My beloved Mt. Tam Church,
Does life before the pandemic and shelter in place seem like a long ago memory? This week, as Governor Newsom unveiled the plan for churches to return to in-person worship, I had to think long and hard about what it was like to be together in worship in the sanctuary! In fact, we have been away from our sanctuary only since March 22—that’s how quickly we pivoted (love that word!) and moved to online worship. Now, we are pivoting again as we are given the green light to begin plans for moving back. Today’s letter serves as an update.
There are two sources of authority that will guide our return to in-person worship, meetings, events, and rentals. The first is Marin County, for the Governor, has given each county the authority to specialize its own plan for the best practices locally. The second is the Annual Conference, through the office of the Bishop, as she guides our churches with safety and health in mind. With those two sources as our primary guides and using other informational resources, we are beginning to craft plans for our return. First and foremost, we will not return to in-person worship until we know we are ready and safe to do so—and even after our return, the services will continue to be available online.
This is a kind of “hybrid” programming, of in-person and online that will continue for the time being. We are preparing the physical spaces by determining best products and practices for cleaning, disinfecting, and training for the custodians, as well as ourselves. Touchless hand sanitizing stations, masks, and instant-read thermometers will be arriving soon. We have assessed each room in the church, as well as the large outdoor space between Fellowship Hall and the sanctuary, for social distancing capacity. We will begin the staff trainings required by the County in the next two weeks. We are also developing guidelines for renters, with the church being indoors, including requiring the wearing of masks, social distancing, and other safety precautions. There are many checkmarks and forms that we must hurdle before we can return to our buildings. As we move forward, you will be kept informed about actions taken and next steps.
I hope to have a congregational conversation “town hall” via Zoom in about 3 weeks so we can all share how we are doing and how we will come back together. More information on that gathering will follow. In the meantime, we will continue to worship online—this week is Pentecost! So get out some red—a cloth for your table or a red shirt—and plan on welcoming the Holy Spirit into your home worship this week!
For the summer, our worship theme will be based on The Book of Joy (you may remember we did this as a summer project in 2017), based on the book of the title with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Because we can all use more joy, JUMP FOR JOY will be an 8-10 part series in worship, with a home devotional. I believe it is a timely topic and it will strengthen our spirits and faith in these times.
If you have any questions as we move forward, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also if you have any expertise and/or are interested in helping with the large project of getting ready to return, please let me know. We need all the help we can get! With gratitude to God for all good gifts, including you.