Worship Update: Outside Octoberby Fr. Daniel+ on September 30, 2021
First, just the facts: we’re moving Sunday worship back outside for the month of October, and weather-permitting, we’ll start this Sunday. While outdoors, masks will be optional; we will sing; we will broadcast audio into car radios; and we will livestream the service. If weather is bad, we will simply be inside, masks on and without singing, like we are now. We’ll try make a call on weather on Saturdays, via text message, so folks can plan accordingly. Pack a folding chair or blanket, and we’ll have some folding chairs you can use, too.
Neither your Bishop’s Committee nor I imagine this as a permanent move; it’s a temporary one. If it goes well, as we know it can, and if weather cooperates, then we can decide to do outdoor things more often if we like. But for now, the plan is ‘Outside October’, and to return indoors in time for All Saints Sunday on November 7 and Confirmation Sunday on November 14.
Second, why this change? The most basic reason is the same as it’s been for every adjustment we’ve made during Coronatide: to meet the spiritual needs of our congregation as fully and as safely as possible. Many of us, and I am one, love being back inside our worship space. But being indoors obliges us to certain precautions. We miss singing; we miss seeing each other’s faces; and many who are vulnerable, by reason of age or ailment, still feel the need to be as sparing as possible with indoor commitments. For them, that means staying home on Sundays and watching our live stream. Hopefully, moving outside for a few weeks of fall weather (God willing!) will be revivifying.
Many of the above sentiments were voiced at the Leadership meeting we had via Zoom on September 12. Another common theme was a desire for some congregational ‘in-reach,’ which is a way of saying that there are a lot of folks we’re not seeing right now. Some folks who were attending in-person earlier in the summer, before delta spiked, are now no longer participating in worship in-person. Others have simply drifted away, or have gotten so used to watching church online that actually coming in person isn’t often considered a real possibility. My hope is that we’ll get to see those folks again.
In response to all the above, at our meeting last week your Bishop’s Committee and I decided not only to hold worship outdoors for a few weeks, but also to do an “all call” through the directory. You may remember earlier in the pandemic that we had a call team who checked in with everyone on our directory every couple weeks. Some lay volunteers are about to do something similar: they’re going to split up the directory and reach out to everyone to invite them back to in-person Sunday worship. You should expect to hear from them in the next week or so. If you don’t, either we’ve got your number wrong, or our database is out of date and we missed you somehow.
So, for October, I’ll see you on the lawn! As always, I’m happy to talk more if you have questions or concerns.