We wanted to write with a pastoral update about our plans for what church will look like as the CDC changes guidelines, vaccination rates increase and we continue to seek to be faithful during these pandemic times.
When can we worship in person and inside? The SpringHouse Re-Opening Task Force met recently to discuss our plan. The big picture: we are hopeful to be able to worship indoors and in person at some point this fall with our goal being October. However, this is contingent on everyone being eligible for vaccination, including small children. This is, of course, a moving target. We are juggling guidelines from the state, the city and our denominations. We are also in the process of discerning and planning the building and technology improvements and protocols we will need to keep everyone as safe as possible and keep worship accessible online. We are making the road while walking, so to speak.
When can we meet as small groups in the building again? The SpringHouse Re-Opening Task Force met recently to discuss our plan. We are working in the infrastructural issues around our building we will need to have in place before we can schedule any small groups. We are hopeful we may be open to small group reservations some time in July. We will keep you posted.
What are we doing in the meantime this summer? We have heard loud and clear an abundance of desire for in person gathering. We have also heard that zoom is working relatively well for worship and perhaps better than in person for some church business meetings. This summer, beginning June 13th, we will worship outdoors in person with an online option on 2nd and 4th Sundays. Starting on June 23rd, we will have spiritual practice gatherings in person and outdoors (no zoom option) on 1st and 3rd Wednesdays. We will share more details soon. Committees and teams may discern what format works best for their needs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need worship connection information.
Do we need to mask when we gather outdoors for church events? We are choosing to follow the wisdom of our tradition that centers the needs of the most vulnerable. In the words of one of our UCC Conference ministers: “Churches right now include many unvaccinated people, including young children who are ineligible for vaccination at this time. If we are serious in our welcome of all God’s people, we should provide an environment which helps them feel safe, without needing to guess at the vaccination status of those they gather with. Our prayerful recommendation is that masks remain a standard tool for church gatherings, rather than separate vaccine “haves” from vaccine “have nots.”” This means we will all mask at Sunday hybrid worship and full church gatherings, even outdoors, for the time being. Small groups meeting outdoors may determine a practice of hospitality around masking and social distance that respect the needs of the individuals in the group.
Thank you for continued support, care and thoughtfulness during this time of great transition and challenge. We are beyond grateful to make this winding road of healing and justice and joy with you each.
In peace and hope,
Rev. Ashley and Rev. Rebecca
In consultation with Claire Klein (Moderator) and Paul Thuras (Vice Moderator and Lyndale representative to SpringHouse Re-Entry Team)