Back to Church: Adjusting to a Life with COVID-19

By now, we are all aware that COVID-19 is not going to magically disappear.  We have to learn to live with it until we reach a point of “heard immunity,” most likely through the wide-spread use of a vaccine.  We have been hearing encouraging news about the development of vaccines, but even with that, there will likely be months between the approval of a vaccine, and having enough people vaccinated that the spread of the virus is slowed to a safe level.


At the same time, we’ve learned a lot about how to live with the vaccine since the outbreak began.  We’ve learned that masks are a crucial way to fight the virus.  We’ve learned about social distancing and sanitation protocols.  We’ve learned that the virus is most likely spread through the air.


Our Safety Team has been monitoring the science around COVID-19.  They continue to work with the Trustees to ensure the safety of our congregation as we learn to live with the virus. As we enter the “back to church” season, we are excited to announce:


  • We will welcome “a live studio audience” for worship beginning Sunday, September 13, at 9:30am. Safety protocols will be required, including the wearing of masks.
  • We will be incorporating more variety of musical groups into our worship.
  • Our sanctuary is open for private, individual prayer, twice a week – Tuesdays from 12:00pm to 3:00pm and Thursdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
  • Our youth are beginning to meet in-person, with social distancing and masks. See details inside this newsletter.
  • Small groups and committees can now begin meeting in the church. Space is limited, so be sure to schedule your meeting through Melinda in the church office.
  • Some groups are also able to meet outside in the Grove. Again, please schedule that with the office.


It’s important to realize that as we open up for “in-person” worship, that it will not be “back to normal.”  We are using the language of “a live studio audience” to reinforce the understanding that if you join us in-person on Sunday morning, it will not look like worship did a year ago.  It will look like what you watch at home through Facebook or Youtube.  There will be no bulletins or congregational singing.  There will be no hugs or handshakes.  There will be no lingering after the worship service.  There will be social distancing, with pews marked for where you can and cannot sit.  Masks will be required. 


In addition, we are working to bring some of our wonderful music ensembles back into worship.  The Bell Choir has already begun to rehearse.  We will also be recruiting small ensembles (duets, quartets, etc.) to provide music on a regular basis.


Another step toward figuring out how to live with COVID-19 will be in resuming in-person small groups within the church building.  I will be leading one of our fall all-church study groups in-person, at the church, on Sundays at 5pm, beginning September 13.  Again, masks will be worn and we will employ social distancing.  Sign up for this small group is required, so that we can be prepared for the number of participants.  See the details of our fall study inside this newsletter.


A small number of other groups are experimenting with returning to in-person, socially-distanced meetings at the church.  Check with your small group leader for details.


Each of us has a different level of comfort when it comes to meeting together during this pandemic.  The Safety Team is aware of both the physical and emotional threats of the pandemic.  We will continue to offer on-line worship and Zoom meetings.  Our goal is to provide opportunities to grow in Christ and to make Christ known in as many ways as possible, as safely as possible.


Jesus said, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church” (Matt 16:18), and neither will COVID-19!