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*This is for any unaffiliated group wishing to use First Church as a meeting place.
Beloved First Church Family –
No doubt, this worldwide pandemic has been a new experience for us all; a challenge in many ways. In a few short months, so much has come into daily practice that we have not had to think about before. New words and practices have become a way of life: “shelter-in-place”, “social distancing”, and the wearing of face masks. This collective experience has taken an emotional toll on us, and the place where we most want to address this, the church, is one of the places that is most affected. This is because “The more TIME you spend and the closer in SPACE you are to any infected people the higher your risk. Interacting with more PEOPLE raises your risk, and the indoor PLACES are riskier than outdoors.” – Dr. William Miller, epidemiologist at Ohio State University. So much of this quote addresses the way we gather as well as our common practices together.
We have journeyed as a faith community through these last several months and as we take steps toward returning to in-person ministries, it will be important for us all to be aware that we cannot begin our in-person ministries exactly the way we left off. There will be some differences in how we gather and those differences may have an emotional impact on us.
As we think about returning to corporate worship and in-person church ministries, new practices in church such as hygiene precautions and physical distancing can potentially change the feel of “going to church”. It will be important for each one of us to think about these things before we return to a church gather, to prepare ourselves for how it may feel different so that we don’t get so caught up in our feelings, that we potentially lose sight of why we are gathered: to praise the Lord. However, if we talk about/acknowledge these potential stressors ahead of time and prepare ourselves, we can face our emotions in a healthy way. So a few suggestions:
Friends, let us continue journeying together, not giving up hope, and giving God the glory for helping us to move through to a new day. God is with us! Together we are First Church: Devoted to Christ – Connected to Others – and Sent to Serve….even in a pandemic!