At our November council meeting held this past Thursday, November 12, our council made the decision to allow in person worship beginning with the first Sunday in Advent (November 29).
HOWEVER, the following day, Governor Northam announced that our state has moved back into restriction of no more than 25 people indoor or outdoor for the foreseeable future.
This impacts our decision in the following ways:
1) We will honor this restriction and WILL NOT RETURN to in-person worship indoors until this restriction is lifted. While religious organizations are technically "exempt" from this restriction, honoring the restriction is both judicious in terms of being safe and an act of solidarity with those legally required to obey these restrictions, i.e. "love your neighbors as yourself."
2) In lieu of in-person gatherings for Advent, we will be offering pre-recorded worship on Sundays as we have been. Additionally, we will offer a pre-recorded Holden Evening Prayer worship each week followed by a Zoom gathering and reflection on the message of the evening.
Finally, look for information regarding our Advent Traditions plan for making Advent wreathes as we will share that information ASAP.
3) There are plans underway for a pre-recorded Christmas in a Barn (from Cloverdale Barn) that will be released on Christmas Eve at 3pm.
Unless the restrictions are lifted, we will offer a pre-recorded worship on Christmas Eve at 7PM, followed by a Zoom gathering to say Merry Christmas to each other. However, if the restrictions are lifted, we may look to offer something in person on Christmas Eve.
Friends, I am acutely aware that this is NOT ideal!
Like you, I long to be with my Bethel friends in worship and fellowship.
However, as we seek to be faithful to our responsibility to remain safe as a community of faith, we are making tough decisions that we do not want to make, but feel are necessary.
I ask for your prayers even as you should know that you remain daily in my own.
I ask you to reach out to one another so that we can continue to foster the bonds of friendship that have been such a life-giving part of our Bethel experience.
It will take ALL OF US being mindful of one another.
So, pick up a phone and call someone you know from Bethel who has been on your mind.
Text someone or send a quick email.
Let us organically support each other as the CHURCH!
I love you and miss you all so much. God's got this and in confidence I am convinced that we will all make it through this crazy and unique time TOGETHER!
Blessings and Peace,