Returning To In-Person Ministry



The First Church Return Task Force meets twice a week, working hard to plan and prepare for our ongoing efforts toward in-person worship. The team is carefully considering the health and well being of our people, the directives provided by the state and local authorities as well as your own level of comfort regarding larger faith-based gatherings. Below you’ll find a variety of resources and information helping us all navigate the best path forward.

A Note from Pastor Lisa

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:

  • Name how you feel. (i.e.: “I don’t like that things will be different.” “I’m mad that I will be asked to wear a mask.” “I’m sad that we won’t be singing together initially.” “I’m upset that we don’t all have the same opinions about how to face this disease.”)
  • Claim those feelings so you can explore them. Simply being aware of those feelings can help to ease the power they have over our behaviors. (i.e. “I’m mad that our practices may be different and it makes me want to stay away; but then again, I don’t want to stay away any longer.”)
  • Aim to channel those feelings into something constructive. (i.e. “I’m going to ask God for patience.” “I’m going to let God help me grow in my Christian behaviors.” “I’m going to listen for how God is calling me to be an instrument of peace and hope.”)

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!