God Reminded Me
I stood for a long time in our sanctuary yesterday morning. From just in front of the altar, I looked out at a still sanctuary. I miss the smiling faces, the warm hugs, and the laughter we share together. When I stood up there for the first time about a year ago, I had no clue we’d have to endure such a long physical separation. Standing in the quiet, holy space, feelings of sadness, frustration, and loss filled my soul.
Our hope was to aim to start services in the first week of August, but things in Texas are worse than they’ve ever been regarding COVID-19 and starting would simply be unsafe at this time.
Focusing on dates seems to leave us disappointed again and again. I know I’m not the only one who is frustrated every time we move our start date back. Therefore, as we move forward, we will start focusing on certain numbers related to COVID-19 to help us determine when we will physically gather. The numbers, rather than dates (which seem arbitrary), truly determine when we can meet.
Instead of selecting a future date, we will wait for a decrease in COVID-19 related deaths, hospitalizations, and test positivity rates for one month in Denton and Dallas County before we consider meeting in person again. Health professionals continually point to these three critical numbers. Once we see a two-week decline, the COVID-19 Task Force can reconvene to ensure our returning procedures match the recommendations of the CDC and local government. We will continually look for the latest health guidelines from the city, state, and national governments to help us determine what is best for our congregation and community.
The following websites will be helpful for us:
Denton County will be more important to watch, but as we sit on the border of Dallas and Denton counties and many of our members live and work in Dallas County, we need to watch both.
The two-week decline in numbers will be our signal to start preparing to open. If we see numbers rise again, we’ll pause our reopening procedures. If rates continue to decrease during weeks three and four, we’ll ensure we have everything ready to reopen and we’ll implement the plans we’ve worked on together.
I recognize that we are all ready to meet and that the above plan initially feels less hopeful than extending our start date a couple more weeks. However, I think this is the safest course of action for our church and will hopefully allow us to all be on the same page regarding opening. Please also know that during this time, we are trying to explore the best ways to help people connect with God, each other, and our community. This plan allows us to refocus our energy on digital and serving opportunities rather than being let down by expectations that things will start getting back to normal in a couple weeks.
As I stood in the sanctuary yesterday remembering who sat where, God brought some more memories to my mind. As faces popped up in my memory, God reminded me who was serving at Christian Community Action. God reminded me of the Stephen Ministers and Congregational Care Team. God reminded me of the children, youth, and adult small groups that are still meeting. God reminded me that the church is alive and well and that at some point, we will gather again, but until that point, our mission is still the same and there is important work to do.
Next month, we plan to have at least two virtual, churchwide gatherings. The first will be a Love Feast on the morning of August 2. This is similar to communion. The second will be a Back to School Blessing on August 16. More details will follow, but I hope you’ll plan to join us for those and I pray that you’ll stay connected to God, to each other, and to our community during this time.