Grace and peace to all of you in these strange times of COVID!
If you are like me, one of the many frustrations of this pandemic is the difficulty of making reliable plans. It feels like the sand is constantly shifting beneath our feet, even as we search for some firm footing here and there.
In that regard, I know that many of you are wanting to know what our plans are for resuming in-person worship and gathering at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church. For months now, the session of the church, in reliance on our very capable and faithful COVID Task Force, has been watching numbers, following developments, and responding to specific requests throughout the crisis. We are all grateful for the Task Force’s diligent work and good counsel, which has kept us healthy and secure as a church community.
While the safety of our friends, family, and neighbors has been our greatest concern, I am happy to report that a number of in-person opportunities have been recommended to our session, which will consider these options at our next stated meeting on September 22nd:
- To begin an outdoor worship service at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. This abbreviated service, which will be led from the Fellowship Hall porch, would commence on the second Sunday after the MUSC's COVID-19 Epidemiological Intelligence project shows all indices being green or yellow (see https://web.musc.edu/coronavirus-updates/epidemiology-project for more information).
- To schedule a special “Blessing of the Animals” service once the outdoor worship service begins. Those who attended Lib’s service last fall will remember how special this event was to our pet-owners. Once the way is clear, a date and time (most likely on a Sunday afternoon) will be announced.
- To resume baptisms during the live-streamed sanctuary service. Restrictions on numbers and heightened protocols would be required, but this would allow those families who have been patiently waiting for the sacrament of baptism to make plans to observe this important Christian rite.
I am excited about all of these possibilities, each of which would offer much-needed opportunities for personal interaction while still maintaining a healthy respect for the dangers of COVID and our obligations to one another.
As for a time when in-person worship might resume in the sanctuary and the Net, neither the COVID task force nor the session have a particular date in mind. Of the large churches in our presbytery, only one has opened their sanctuary for worship at this time. The others are choosing to wait a bit longer to see how the resumption of school may affect the rate of infection. Some large churches have already made the decision to wait until January 2021 to resume in-person worship in order to provide some stability for making plans for Advent and Christmas. In the meantime, please know that the session will continue to monitor this situation closely, and that all of us – pastors, staff, and lay leaders alike – are looking forward to the time when we might all be physically together in worship again.
Also, if any of you want to have a one-on-one meeting with a pastor, we are just a phone call away. You may have heard that we are maintaining regular “porch hours,” but all of us are available for meetings at other times. Just give us a call and we will work something out.
I continue to be awed at the restraint and patience that many of you are maintaining in the face of so much uncertainty. People in our society are especially anxious right now for a variety of reasons, and one way we can show our faith and bear witness to our God is to do as God bids us to do: “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). My prayers are with you and your families as we move forward in faith together.