At the end of April, we established an Opening Up Task Force to explore, recommend, and help safely implement a way forward for us as a congregation now that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are being eased and more things are “opening up.” At its May meeting, the Session was happy to approve a series of recommendations that we are confident will guide us through the summer months. Before I share the plan, it’s important for us to manage expectations, remain flexible, and know that all we are planning is subject to change. This is all new territory for all of us. While there is a strong urge to “get back to normal,” we all know that there’s no going back to normal any time soon. In so many areas of our lives we are being asked to embrace a “new normal.” The same is true for the church. We are entering into something altogether new. All the more reason for us to exercise an enormous amount of grace, patience, and compassion.
HERE’S IS THE PLAN, STARTING IN JUNE:
We will continue to record worship on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. and post the service on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m., on both Facebook and YouTube. When the time is right, particularly from a technological standpoint, we will transition back to Sunday worship over the summer, which will be livestreamed.
In the meantime, will start welcoming members and friends to join us for worship on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Initially, we will make space for thirty participants and envision this number gradually increasing over the summer. This number will be based on several factors (infection rate in Maryland, number of people vaccinated, the safety level of worship leaders, etc.). A reservation system will be set up for you to reserve your seat(s), both online and by calling the church office (details to follow). Masks will be required. Safe distance will be required. Safety ushers will take your temperature at the door and pass out screening questionnaires which will be filled out upon entry. Restrooms will be not be available. No food or drink will be allowed. Childcare will not be provided, but children will be welcome to attend. Parents will need to keep their children close throughout the service. And, sadly, singing will not be allowed.
THE FIRST TWO SUNDAYS IN JUNE WILL be a “dress rehearsal” for us, a kind of “soft opening,” as they say in the restaurant trade, with a targeted audience. Saturday, June 5 is the first Sunday for our new organist, Christopher Keenan, and so we thought it would be nice to have our choir members present that morning to meet Chris and welcome him to CPC. Then, on Saturday, June 12, we will invite Elders, Deacons, and Trustees to join us. These two Sundays will be a “test run.” We will look to those in attendance on these days to provide feedback, share their experience, etc., so that we’re prepared to welcome others.
WORSHIP ON SUNDAYS JUNE 20 AND 27 WILL BE VIA ZOOM. Kathy and Keith Glennan will be away on vacation those weekends. Using the Zoom platform will make it easier for us. We will resume recording worship on Saturday, July 3 at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the month. (No Zoom worship on July 11.) On Tuesday morn- ings each week, starting at 9 a.m., you may reserve your space in worship for the following Sunday.
THE SANCTUARY WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR MEMORIAL AND FUNERAL SERVICES. We’re keeping the number to thirty participants (with all the same requirements as above, except for requiring reservations), but believe this number will increase over the summer too. The church building and Church House remain closed for meetings. Groups may gather outdoors at any time (masks and safe distance required).
FINALLY, THE OPENING UP TASK FORCE IS PUTTING TOGETHER A SURVEY. Look for it over the next couple of weeks. We have several important questions to ask the congregation, questions that will help us plan and make decisions as we move forward.
If you have questions, thoughts, comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dorothy and me or reach out to a member of the Session. Step by step, we lean into the future. Yes, this is all new for us, but we know that the Lord is ahead of us leading the way.