Reopening? Our answer has always been, “We never closed!” Our physical space and relation to it has changed, yes, but our work and connections have continued. In fact, our church has been thriving!
Consider our virtual gathering successes. Our congregation attendance and viewership has grown! Our weekly worship and “Message for all Ages” consistently see 400-500 in attendance from all over the world. Interactive weekly groups include something for everyone, too: Adult Connect and Care, Kids Connect, Young Adults, and Youth. The huge turnout and engagement with the 4-week study, “Finding Peace in an Anxious World” birthed the church-wide Courage and Wisdom Collaborative, an effort to build on the justice work already happening in our community and help guide future efforts with more hands and hearts involved. Remember our dedicated church members, who jumped in to offer movement and meditation classes. (Thank you Nancy, Robin, and BJ!) We even had a church-wide Happy Hour with a packed Zoom Room. We’ve learned so much about this new type of connection over these past few months that VBS will go virtual and be open to any kids in the New York Annual Conference or beyond. It has been an exciting, innovative time for us, and we want to thank all of you for being a part of it.
We still have needs in this virtual space. We must find ways to reach people who are not digitally connected. We have to continue to adapt in order to maintain connections, love radically, and pursue justice for all… at a distance. And we need to thoughtfully prepare a safe welcome back to the physical building for our church congregation and other building partners.
Friends, we are still a very long way away from returning to large format, physical worship. Several things are at play. First, our building is serving as the West Side Campaign Against Hunger’s central hub for feeding thousands of people daily. Our pews can’t hold people, because they’re currently overflowing with food and necessary supplies. Second, our sanctuary has a fair amount of scaffolding in it. As you know, the work on our roof repair continues. Foremost, we will move forward when it is safe to do so, following the science and the regulations of the New York Annual Conference and the city.
Don’t forget all of the success we’ve seen and the connections we’ve experienced these past three months, though! Church is always open, even if it will take some time until we are physically together again.
We are eager to hear from you. In the next few days, we will be distributing a feedback form where we hope you’ll share your comments, concerns, and considerations as you widen your personal circles.
Draw the circle wide,
draw it wider still.
Let this be our song:
no one stands alone!
Standing side by side,
draw the circle,
draw the circle wide.
– Gordon Light, 2008
Chair of Church Council