August 13, 2021
Your church council called a special meeting on 12 August to evaluate our COVID protocols given the rise in cases and positivity rates in our county, recommendations of our bishop, and the risks to our most vulnerable members, including our children. The council agreed that we want to continue to worship in person in the sanctuary as well as online and that, starting this Sunday, we need to go back to mask wearing for everyone two years old and over. We are hopeful that we can weather this surge and return to less stringent measures.
This is painful news to bring, in so many ways. Once again, the virus is striking too close to home. We struggle with isolation, and many of us do so while carrying significant personal griefs. We struggle to negotiate our COVID differences in our own families, to say nothing of larger groups like the church. We struggle with the anxieties and obsessions that this prolonged pandemic brings. Yet, we believe this is necessary.
Personally, I want to thank you for the way you have responded during this crisis. You have shown extraordinary consideration for one another. When someone in your family has been ill, you have all stayed home just in case. When someone you love is more anxious than you, you have put on your mask. The Scriptures call us to defer to one another in love, rather than to pursue what we ourselves prefer. You have done so.
When you were in disagreement with the decision of the council – moving too quickly to lift the mask expectation or moving too quickly to reinstate it – you have still respected it. When all we could do was worship online, those of you who struggled to connect in that way still held the whole church in your prayers and in your hearts. You have loved and treasured this fellowship of faith and you have upheld me and your church leaders. Thank you.
June 17, 2021
With the Pennsylvania mask mandate ending at the end of the month, our Council is adjusting our guidelines for worship and other gatherings. Beginning Sunday 4 July:
- There will be no attendance limits in the sanctuary.
- For vaccinated persons, masks are optional. Children and other unvaccinated persons are encouraged to wear masks. We will always support persons who choose to wear a mask.
The Council recognizes that we have a wide range of concern and comfort around COVID in our congregation and is grateful for all the input received through the Return to Worship Survey and in personal conversation. We are committed to continue to hold one another in prayer as we navigate these matters and stay focused on our mission – making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
May 23, 2021
It has been a tough year for all of us. Aside from my personal griefs and my life completely changed, dealing with COVID has come with significant difficulty and trauma. Joyce Mom died from COVID. I have buried too many persons who died of COVID and still have some of those funerals ahead. I have missed hugs and touch. This has been traumatic for me and for so many of us – the lack of contact and touch, the fear of human contact, the fear that mommy and daddy could die, anxiety around blowing our nose in public. I am so grateful for those front line workers in health care and grocery stores who have borne significant personal risks. And I am grateful, personally, to be vaccinated and to see our nation and state able to relax the preventative measures.
What is next for Christ Church? As you may know, churches have been exempt from the state-wide COVID measures, so we have charted our own path based on recommendations from the bishop’s office and public health best practices. Our church council has updated and revised protocols along the way and will continue to do so. As we do so, we keep in mind public health guidelines, the COVID situation in our own community, and the differing needs of our own people. We all have a need to reclaim something normal. We have many members who are immune-compromised. We are making no distinction in worship or other aspects of our life together between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. It is our goal and hope that no one will get COVID because of what we do together.
Beginning Sunday, May 23
- We will be holding TWO in-person services, at 9:00 and 10:45, with sanitation in between. On May 23, they will both be in the sanctuary.
- We will be tweaking the 10:45 in-person service to try to replicate the interactive online environment so that it continues to be effective for our Living Room Church congregation.
- One of the things that so many people love about what we have done with Living Room Church during the pandemic is the use of multiple voices in Scripture, prayer, children’s times. We plan to continue this practice moving forward.
Adding another in-person worship service provides us new opportunities and creates some extra complications for us. The new opportunities include bringing back people who are ready to return now and reaching new people who are ready to come. The complications involve connecting just as well to those who continue to worship at home in our Living Room Church format. We recognize that there are many persons who are not ready to return. The teachers in our congregation know how difficult it is to teach in a hybrid environment, with half a class physically there and the other half present online. Please bear with us as we experiment our way forward to make this work best for all.
To move forward in this way, we are also going to need people to step up to serve as usher/greeters, part of the worship technology team, prayer leaders, and in children’s ministry. It will take us a little time to get the children’s ministry structured, but we are ready to take on some new folks in the other roles right away. With your interest, please contact JP.Bohanan@ChristontheMountainTop.org or Suzanne.Bowman@ChristontheMountainTop.org.
As to those changing COVID protocols, beginning this weekend,
- We will no longer be conducting temperature checks.
- Sanctuary capacity has been increased to 75 persons for each service.
- We will continue to wear masks at our indoor worship services.
- When we conduct outdoor worship, once persons are seated, they will be permitted to remove their masks.
- We will continue our other protocols, including registration (which makes it possible to pray for the congregation, follow up with guests, and perform contact tracing) and distanced seating. If you are not able to pre-register, you are still welcome to come.
We are still working on several important questions, including outdoor worship, and will be preparing a survey of the congregation to better understand the range of needs as we re-enter. It is important that we hear your feedback in this survey (which should come out later this week). We want everyone to be able to worship in a way that makes them comfortable, both now and in the future however our comfort levels may change.
Please continue to keep this whole process in prayer – for our council and staff, for me, for our children and youth, for our elders, and for persons in our community who need Jesus. I thank God constantly for you, for your faith and faithfulness, for your kindness and compassion, for your perseverance and patience.