Returning to worship in the sanctuary

Friends in Christ,

As was communicated a few weeks ago, Living Christ will begin offering Sunday morning worship in the sanctuary beginning October 11th. Since that announcement, more detailed guidelines have been created to inform our processes for worship and to set shared expectations. Those can be found on the front page of the website. I invite you to read them through in full. 

These guidelines were developed based on recommendations from the CDC, St Louis County Department of Public Health, the ELCA, and the Central States Synod. Though worship may be experienced in the sanctuary, this is not a return to “normal.”  

Please note that everyone must complete a waiver before attending any in person gathering. This only needs to be done once. A link is included in the guidelines, but can also be found on the front page of our website. To attend worship in person, you must also reserve your spot each week, as attendance will be limited to 25 people. This link can also be found on the website and will be emailed out each week with prayer requests and announcements. 

In the days and months ahead, we will continue to see a variety of needs and conflicting values regarding what it means to be a gathered community. As human beings, we have a deep need for socialization and physical touch. At the same time, amid a global pandemic we have heightened needs for health and safety precautions. Our gatherings will attempt to reckon with these realities while looking for the ways in which the Spirit still makes us one body. 

Managing our shared risk is both our most important task and challenge. At this time, we cannot ensure safety, but we can do things to minimize and limit communal risk. In the guidelines, you will see many things that limit and mitigate risk: wearing masks, keeping at least six feet of distance, avoiding time spent in large groups, adjusted communion practices, etc. 

As we go, we will continue to evaluate this plan, based on new scientific evidence and recommendations from the authorities listed above. Adjustments may be made as we respond to county protocols and the needs of the congregation. 

As I write this, I recognize the challenge and the loss wrapped up in our shared experience these last months. Like many of you, I am weary of constant Zoom communication. I miss being able to see your faces. I miss our times of fellowship. These days have been hard and exhausting. 

Yet even in these challenges and the ones to come, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is still at work among us, helping us to grow in faith and to reimagine our relationships with one another and the world. In these days, I cling to Paul’s teachings in the close of Galatians: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ…so let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.” (6:2, 9-10).

May the love of Jesus continue to guide us as we are freed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If you have any questions or would like to talk further about any of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Peace,

Pastor Melissa

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