Whenever I have a chance to talk with you, there’s a question that keeps popping up: “When are we going to have church services in our building?” Early in March our church transitioned to online worship due to the COVID-19 crisis. Since then, the question on all our minds has been, “When will we be back?” I realize you miss your church when you ask that question, and I told my family that whenever I walk through the church building I feel a little sad knowing it’s not regularly inhabited by our congregation. I know we miss seeing one another, and we miss regularly being together to worship God.

Here’s the challenging news: the answer to if we are going to be back together in our sanctuary for worship soon is, “Not yet.” Rather than lessening, the virus is strengthening and spreading across our country. Our reopening plan is built around the virus’s threat decreasing, and that’s not the scenario we are in right now. Until we can say with clarity that the threat of the virus is decreasing, we will have to use caution. And, too, I am very proud of the online worship we are able to offer, and I appreciate so much all of you who regularly tune in for it. A big thanks goes to Tony, Marianna, Lori, Sally, the Praise Band, the Elders, and others for helping make it possible. So while the answer to in-person worship is “not yet,” I can still say with confidence we are gathering in an online forum to worship and be together.

One thing we can do, though, is host small fellowship gatherings. At our most recent board meeting, one idea that emerged was hosting small fellowship gatherings. These could be done outside, if weather permits, with a limited number (approximately 12 people), with physical distancing. This may be a way for us to visit and see one another while also being responsible. This idea is still taking shape, so look for more news, soon, about these gatherings.

While the answer to when we’ll all be back together is “not yet,” I think we have lots of ways to be church. This time has taught us that the church is not the building, but it is the people who gather in faith and mission, and you’ve shown me you are still very much a church. The gifts, the participation, the prayers, and our constant faith continue, and that means our church continues. Let’s keep doing that–let’s keep being church–even as we are apart.

Grace & peace,

Jason Jones