Dear friends in Christ,
When last we wrote to you a few weeks ago we said that the council would reexamine the question of when St. Paul’s would resume in person services at our June 9th meeting. At our meeting this week the consensus of the council was that the time is not yet right to resume in person services and that we would discuss it again at our July meeting. There were a number of factors that played a part in this decision. First and foremost is a desire to keep people safe, both those that would attend an in person worship service, and those who lead and facilitate our worship services, including Pastor Lee, Cara, Dave, and Connor. While those choosing to attend a worship service can make their own decision about their willingness to accept the risks that go along with that, those who lead and facilitate the worship service do not have that same option. Secondly we have developed an effective method of providing online services, that is able to reach many of our members either through Facebook, or by telephone. As Bishop Gohl has said in many of his communications, the Church is not closed, it continues to do its work of spreading the gospel, of prayer, of caring for the sick, and many other things, even if the way we are doing those things looks different than it did three months ago.
Another concern we discussed was that returning to in person worship right now won’t feel “normal”, and that the experience people are able to have at home has a higher quality than what would be the case if we resumed in person worship. Under the current guidelines, a return to in person worship would include wearing face coverings, socially distanced seating, no singing, and other restrictions. One of our hopes is that by waiting a little longer some of these guidelines may be relaxed and we will be able to have a Sunday morning worship experience that is more like what we are all used to. A second concern is that we don’t want to resume in person worship services only to have to take a step backwards a few weeks later because of a “second wave” that results in restrictions being put back in place. By waiting a few more weeks we can see if the current trends continue in a positive direction, making us more confident that once we resume in person worship services we won’t have to stop them again. We might not be meeting in person, but the ministry of the church continues. Speaking of that, did you know that 2021 will be the 250th anniversary of our congregation in Funkstown? That’s right, our congregation traces its roots to a group that organized the first Lutheran church here in what was then Jerusalem, or Funck’s Jerusalem Town. A group is being formed to make plans to celebrate and commemorate this anniversary. If you’re interested in being a part of this group please reach out to Carol-Ann in the church office so you can be added to the list. Finally, while we have decided not to resume in person Sunday worship at this time, we have discussed the possibility of offering some other form of gathering either outdoors or in the church. Please stay tuned for information on this as plans are developed. Additionally this coming week we’ll be offering a “virtual” Vacation Bible School. No doubt, it will be a high energy experience as we present this outreach in a new and different way.