This group spent several days drafting and redrafting the document. After completion of this phase, five other district pastors and leaders reviewed the proposed best practices and added comments and edits.
On Wednesday, the document was sent to the District Leadership Team for review and action. The District Leadership Team completed the review and approval of the Best Practices document on Wednesday evening, May 27.
We send this document for your use with a mixture of humility and urgency. Humility with the realization that COVID-19 is extraordinarily complex in both its medical and economic impact. Urgency in that we have a deep and passionate desire for District congregations to be thoughtfully deliberative and use the very best practices as we consider if, when and how to open.
Congregations are approaching the opening with different timetables. For some, plans have been made and are being implemented for opening the sanctuary for worship. Other congregations are waiting until mid-June and beyond before proceeding with opening.
I have noted a common theme. All congregations, of which I am aware, are and will maintain several venues for worship. Congregations are considering opening the sanctuary on a limited basis, maintaining a significant online presence and, in some cases, maintaining parking lot services. This means some congregations will have as many as four or five options for worship. Sanctuary worship is and will be only one of several multiple choices.
In addition, there is a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship that has emerged. Some congregations are planning to hold initial services outside with best practices in place. One congregation is considering holding initial meetings in small groups in a variety of locations.
I have engaged many of you in conversation and have received a few of your plans for opening. I am impressed with the thoughtfulness with which this question is being engaged. I implore you to continue to be thoughtful, prayerful, and deliberative. In that spirit, I ask that you consider implementing the best practices submitted for your use. My prayers continue for your well-being and witness in the neighborhoods in which God has called you to serve.
As we continue to grapple with questions regarding opening of congregations, I also ask you to continue to reflect on the question contained in the last number of issues of the Daily Connection. That question is the Pentecost question, “what does this mean.” In our understandable desire to return to normal, we run the risk of short-circuiting the movement of the Spirit that may be asking us to consider other ways of being together.
I believe we are in the midst of seismic cultural and economic shifts that will significantly impact how we are the church in the future. We cannot and do not yet know the shape of things to come.
Current circumstances call us to develop a maturity and spirituality that lives with ambiguity and uncertainty. We may well serve a God that does not wish for us to return to normal. During the variety of processes and preparations, are we able to stand still and listen? And then move in whatever new and/or old ways God may direct?
District Executive Minister