June 25, 2020
This past Monday our Vestry and I met together to review the results of the “Research COVID-19 Congregational Survey” we sent out to you a few weeks ago, and to discern how to move toward regathering in our worship together. Our meeting took place in the context of reflecting on Ephesians 4 (guided by Deacon Sallie), praying, and discussing the core values that shape the people of Immanuel. Let me share with you some of the insights from our review and discussion:
· We received 107 responses out of the 160 surveys we sent out – an encouragingly high response rate.
· We are a people very ready to worship together again. Each of the questions related to regathering had over 74% of respondents indicating a willingness to come together, even if it means adjusting to new times, places, and conditions.
· A significant majority of us expect the church to have precautions in place when we do regather, and a similar majority will take their own precautions.
· Although not constituting a majority, there are many of us who think few to no precautions are necessary.
· A majority of families with children are willing to come together, including participating in Sunday School classes, with precautions in place.
· A little over 80% of us are over the age of 50, reminding us that many are at higher risk with regard to COVID-19.
I am very grateful for the thoughtful, faithful discussion that emerged from these insights. It is evident that we are a people passionate about worshiping together, yet aware of the vulnerabilities within our community, and so desiring to “bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4.1-3).
Our Vestry has appointed a team of people to establish a plan for regathering, focusing on two areas: creating immediate opportunities to worship together in July and August, and developing a long range, adaptable plan for worshiping together through the fall and beyond. Please pray for this team, and know that we will regularly update you on our progress.
There was another theme that emerged during our discussion. The Lord is using this time to renew Immanuel “in the spirit of [our] minds],” calling us to walk together “with all humility and gentleness, with patience,” and “to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God” (4.23, 1-2, 24). I am confident that this is indeed a time in which we can experience (receive, enjoy, extend) God’s grace – his unmerited favor in action in our lives.
Your Pastor in Christ,