We are excited about regathering in-person at Holy Trinity for worship, ministry, and fellowship in August. It has been a long 16 months and while we were never "closed", AND found new ways to worship together and fulfill our mission of Loving God, Loving Neighbors, a big part of our identity as a community in faith is gathering face to face in one another's physical presence. It's time to open our doors and welcome one another into our sacred spaces for faith formation, fellowship and worship.
I continue to gather weekly with our local neighboring clergy to get updates on the latest news about COVID and medical research. You have heard me share how enriching this has been for all of us and we will continue to keep these relationships moving forward in the days ahead. We are still all on the same page with doing outdoor worship and moving forward with limited spaced in-door worship, with the vision of opening our doors wide when the students come back to town for the start of the fall semester.
This week Dr. Wes Wallace (director of Emergency Medicine at UNC and member of University Methodist) continues to advise us to keep doing what we are doing, slowly and patiently opening our doors. He also urges us to keep in mind that there are those who are not vaccinated (including children) and to keep our eyes on the Delta variant. COVID-19 cases across the country are at an all time low but vaccinations are lagging especially in the age group of 18-39. Holy Trinity continues to be a science believing community of faith and a strong advocate for vaccinations. Those who are vaccinated seem to be safe from the Delta variant but for those who are not vaccinated the Delta variant can hit hard because it's more contagious. Dr. Wallace encourages us to remain flexible and mindful with our regathering plan but believes we are on the right path.
With Church Council voting to move into Phase 3 Aug. 1st, I wanted to share with our congregation what the HTLC staff and our online stream-team have planned for the month of August. Here is what our worship together will look like in August.
Aug 1st and 8th - Worship as we have been doing all summer... 8:30 Outdoor Worship, 10:30 Live-Stream (from now until August we will work on how to set up the chairs and get ready for in-person worship, including a wedding with in-person attendants on the afternoon of Aug. 1)
Aug 15th - We will move back to our normal schedule of 8:30 and 11:00 worship with members signing up for in-person worship at both services. These services will be simple and with limited singing... think what we are doing outdoors over the last few months except indoors. Holy Communion will be at both services and we will do it like we have been doing at 8:30 outdoor service. We are in the process of thinking through what our capacity and numbers will look like depending on how we set up the chairs. We will not do Drive-Up Communion on this day but provide communion at both services. The HTLC Staff and our new contracted Live-Stream Lead, Mike Krier, are thinking through which service will be live-streamed. But be assured, our live-streamed worship will continue for the foreseeable future. Our community of faith have been great using the Sing-Up Genius with outdoor worship and we will continue to use this tool in August in order to track our numbers. Aug 22 - same as the 15th Aug 29 - Back to normal worship with no signup but with the same set up and protocols we have been doing. We will do the full liturgy and Beth is looking into getting some extras instruments and musicians to add to the liturgy . This is also "welcome back LCM Students Sunday" and our annual LCM Student Luncheon in our reception hall.
September 12th - Rally Day! Mark your calendar for this day as this will be both our kickoff for Sunday School as well as God's Work Our Hands Sunday.
Moving forward in our worship life... * We will encourage masks for all unvaccinated and we will not provide a nursery until children under 12 can be vaccinated.
* We will set up our chairs in the worship space to be as spread out as possible so we can continue to practice social distancing.
* We will find ways to share the peace and do the pastoral greeting line in a safe way with continue social distancing.
* We encourage our members to fellowship and connect with one another outdoors as much as possible and as the weather allows. * The HTLC staff are creating a working google doc of a priority list for our "Clean up and get ready for the multitudes Team" (I know, we need a better name) to get ready for in-person gatherings in August. We have some work to do to get our buildings up to par and not looking like a time capsule from March 2020. We have had a number of people share that they would like to help, if you would like to help please contact the church office. Thanks for your support in all this. We know this is not easy but also so thankful for how our community of faith has pulled together in challenging times. We are still learning and relearning how to be the gathered church again. I am so proud of our congregation in so many ways. I know the last 16 months have been hard on so many levels so please be patient and gracious with one another keeping in mind the call of Christ to love one another as Christ has loved us. I continue to encourage our faith community to fight the temptation to hop right back into the rat race of seeing how busy we can be and to reduce our identities to our accomplishments. Continue to be mindful, to slow down, and to be attentive to the relationships God has gifted us with.
We will for sure learn, grow, evolve, and pivot along the way having faith that the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering us in the days and months ahead.
Yours in Christ,