Watch Pastor Andy's video on
Moving Forward Together
or read the transcript below.
At a special meeting on July 8, using the data from the June survey and recommendations from the Moving Forward Together Committee, the Board of Community Christian Church approved a three-point plan. As a result:
1. Community Christian Church will
reopen the sanctuary for in-person worship next Sunday, July 18 and continue live-streaming our worship services on Facebook Live;
practice social distancing while in the sanctuary; and
encourage in-person worshippers, especially the unvaccinated, to wear face coverings while in the sanctuary.
2. Community Christian Church will return to online-only worship if
15% of in-person worshippers from the previous Sunday report they have tested positive for Covid-19;
Dallas County raises its Covid Threat Level to orange; and/or
the CDC changes Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People or Considerations for Communities of Faith.
3. The board will create an Online Ministries Committee to invest in technological innovations that increase engagement of our online church family and leverage our online presence for growth.
We know that many in the congregation have been anxious and excited to be able to return to in-person worship here in the sanctuary. The Moving Forward Together Committee and the Board have made great efforts to ensure that our gatherings for worship will be safe for everyone who chooses to worship in-person. To that end, I want to say a little bit about what we can expect in the sanctuary starting next Sunday.
To help us prepare for the reopening of the sanctuary, we are going to ask people to let us know in advance that they plan to worship in-person. We will also ask online worshippers to register their attendance during the service itself. Advance notice of intent to worship in-person will allow us to ensure social distancing and prepare for communion, among other things. It will help the deacons with taking attendance and assist in contact tracing should anyone test positive for Covid-19. There will be an online form, not unlike the one we use for online worship. It will also include a place for people to share their announcements and their prayers of thanksgiving and intercession. So, if you plan on worshipping in-person with us in the coming weeks, please keep your eyes open for more information about this new form. It will be prominently displayed on our website and in email communications to the congregation.
When you arrive at church, you will be directed to come in through the sanctuary doors. This will help our deacons with taking attendance and the narthex will be available for visiting before and after worship. For the time being, we ask you to enter and exit through the narthex and to avoid the administrative and educational wing unless you need the restroom. Because the narthex doors will be open, social distancing and use of face coverings will not be necessary there.
Once we’re in the sanctuary we will practice social distancing. The pews will have red and green signs indicating where families and individuals can sit.
The policy of the Board of Community Christian Church is to encourage in-person worshippers, especially the unvaccinated, to wear face coverings while they are in the sanctuary. Instead of categorizing people, we are asking everyone to engage in this simple act of Christian love for the sake of those who, because of age or whatever other reason, are not yet vaccinated. As you prepare to return to in-person worship, I would like for you to think about the members of our church family who must wear face coverings for their own health. I will be wearing my face covering for them. For me, we are like a family that shaves their heads in solidarity with a loved one going through chemo. Wearing a face covering has proven to help keep us safe from an evolving virus. It will also show the most vulnerable among us that we are all in this together. We will keep each other safe and we will make sure no one feels excluded.
Starting next Sunday you will notice some changes to our worship service. As you come in through the narthex you will see a table with an offering plate sitting on it. For now, instead of passing the plates, you will have the opportunity to give your offering as you come into the sanctuary or as you leave it at the end of worship. The manner of serving communion will also change, at least for now. Instead of passing the trays, you will be invited to come forward to receive communion.
At the conclusion of the worship service, we will ask everyone to return to the narthex where the outside doors will be open and social distancing and face coverings will not be necessary. There we will have the opportunity to visit, each person deciding whether to stay inside or outside.
One of the most interesting findings from the June survey was that more than 60 percent of respondents said that they would be worshipping online only or online sometimes. So that folks that are not with us in-person have a chance to visit with us in the narthex, we will have an open Zoom meeting running for our online folks so they can join in the fellowship. I encourage you to take a moment to greet people who join us online in this way.
In this first stage of re-opening during the lingering Covid-19 pandemic, there will be some things that we do not include in our new Sunday morning routine together, including Sunday school. The Board will continue to study how best to create Community Christian Church’s “new normal,” the version 3.0 of CCC that I have been talking about. What I envision is a gradual return of our familiar activities, even if they are conducted differently.
On behalf of the Board, I want to thank you in advance for your patience as we have worked to re-open the sanctuary for worship, and for your patience as we learn how to be a church that is a hybrid in-person and online community. I believe that, despite the immediate excitement created by the first part of our plan, our future together as a congregation will have as much to do with our implementation of the third point of the plan as anything else— we must invest in our online presence and leverage it for growth.
We are forever changed, and we trust in God to guide us by the Holy Spirit as we seek to live out the mission of Jesus in the world as the body of Christ, united despite being both in-person and online. I cannot wait to see what our next adventure together with God will be. I am so grateful to be on this adventure with you!