When the quarantine for COVID-19 began, my thought was, “Well, we’ll do this for a few weeks, and then everything will go back to normal.” My thought was this would be a short pause on normal activity before business as usual resumed. Now, as our state is in a process of reopening things, I realize my thoughts were naive. I followed the governor’s plan for reopening and saw this is a complex problem, with many steps leading to an unsure future. Even as things begin to reopen, the challenges of the coronavirus are still present and will be with us for some time.

As we think about resuming worship in our building on Sunday, I realize there are many challenges to us all being back in one room. Even as the governor gave permission for churches to resume activity, it came with many precautions. He also encouraged churches to continue virtual services if possible, and he asked church leaders to do their best to keep their people safe. As I read it, the opening wasn’t a direction for all churches to immediately come back together, but a permission to gradually and safely begin a process of coming back together.

For Hazelwood, I believe the best decision is to not have Sunday morning worship in our building through the month of May. The Indiana Region of Disciples of Christ is also encouraging its churches to not hold worship in their buildings during May. I think this is the right choice for a few reasons. First, the governor’s guidelines for resuming worship said that those 65 and older, as well as those with preexisting medical conditions, should not attend worship services. This would mean we would have to tell at least half of our congregation not to attend worship. Second, the precautions we would need to observe in doing live worship (everyone wearing a mask, no communion or singing, no handing out of bulletins, sanitizer stations, rows spaced at least six feet apart, etc.) would make worshiping together challenging and also a very diminished experience. Third, I believe we are doing a good job with our online worship, and it presents a viable temporary alternative.

So, at least for the month of May, we can plan on not holding services in our church building but continuing with our online worship experience. I realize this is difficult because we miss one another, and the thought of being back together is very appealing. I’d rather us do it safely and cautiously rather than make a rushed and unsafe decision. In the meantime, we have many ways to connect, whether it’s our online experiences, phone calls, text messages, or emails. Let’s keep connecting! I’d love to hear from you, so let me know how you are doing. And when the time is right, we’ll all be back together in our building.

Grace & peace,

Jason Jones