James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Mark 10:35-39a
I have some questions for you. Are you ready and willing to return to worship inside and in-person (distanced and masked)? Have you had a COVID-19 vaccine? If no, are you planning on getting the vaccine? These are the questions we’ve all been asking each other.
At our church, strategic ministry planning is an annual, on-going process. The question is how to apply the principles of strategic ministry planning in this ongoing and seemingly endless season of the coronavirus amidst the changing protocols we find ourselves in. We start where we always start – with mission. And what is our mission? Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And for extra credit in Spanish: Hacer discípulos de Jesucristo para la transformación del mundo.
This has not changed because of the pandemic, but the world around us and perhaps how we make disciples has changed. People are showing up to our virtual ministry settings at unprecedented levels; over 7,000 views per YouTube Stats! We are thinking about how we grow deeper in our discipleship in this virtual setting, and how to be in meaningful, virtual or hybrid large and small discipleship groups and committees. Our world has shifted, so to be a contextually relevant church fulfilling our mission to reach new people for Jesus, we must engage in our community in new ways.
This is our challenge and our gift. Can I get an amen? Amen!
It is within this context that we have developed a relaunch plan that has been approved by our Cal-Nevada Annual Conference to open in-person worship and ministry activities, as well as our extensive outreach in the community, as the restrictions continue to ease.
Of course, our overriding concern is the safety of everyone involved.
Last August – September, 2020 we conducted a detailed online survey of our members and friends about your feelings and expectations on how we would worship in the future in light of the pandemic. The results were revealing. Although a small percentage were ready to return right away, most indicated they did not plan to attend in-person worship until a vaccine becomes widely available, stay-at-home orders have been lifted and other public gathering have resumed.
Well folks, that time has come!
We are preparing our sanctuary to do worship in new ways. Our leadership has approved the installation of PTZ cameras (pan-tilt-zoom) and the necessary equipment to make ‘em work. Our online Editor Antonio Pantaleón is involved in this effort. We’ve also ordered another line for our Internet service, so we’ll soon have the capability to live stream worship from the sanctuary.
We’re moving in the right direction folks, both for you and our upcoming new pastor to come, as yet at the time of this publication, unknown. For more details on that please see my sermon dated May 16, 2021 “Hugging the Monster,” available online here or in print form from the church office.
We ask you to continue to keep us both in your prayers!
Here’s what’s coming next:
LAWN CHAIR- IN PERSON WORSHIP SERVICE
We are officially starting our outdoor Lawn Chair Service on Sunday, June 6th at 9:00 am. Leadership is doing a run-through practice session—come try it if you want to help—the week before on May 30.
Here’s what you need to know about the service:
- The Lawn Chair Service will be outdoors on the front lawn and under the “U” shaped breezeway on Stanford Street.
- Bring your own chair and dress warmly; the fog can be cold!
- A COVID-19 release must be signed, available here in English and in Spanish here.
- Masks are required to be worn at all times once on campus.
- Keep 6 feet distance from those outside your household.
- There will be no bulletins or handouts.
- We will not collect tithes or offerings, so please continue to give online, drop your check off in an envelope through the office door mail slot or send in via mail.
- There will be no access to the buildings or restrooms.
- The service will be 20-30 minutes.
- We will set up a piano and sound system outside.
- Our Music Director Mike Locke-Paddon will lead us in songs played by our pianist Marina Thomas, so feel free to sing along if you know the tunes!
- We are excited to worship safely with you once again.
In addition, on Sunday, June 6, 2021 a limited form of in-person worship will resume at 10:30 am at 50% capacity to watch the pre-recorded streamed service according to current state guidelines. All indoor guests at this point must wear a mask and social distance between families. A trained team of volunteers will be responsible for implementing and monitoring healthy hygiene behaviors. A signed release for COVID will also be required.
Signage has already been developed and placed in appropriate areas as members enter campus and the worship space per county guidelines, including mask and social distancing requirements, and reminders of healthy hygiene practices. We are following strict workplace standards including mandatory self-check for COVID symptoms and the requirement to stay home when ill. These apply to all of us. We also have new waterless hand cleaning stations installed by the Trustees throughout the buildings.
In lieu of hymnals and bulletins, we encourage everyone to follow our in-doors service on their personal digital devices and/or screens within the sanctuary. We will have an offering box to establish touchless giving. Pre-packaged communion elements have been obtained, and will be hygienically placed on seats before service.
Congregating before and after worship will not be permitted on church property at this time. Children will be welcome and engaged in our service with their families. Caregivers will be permitted to exit the service with their children as needed, however the church nursery will remain closed at this time.
Attendees not following safety requirements will provided with a mask or asked to leave if they are not willing to comply. We will supply free masks, if needed.
We’re so looking forward to welcoming you all back to our indoor and outdoor in-person services! With the health and safety of our entire church family being of paramount importance, and in accordance with government regulations, we’re on track to be together very soon.
Please know that there is no pressure for anyone to return to “in-person” worship. If you are anxious and do not feel the time is right, or you have concerns because you feel it might put you or a family member at risk, please continue to watch our prerecorded online services from home, and return at a time when you are most comfortable. In fact, if you are considered “high risk” should you contract COVID, we encourage you to remain at home and enjoy the service online, linked to our website here.
Are ye able to take this all in? We sure hope so! This is certainly a time of transition on all fronts, and we want to do it right. As the song so aptly puts it, “Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine. Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine. Thy guiding radiance above us shall be a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.” (Are Ye Able)