adaptations necessary so that things look familiar, are easy to use, and we’re able to connect even when we can’t all be in the same room. Some of these changes will feel very specific to a particular day and time when, perhaps, for you, church will suddenly seem “back” or “open again.” But in truth, this is a process. Even when we gather for the first Sunday when both in-person and digital worship will be offered…that’s really more of a beginning than an ending! Or another layer as we emerge into 21st Century Post-Pandemic church.
And God is with us as God has always been. God is not waiting for some special and specific moment for church to be “open” or for us to gather in person or have it all figured out. God is with us in all of these in-between feeling times. God is with us as we worry. God is with us as we plan. God is with us as we move boldly forward and when we tiptoe.
God is with us when we consciously take a deep breath to center ourselves and pay attention to the moment we’re in. And God is with us in all the breaths we take without giving it a moment’s thought.