After a delightful summer of worshipping together outdoors in the shade of our oak tree, we are forced to admit that colder weather is at hand and we will return indoors for worship.
And after careful and prayerful work, our Regathering Team and Vestry are offering new guidelines for indoor worship. These new guidelines, summarized HERE, will be effective beginning Sunday, October 16. We hope that these new guidelines – more relaxed than any we have had before – are a faithful response to this new stage of the pandemic and offer a new sense of freedom and joy.
However, you will notice that our guidelines are still stricter than many other contexts. You might wonder – why do our parish guidelines seem stricter than what we see in some other parts of life? Why do I have to wear a mask to sing at church when I don’t have to wear one to the store or to the gym? Why are things back to normal at my child’s school and not at Our Redeemer?
The short answer is that church is meant to be different – our faith in Jesus should make us different than other institutions. While much of society is ready to return to normal, there are still people who are at high risk or live in high risk households who cannot safely participate in indoor activities without taking precautions. It’s not enough for them to mask – they depend on others masking or attending to distancing or air filtration to stay safe. Said more simply, for them to have access to worship, we need to take precautions.
There will be activities at Redeemer that are mask-free, but in our worship and formation, we will prioritize greater accessibility for those who are high-risk. Our faith teaches that love is not about insisting on our freedoms – it’s about being willing not to exercise our right to do something if doing so would hurt someone else.
As the Body of Christ, we do not wish to return to normal at the expense of those among us who are still at risk; we do not want to leave anyone behind.
We yearn for the pandemic to be over, and there is every reason to be hopeful. The Regathering Committee and clergy are open to your input and will review these decisions monthly in hope that continued progress allows us to relax further. In the meantime, we celebrate these changes. And we do so with gratitude for the love and patience you show one another every day, for the way you have carried one another through this painful time.