We know that many of you have already heard plans and news about how churches might begin to gather in person again. We do not say “reopen” because we have never been closed or stopped being church. It is only our physical gathering that has been on hold.
Please know that we are committed to following the science and data to ensure the safest environment for all.?We are also committed to doing all we can to protect those in our community who are most at risk with this virus, and to maintain access to our gatherings to all, even those who cannot be physically present.
With that in mind, it does appear that we will not be able to gather as a large community (for things such as worship and most fellowship activities) for quite some time.
Since this time of physical distancing?began, we have seen that we are a highly resilient, resourceful and creative congregation,?serving an infinitely creative God who is just as determined to reach us as we are to reach out to God and one another. We? will ?find our way together.?Many of the creative ways in which we are learning to Be Church for one another will continue into our time of regathering.?We are trying?new things every day, and many of our new ways of connecting are helping us grow stronger through the struggle.
We know you are wondering about the many annual special events we hold each year. We will find a way to adapt every event we can. So?far?that’s been retreats, meetings, presentations, dinners, worship, small groups, Lamb Day (on Facebook this Saturday!), Bible Study… we’ve yet to be completely stumped. We are working to re-imagine Superfluity, to see how that event could be possible in new and creative ways. And while it has become clear that it will not be possible to safely hold our All Church-Family Camp at Seabeck, we will have a “Seabeck Week” of activities, fellowship and education.
We know that it’s not the same, and, we guarantee?that celebrations will be had, support and care will be given, the joyful work of worship and justice will continue.
We have absolute faith that these restrictions will not remain in place for ever… but they may be with us long enough that it will feel like forever.
From what we are hearing, one of the great griefs for which we must prepare ourselves is the impossibility of safely singing as a choir or congregation; and the continuing impossibility of safely sharing physical space in any of the ways to which we are accustomed. There are still far too many unknowns and not enough data to suggest what practices will truly mitigate the serious health risks to our congregation and the larger community. There are a lot of ideas, and we are considering them all, and will work with Council and all Ministries to continually assess what we can do safely and what we can do to keep those who need to use our building as safe as we can.
While our building has not been in full use throughout this time, several vital programs such as Teen Feed, the Child Learning and Care Center, and University District Youth Center?have kept the building in continuous use and our custodians have been hard at work helping us hold this space of hospitality for our most vulnerable neighbors. To keep our building open for these programs and for the safety of our custodians, we must limit all other access to the building. If you have keys or a key card, please contact Kyna Shilling, Director of Finance and Operations, before using it to enter the building for any reason as the protocols for maintaining our space are under constant review.
Please reach out to any of us if you have questions, thoughts, or needs in this time. Our contact information is listed below. We have also listed some of the sources we are consulting in our re-gathering decisions.
Thank you for all the ways you have continued to step into our Gospel work in this time. May we all continue to listen to God’s call in this time.
“Returning to Church” from The Wisconsin Council of Churches
CDC Guidelines for Community Organizations
Current information for Washington State
National Recommendations for Choirs and Community Singing
National Association of Teachers of Singing webinar
PNC-UCC Notes from our Conference Minister
COVID-19 response resources from the UCC Pacific Northwest Conference