This is a time of hope and looking forward. Our team's "reopening" label isn't quite the right word. We as a community are more like turning a corner, embracing the challenges of a new future for First Church.
First, we recognize new concerns about Covid variants being more powerful and easier to pass on, about vaccines being our great savior but not quite 100% effective. With an eye on science and faith in human resilience we're willing right now to say OK to certain future plans, knowing anything and everything can change. If so, we'll just have to deal with it.
"Soft reopening" is a phrase being used for where to start. It means in-person worship service, but not Religious Education, youth group, or social hour just yet. Our beloved Rev. Kathleen's final service will be on August 22. We've okayed the worship planning people to prepare for in-person worship on that day, in the Meeting House, with all of us wearing masks. (Services are open to the public and we can't assure everyone will be vaccinated.) On August 29 we've okayed a similar plan for in-person worship but no other "normal" aspects of gathering together. Rev. Arvid Straube has graciously agreed to lead this service. Masking will be required for everyone.
We do encourage families to come, we'll have some activities available for youngsters who want to play while the adults worship. (Or the other way around!) Families, please come.
We'll have more to say about any additional protocols. For now, consider the dates, and consider whether you might want to come: a survey will be forthcoming later this week.
On September 5 we've given the green light to a "grand" reopening service, led by our Social Justice Ministry Team. This will include an in-person meet-and-greet with our transitional minister, Rev. Michael Brown. This will be a coffee and socializing Sunday, pretty much the whole deal (with some protocols).
While we'd love to give the go-ahead to South Bay for a similar start-up, this can't happen until October when the Food Pantry is relocated and space is freed up for services. In September, the plan is to meet for services at a park in South Bay; details will be announced in August.
A survey about interest in attending in-person services will be reaching you. More details about times, on-line alternatives, how we'll continue to stay safe, plans for Rev. Kathleen's going-away, all of that will be coming. For now, please enjoy the moment, and enjoy the steps forward we'll all be taking.
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