The Elders at their meeting on Monday valiantly waded, yet again, into the questions about how Old First can best be of service during pandemic precautions.
This time, their focus was worship. One of the goals is to make the in-person worship more accessible for more people. We believe that is both about timing and how Old First is conducting the service.
The first decision is that masked, distanced and outdoors, the Elders believe that worshipers can now speak through their masks as part of the liturgy. That means that we will hear multiple voices during the Words of Gathering, the Prayer of Confession and the Affirmation of Faith. We are still not going to sing congregationally, but the Elders have accepted Holly’s suggestion that people can safely hum along with the hymn.
The second decision is about timing. We are going to move the in-person service to 10 am. It will still be outdoors in the front courtyard. We will still distance and mask, but the timing might make it more accessible for folks. Currently, there is no sign-up necessary, and we have relaxed parking.
There is also a discussion about restarting Sunday School as an in-person class during that 10 am service. But we won’t know more until Michael has spoken with the parents of our Sunday Schoolers.
Moving the in-person service means we need to change the time of the online service too. Starting on October 3, the online service will begin on zoom at 11:30 am.
We are currently planning to remain outside as long as the temperature permits. It is still our hope that we might be able to get the Sanctuary finished in time that it will be available when it’s too cold to worship outdoors.
The Elders feel that we can make worship in the Sanctuary safe with social distancing, masks, air exchange and liturgical adjustments (as we have made for the outdoor service).
But say your prayers — the delay on getting the construction permit from License and Inspections really put us behind schedule, and the Sanctuary will only be done in the next 6 weeks or so if there are absolutely no delays. The Elders have not decided what will happen if we do not have the Sanctuary ready, and it’s too cold to worship outside. The Worship SLG talked tentatively about simply returning to only online worship until the Sanctuary is completed.
One more decision to help us notice these changes. As you will see from the schedule in this E-pistle:
~ This coming Sunday is the same schedule we have had since July: 9 am outdoors and 11 am online.
~ Next Sunday, Anniversary Sunday, September 26, we will all be together online at 11 am. Bob Schneider is going to tell us about the “Open Bible” that currently adorns “the inside” of the reredos. That’s important, as the congregation needs to decide how that space will be decorated in our current renovation.
~ The following week, Sunday, October 3, we will switch to the new schedule: 10 am outdoor worship and 11:30 online.
We will stick with that until we have to change again! There are a lot of moving parts, church, but we’ll make it through…