Scott's Weekly Greeting ...
People are getting antsy. With states loosening restrictions on physical distancing and moving forward in their stages toward re-opening, people are beginning to inquire about worship. In the last couple of days, I have been asked several times, "When is the church going to open?"
Good question. We have begun to lose our focus upon the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus. As we experience a little more freedom we feel more empowered. Thankfully, the infection rate in Maine has not spiked dramatically, but the threat is still very real. Even as we have realized success through our physical distancing guidelines in this state, other states have infection rates that are climbing exponentially.
At this time, we have to practice something with which we often struggle ... patience. I know that we have tried to be patient for the last ten weeks, but we have to keep it up. The more patient we are the sooner we will be able to gather together once more.
I want to let you know that I have a virtual meeting with the Board of Deacons every Friday morning. At our weekly check-ins, we discuss the pastoral needs of the church family, and we evaluate where we are with respect to the COVID-19 crisis. We have been unanimous in our belief that slower is safer. What is more, if we were to begin gathering for worship at this time, the services would not be anything like worship services that we have enjoyed:
- limited number of congregants (less than fifty as of now)
- enter the building using a specified door, safely distanced from one another
- wearing masks or other face coverings
- take temperature on the way in
- sign in so that we have a record of who attended in case we need to do contact tracing if someone in attendance tests positive for COVID-19
- physical distancing in the sanctuary sitting at least six feet apart
- Physical distancing is difficult, if not impossible, in Sunday school and the nursery
- no passing of common object (collection plates, communion trays)
- no singing of hymns
- no choir
- no unison prayers
- no hand-shaking or hugging
- exit the sanctuary row by row
- no fellowship hour
- exit the building by the specified exit door
- deep cleaning and sanitizing after the service
I do not know about you, but to me that does not sound like a worship service that I would enjoy. Yes, it would be nice to see one another, but at what risk. Even employing physical distancing the chance of infection increases the longer that we are together in the sanctuary.
I miss all of you. I cannot wait until we are able to gather together for worship, Sunday school, and fellowship. As of now, the Board of Deacons and I do not see us gathering for worship any time before September at the earliest. In the meantime, please continue checking in on one another ... make phone calls, walk by and wave ... whatever you can do to remain connected. We will continue our live-streamed worship services. If infection rates remain low, we can look at planning some small get-togethers so that we can see each other face to face ... from a safe distance! We will keep you posted.
When I was a youth, I sang a song about a foolish man that built his house upon the sand and a wise one that built his house upon the rock. This Sunday, message, "The Wise One," will be based upon Matthew 7:21-29. Our worship service will also include more beautiful music offered by Jacqui, Sarah and our choirs.
Following the service (11:30 AM - 12:30 PM) we will gather on the front lawn of the church to stand in support and solidarity with people of color. If you would like to join us, please wear masks and practice safe distancing.
May God bless you all,
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072