September 9, 2020 Update
Earlier this summer, the COVID team determined that we would refrain from any in-person gatherings at the church during the summer months, including worship and meetings. During this time, we’ve been able to host vibrant virtual ministries and connecting while staying apart.
We’ve shown that we can be the church even when we’re not gathering together in our building. Through prayer, discernment, and statistics, we have determined that it is still unwise for us to return to in-person worship on Sunday mornings. After discussing the safety and the science, we asked ourselves “how would this benefit our ministry?” While we miss seeing one another, the reality of returning to in-person worship on Sundays would mean enough changes that it wouldn’t feel like the way we do church:
- There would be no singing
- There would be no passing of the peace
- We wouldn’t be able to have coffee hour and socialize
- We would have to limit how many people would be allowed
Most importantly, we wouldn’t want to put anyone in our community at risk. Rather than offer a quiet, music-less, limited worship space, we recognize that we continue to accommodate more than 60 people each week on virtual worship through Facebook Live and Zoom with music and virtual choir.
For this reason, Sunday mornings will remain virtual.
However, safety measures have been put in place so that people may return to the building in limited ways. State guidelines limit the capacity of people in reach room of the church significantly (for example, under current guidelines as of August 25, we can only accommodate 7 people in the Chapel), masks are required at all times while in the building, and instructions for sanitization help keep our space clean and safe. Three new hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed (two by the bathrooms up by the Town Hall Parking Lot entrance, and one by the office).
Small groups and ministries are allowed to schedule a room with the office to meet in-person. The office will be scheduling outside groups and church groups with timing, occupancy, and distance in mind so that there won’t be too many people in the building at once. If your ministry or group would like to return to meeting in-person, we ask that you ask the following:
- Would meeting in-person help the ministry of our group?
- Is everyone in the group comfortable with meeting in person?
Please contact the office if your group would like to inquire about scheduling an in-person meeting in the church. Please limit the number of people in your group to a maximum of 10, wear masks at all times, and attempt to limit your time together.
We will also offer small outdoor prayer services this fall. Beginning September 23, there will be a Wednesday evening prayer service held in an outdoor space every other Wednesday. We recognize that the ministry of Sunday morning versus a small prayer circle serve different purposes. These small and short outdoor gatherings will allow people to see one another from a distance and feel connected. However virtual church on Sunday mornings will allow us to engage with music and themes in a different way. These two mediums of worship address different spiritual needs.
Olde Redding Express will replace the activities of the Faire – including a virtual Silent Auction and more. Members of the church have been working hard to accommodate state and town guidelines to be able to continue to offer this annual tradition. Stay tuned.
The COVID team will continue to discern our path forward. While we don’t know when we’ll be able to return to in-person gatherings like we used to, we’re optimistic about the creativity and the connection we’ve maintained over the past 6 months or so during this pandemic. We also ask that you continue to pray for the discernment of this group.
Peace and blessings,
Rev Emelia Attridge, Barbara Philbrick, Mark Johnson, Betsy Schneider, and Anastasia Kidd