A Strategy for Reopening St. Philip's
Friends in Christ,
About a month ago, I wrote and shared an article called, Proceeding with Compassion, in which I outlined our response to the COVID-19 crisis, introduced our response team, and set expectations regarding a timeline for reopening to in-person gatherings. This article is an update on our work, including a new target date for reopening.
As I stated in my previous article, the work of our First Impressions Team has been guided primarily by a commitment to “do no harm.” Our response has been slow and deliberate because of our commitment to this value. Our first task is to do all that we can to not endanger your health as we seek to bring the community of faith together again. That said, we humbly acknowledge that whenever we reopen, there will be an element of risk involved that lies beyond our control. With this in mind, I cannot stress enough the importance of each of you using your own best judgement in determining when it is appropriate for you to return to our campus.
Guided by these principles, our team has decided to resume in-person worship on June 21, 2020. I’d like to share a little about what that will look like, as well as the health protocols that will be in place. We will be offering two worship services that day, one early (time TBA) and one at 11:00 a.m. The early service is only for those persons who fall in the “high risk” category. Our 11:00 a.m. service is open to everyone. Both services will be similar to what you have been experiencing on-line the last several weeks. Our streaming will continue, so if you choose to stay home, you can continue to worship on-line on our YouTube channel at 11 a.m.
Worship will be held exclusively in our Family Life Center for the time being. Chairs will be set in family clusters that are spaced 6 feet apart, masks will be required, and there will be no refreshment table in the back of the room. The room will be disinfected before each worship service, and greeters will even open the door for you to ensure a “touchless” experience. A temperature check will be performed on everyone as they enter. If you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you will be asked to remain outside. To help us prepare for this important day, we will conduct a “soft opening” on June 14th with our staff and leadership in attendance. This service will also be livestreamed.
These changes will seem strange. It is my belief, though, that the Holy Spirit will be present among us, that God’s name will be glorified, and our community of faith will be strengthened. I am eagerly awaiting the day that we can worship together again, and while this will not be what we are used to, it will be a step toward the familiar. Again, I encourage each of you to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your family. As always, I am deeply humbled by the privilege of being your pastor and look forward to walking with you into the future God has for us.