A month ago as I wrote my letter to you for the Pilgrim Post, I said, “I am asked more and more often these days when things will get back to normal. In fact, I find myself wondering the same thing sometimes. But if by normal we mean back to the way things were, I suspect the answer is never.”
Here we are, another month down the road of adjusting to pandemic, and I suspect my answer would be the same. I want to elaborate on two parts of that.
The first is that if “normal” only means worshiping in person in our sanctuary, we are still not close to being able to tell you. We are working on figuring out how to do that safely, and the Governing Board, meeting last night for the first time since February, in person, spaced out in Fellowship Hall, had a vigorous discussion about that. If we maintain appropriate physical distance, our sanctuary can accommodate 52 “spaces.” That could be more than 52 people if some of those spaces are filled by multiple members of the same household, but still not a huge number. We would ask people to wear masks, there would be no congregational singing, no hobnobbing in the hallway before and after, no gathering in the Fellowship Hall. Not exactly what most of us are longing for.
But the second point is that our whole way of “doing” and “being” church is likely to look very different from here on out. Figuring that out is going to be the challenge that makes or breaks us, I think. If we are collectively open to the Spirit’s guidance, I believe we can discover that new way together. If not, we may well be in the same category as dodos and dinosaurs. I don’t think that is what we want. And I don’t believe it is God’s intention. But as I sit in my air-conditioned office, contemplating the challenges facing our ancestors, it doesn’t seem so insurmountable. At least not compared to many of the things they had to deal with just to get safely through another day.
So we move forward. I want to urge you to come and be a part of the congregational meeting we are scheduling for noon on the 19th of July. (Rain date is July 26, same time). We will be on the lawn, spaced at least six feet apart. Bring your mask and a lawn chair if you are able. We will provide for those who can’t bring their own. Members of the congregation will be electing new representatives to our Board and our Departments. We will be voting on some amendments that will make it easier for us to meet and get our business done in these, or other unforeseen, extraordinary times. And we will be asking you to authorize a spending plan for July through September, based on our estimates of giving and our actual experience of the last quarter of this fiscal year.
Big stuff. I hope to see you there.
Grace and peace to you all…
Graphic by United Nations COVID-19 Response, via Unsplash