October 18, 2020
Dear Church Family:
In the words of the scriptures, we read:
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
-Psalm 122:1, NRSV
While that verse, that psalm, speaks specifically about God’s holy temple in Jerusalem, I think the spirit of that verse speaks to what we have been feeling in this season of separation, this season of social distancing, this season of covid-tide.
As you might know, here at Wesley Church we were on course to start our reopening back in August — that is, until the governor’s executive order in mid-July limited the capacity of indoor gatherings. Because of that order, and our bishop’s recommendation not to exercise the religious exemption within that order, our Reopening Team chose to temporarily put those reopening plans on hold. We then planned to review local transmission and infection rates in the initial stages of this back-to-school season in order to make a final decision about the timeline of our reopening.
Above all, our Reopening Team’s top priority has been your safety. With that priority in mind, the team has determined the following timeline for a return to in-person worship at Wesley Church:
- On Sunday October 18, we will begin the initial Volunteer Phase of our reopening plan. At that time, our in-person congregation will consist of those individuals who volunteer to serve as ushers, greeters, temperature screeners, and sanitation volunteers, as well as their immediate family members. (If you would like to serve on one of these teams, please contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.) Those who are not part of one of these volunteer teams should plan to continue worshipping at home via Facebook Live or the church website. The Volunteer Phase will continue through Sunday October 25. During this phase, we will have one blended worship service only at 10:00 AM.
- On Sunday November 1 — All Saints Sunday — our in-person congregation will consist primarily of those families who have lost a loved one in the past year and who are seeking to honor and remember that loved one as part of our All Saints traditions. On this date, we will have one blended worship service only at 10:00 AM.
- On Sunday November 8, we intend to move into the RSVP Phase of the reopening. At this time, members of our wider Wesley congregation will be able to participate in in-person worship, but must RSVP ahead of time via online signups. (For those who do not have access to online resources, we will have an opportunity for RSVP by phone.) This will enable us to manage our attendance and ensure social distancing. Details of the RSVP process are enclosed with this letter. In this phase, we will have one blended worship service only at 10:00 AM.
- Whether in the initial Volunteer Phase or the subsequent RSVP Phase of reopening, all those who come to the church for in-person worship should plan to wear a mask (covering one’s nose and mouth) and maintain social distancing for the full duration of the service. In accordance with conference recommendations, we will not have coffee hour or child care during either of these initial phases, and we will temporarily refrain from congregational singing.
- During all phases, we will continue to offer online worship via Facebook Live and our church website.
I continue to be mindful of the fact that many of us have very different comfort levels with regards to going out in public. As you read the plan outlined above, some of you may be thinking: “It’s about time!” For others, your response may be more along the lines of: “Already? I’m not sure it’s the right time…” The decision of whether to return to in-person worship is a very personal one, and we honor your choice.
Of course, even as we speak of “reopening,” we know the church has never truly been “closed.” While our building has largely been closed, our “church” is open, as the people of Wesley Church continue to be “people blessing people.” So remember, friends:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
Rev. Candy LaBar
Lead Pastor, Wesley Church