J U L Y 2 2 , 2 0 2 0
Dear church,

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which Christ looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which Christ blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
— St. Teresa of Ávila

As you well know, we continue to live through a time of tremendous change and uncertainty. The last few months have been filled with disappointment, anxiety, and societal unrest, as they’ve also been filled with opportunity and innovation. We’ve had to let go of so much of what we know and value as individuals and as a faith community, as we’ve also been inspired to try new ways of living out the values that have always guided our life together. Besides our brief recording sessions every week, our worship spaces have sat empty since March 8, but that is in no way an indicator of our church’s continued vitality and mission in the world. This time has freed us to channel our energy and creativity into our work and callings out in the world, and, while I grieve what we do not currently have, I’m also energized by what we’re learning and discovering. I keep returning to Teresa of Avila’s poignant words, written more than 400 years ago – Christ has no body on earth but ours.

As we continue to move forward, I wanted to send you an important update - to let you know that the Congregation Council adopted the recommendation of the Worship Resiliency Team, which is to continue worshipping online through the end of October, at which point we will again re-evaluate. This means we will not resume in-person, indoor worship gatherings this fall. As described in greater detail below, we will hold smaller outdoor worship services in August, and a larger outdoor worship service on Sept. 13.

Here’s what informed this decision:

  • Our chief value as a community is to love God by loving the most vulnerable. In the midst of a global pandemic, all of us are vulnerable. We do not think it’s responsible to open up a space that would increase the potential for serious harm. Even if we follow all the protocols, there remains a level of risk of virus spread.

  • We are deeply grateful for the current, high-quality on-line worship that has brought us together over the last three months, and we do not believe that the in-person service under Phase 4 guidelines would match it in quality, meaning, or connectivity. We want to continue to offer worship that is meaningful and hope-filled as we continue to live through this difficult time. Our deepest thanks to BLC disciple, Chris Johnson, who is the mastermind behind the video editing every weekend! We couldn’t do it without him.

  • The congregational survey that we completed in July largely indicates that BLC members are not comfortable yet with in-person worship options under Phase 4 guidelines. Of the 240 responses we received, only 17% said they would come to in-person worship; 66% said no, and the other 17% were undecided.

  • In-person worship would put our staff and leaders at greater risk, especially if there are multiple services per weekend.

  • The investment in PPE, training, and time to execute 50-person gatherings would be significant.

So, what does this mean for us?

First, we will continue to do our very best to create virtual worship experiences that connect you to the sacraments, the words of Scripture, and the faces of your siblings in Christ to whom you continue to be connected, even when we are apart.

Second, we recognize that there are some good and safe options for gathering while the weather is still nice, and we invite you to come and be a part of these as you feel comfortable.

  • We will be offering brief services of prayer and communion on the church’s front lawn during the month of August. Each service will be limited to 10 people, and will last 20-30 minutes, with time for fellowship afterwards. Communion will be served in individual packages. Please sign up in advance either through this link or by calling the church office and leaving a message for Allie.

  • Mark your calendars for outdoor worship services on Sunday, September 13! This would typically be our “Kickoff Sunday,” and it feels only right to find a way to reunite, pray, and worship as we embark on a school and program year that will be unlike any other year. We plan to offer multiple services on this Sunday morning. Pre-registration will be required. Stay tuned for details!

Third, we encourage you to be intentional about connecting with other disciples during this time. Whether that comes in the form of phone calls or snail mail, gatherings on decks or in driveways, please explore ways to connect with each other! We will also continue to experiment with new ways to bring our congregation together for fellowship and learning this fall, and we hope that many of you will join us for our first virtual coffee hour via zoom this Sunday at 10:30am. We look forward to seeing your faces!

It truly takes a village! Thanks to all who responded to the survey – your responses and comments were incredibly helpful to us in our discernment. We are so grateful to those who served on the Worship Resiliency Team and poured over the most recent information available to us from synod guidelines and public health experts. And many thanks to the Church Council and Church Staff for their diligent and visionary work through this unprecedented time.

We know we don’t get to greet you after worship or bump into you in the hallway the way that we used to, but please know, church, that we are available to listen, reflect, and pray with you. If you have any questions, or if you simply need a listening ear, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of your rostered leaders – Pastor Sarah, Pastor Jean, or Deacon Heather. We would love to hear from you!

Take good care, church. And blessings as you continue to be Christ’s hands, feet, and eyes in the world.

Pastor Sarah, along with Pastor Jean, Deacon Heather, and the BLC Church Council

Below are responses to the FAQs we anticipate you may have at this point:

How will funerals be done this fall?
Our continued recommendation is to honor the life of someone who has died through a graveside service outdoors. This is the safest option. We are also willing to offer an indoor funeral service in our sanctuary, which would be limited to 50 people or less, and would require pre-registration, physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and a simplified liturgy.

How will baptisms be done this fall?
Our continued recommendation is to celebrate baptisms outdoors, for as long as is possible. We will allow up to 25 people to be present. As the weather changes, we are also willing to offer an indoor baptism service in our sanctuary, which would also be limited to 25 people or less, and would require pre-registration, physical distancing, the wearing of masks, and a simplified liturgy.

How will weddings be done this fall?
Pastor Sarah is working closely with couples planning to be married at BLC this fall. If couples want to move forward with their planned date, we recommend an outdoor venue, but we will also allow wedding ceremonies in our sanctuary with 50 people or less. The same protocols for funerals and baptisms would apply to weddings as well (masks, physical distancing, simplified liturgy, etc.).

Will small groups be allowed to meet in the church building this fall?
We are in the process of figuring out how we might be able to allow small groups to gather inside the building this fall. Any gathering of people adds considerable managerial and custodial responsibilities, so we want to make sure we have a plan that is safe and sustainable. We will keep you informed. 

What’s the plan for fall programming – Sunday School, Confirmation, Youth Group, etc.?
Now that we have made a decision regarding our communal worship, we can begin to think about fall programming. Like everything else during this time, we anticipate the fall will look quite different than what we have typically done in the past. We both grieve that, and look forward to what we are able to try and to learn during this time. Pastor Sarah will be meeting with leaders of programs during the month of August, and we will send communication out as soon as we are clear about next steps.

When can we anticipate a decision being made regarding in-person gatherings in November and December?
BLC Council and rostered leadership plan to make a decision by early October.

Are staff continuing to work from home?
Yes, staff will largely work from home this fall. All church staff are reachable via phone (please leave a message in the staff person’s voicemail – 630.584.2199) or email (all are listed on the church website).