from Pastor Mike in the December 2020 Messenger, shared on 11/25/2020

It is with many mixed emotions, but with clear certainty, that we have made the decision to postpone beginning in-person worship services in our church building, scheduled for this Sunday, November 29. We have been planning and in conversation for several months (staff, COVID-19 task force, Worship & Music Committee, Congregation Council) to re-enter the church building on this First Sunday of Advent.

A number of reasons bring us to this decision:

  • We have a different landscape today than when we began planning for this re-opening. The dynamics of the virus have/continue to change.
  • Recent letter from our Synod bishop, strongly recommending greater prudence, cutting back to no more than 10% of the worship space capacity.
  • Synod office will be closing down for at least two weeks because of similar concerns.
  • At least 2 local hospitals are at peak capacity; it seems irresponsible to create a potential situation where we add to this already excessive burden.
  • Several surrounding school districts have gone totally virtual, other districts have elected to hold post-Thanksgiving pre-empted quarantine protocols.
  • Several of our organists (because of at-risk concerns) are not able to be part of the worship leadership; as well as many others who serve in worship leadership.
  • Several persons, who had previously signed up for worship, have now pulled out.
  • Wednesday, Adams County closed its District Court.
  • The total spike in confirmed cases locally continue to rise.

Our concerns
Protecting volunteers who have agreed to be greeters, organists, singers, pastors.

Protecting our staff here in the church office. We absolutely believe our recorded services are vitally important in reaching greater numbers of people at this time; we need our staff to be healthy. We need to
preserve our ability to continue recorded services and keeping our staff healthy.

We (Pastor Andrew and I) know that this brings great disappointment to many of you, because to be together in worship is one very important way we are connected as a congregation. We have been warned that this will be a difficult winter season. We recognize this. We do not want to add to this difficulty by creating an opportunity for greater sickness or even dying. We will continue to do all we can to stay connected with you, but we do not wish to add to an already difficult situation. Thank you! Let us worship!

~pastor mike