So here's the update that you all have been waiting for.
It's been a crazy couple of months since we have been out of church and definitely a learning curve for most if not all of us. Working remotely, figuring out online school, online church, and caring for our people has been a challenge for sure.
All things being equal, it has had it's silver linings as well. Faith communities have been searching for a way to make an impact on their people throughout the week and not just an hour on Sunday. Due to these circumstances and the slowing down of life we have been able to do just that. Would I much rather gather with our confirmation class and play a good round of dodge ball? Sure! Absolutely, in a heartbeat! But just as much, I've enjoyed each time I have connected with our students, both young and old, through youth group, kids time and our weekly Bible study. We have made it possible to make church more a part of our everyday life than ever before and I attribute that to the possibility of bringing church to the people. Just as Jesus met people where they are.
So we press on.... despite the announcement from the Governor this week on allowing worship at a 50% capacity, we are simply not ready and prepared for that at Calvary. The vast majority of our congregation fall within the vulnerable population of elderly and immune compromised. We are also responsible for collecting data from each and every visitor for contact tracing, as well and planning logistics like personal protective equipment. We have formed a task force of individuals with varying different backgrounds in the medical field, hospitality, and business to begin this preparation.
NEXT STEPS FOR WORSHIP
That being said, we plan on continuing online worship on Sundays and encouraging house churches as people feel comfortable and restrictions are lifted. My recommendation is to being with extended family. Plan a brunch and watch church together. We want to be especially diligent to invite those who may not have been connecting with the online services (although that number is very few as I am understanding from our Phone Tree.)
CREED WORKSHEETS AND ASSIGNMENTS
I have met with most of the Confirmation class via Zoom and worked through all that they need to prepare over the next few weeks. Everyone seems to be at differing places in their Creed which is fine! I understand with the closure of schools and church life became somewhat unpredictable and we all found ourselves just figuring things out as we went. Therefore each student has been encouraged to revisit the Creed Blog and specifically the worksheets...
Week 1 - What I believe about God. Week 2 - What I believe about Jesus Week 3 - What I believe about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity Week 4 - What I believe about the Church and the Communion of Saints Week 5 - What I believe about the forgiveness of sins Week 6 - What I believe about resurrection and life everlasting
... to complete their work and begin to compile their notes into their own personal Creed. This is simply going through each worksheet and summarizing an "I believe" statement for each topic.
ex. "I believe God is faithful, forgiving, accepting and loving. I believe God cannot be limited by race, gender, age, or being, but rather is that which remains a mystery and bigger than the box we have created." ~Pastor Beth....
Don't plagiarize, but you get my point. :)
This should be a fairly easy task IF the worksheets and notes are done. You all have talked about it, I have preached about it, all of the sermons on these topics are on the Pastor's Blog if you need to revisit anything. Also, it should not be a long assignment, preferably a one pager. (I have to read them all. :))
Once complete and typed up students should email me and their sponsor a copy of their creed.
From that Creed each student has been asked to highlight ONE statement that is a completely a deal breaker for them. The one statement that hits home for them in their faith. As I explained to them they will not have to share their personal creed for the whole church, it's personal, but I will compile a statement from each of their creeds to present a "Class Creed" during our confirmation service.
I have scheduled two meetings for the Confirmation Students only. One this coming Monday and one the first Monday in June. I already sent an invite to the meeting, it's important that they make these two last meetings to prepare for their Confirmation. PLEASE let me know if you cannot as I will reschedule for the entire class. Sponsors and Parents need not attend these meetings. Please use the church Google Calendar to access the links to the Zoom meetings.
Each student will be receiving a package from me. Don't do anything until we meet Monday. I will answer questions and give instructions then. Please plan on sending back all supplies so we can use them next time. Sponsors and Parents, the packet with instructions can be found here if you want to see what they are working with. Feel free to talk about the symbols and meanings as the student begins to choose what they want on their stole. However, it is the students responsibility to complete these last few assignments.
In each of their interviews I have gone over the questions and expectations of confirmation and membership within the church. When we meet on Monday, June 1 the entire class will be answering the covenant questions together via Zoom, this meeting will be recorded for later use in the Confirmation Service.
Next we will schedule each student an individual time to meet with me at the church. Those in attendance will be immediate household families, and their sponsor (if the sponsor is comfortable with this.) We will also be masked and to the best of our ability social distancing. If anyone in your family is unwell in the days leading up to our scheduled time please let me know so we can figure out alternative plans.
These meetings can happen at your family and sponsors convenience anytime between June 2 and June 6. Please just schedule a time with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
These confirmation services will all be individually filmed and compiled for the online service on June 14th. I will discuss dress code with the students in our Zoom meeting but Moms, Dads, it's dressy. I am fairly informal most of the times but for this it's a special occasion. Gentlemen, shirt and tie ladies knee (or longer) length dress, skirt or dress pants.
JUNE 14TH SERVICE
As mentioned with all the preparation that goes into this service it will only make sense all things considered to plan on this being an online service. One that you will want to celebrate. Families are asked to invite the family over for brunch, share in the service together and celebrate your confirmand.
It is definitely an occasion for cake!
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE FLEXIBLE
Keeping all things in mind my hope is that we see a continued plateau of Covid-19 cases in our area. If that is the case over these next two weeks we will begin to reevaluate gathering in person at the church. Until then we will proceed with caution and care for all of our members.
If we need to reevaluate to take into consideration an increase in cases and further Stay At Home orders I will make that call as well with the guidance of our Re-Entry Task Force.
As always, PLEASE let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you all! And "see you" on Sunday!