I wish I could give you details about that, but I can’t. In working with Council, we all agreed that we wanted to follow the governor’s guidelines and do this gradually and safely. But how?
I had (one more) Zoom meeting with about 28 senior pastors of large Lutheran Churches across the country this week, asking them the same question about reopening. I guess, naively, I was hoping for some consensus on best practices. Unfortunately, I found none:
Some are opening up early June and others are waiting until 2021.
Some are doing parking lot worship with FM radio frequency while others do not have that capacity.
Some have a dynamic online worship while others are sitting in their offices with an iPhone.
Some are going to open with everything in the fall and others are going to offer worship only and do Sunday School and Small Groups online until the end of the year.
About half are doing home communion during this time and the other are practicing a “communion fast.”
Less than half are doing “live” online worship; most are taping a few days prior, and only a few are doing a splicing of live and recorded like we do.
Bottom line, we are all making this up as we go. . .but we are finding encouragement, ideas, and support from one another as we struggle through this together.
When will Christ Lutheran open up for worship? I’m meeting with physicians and leaders to figure this out. At this point, I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you a little bit about the “how.”
At South, we are not allowed into Polo Ridge Elementary School this summer so community worship, if it happens at all, might be some outdoor music/devotion.
Concord and Providence will practice the same safety precautions:
Limited number of people depending on state guidelines
Doors opened to allow for fresh air to circulate
No fellowship/coffee gathering
Singing at a minimum
Thorough cleansing before and after
There are still plenty of questions. How do we do communion? Do we pass the offering plates? What about bulletins? How will we socially space people? Can we sing?
My two-fold commitment to you is this. I will work with leadership, physicians, and council to narrow down the specific details on how to keep people as safe as possible. This will be voluntary worship with each person accepting a certain amount of risk. We will seek out best practices, get advice from our medical experts, and not overstep our state’s guidelines.
Second, we won’t be the first church in Charlotte to open or the second. We will be cautious and conservative in naming the opening date. I don’t even want to speculate at this point because the rules change constantly.
In a recent Zoom call, I polled the attendees about their comfort level on returning to worship. About half said that they would be in church on day one—with masks and caution. I get that. We were created to be in community. Worshiping together feeds our souls. And we will, one day, gather together with loud singing, firm handshakes, and warm hugs. Until then, we gather online and gradually in person, longing for that day to be reunited once again.
When? You will be the first to know!