Grace and peace to the entire body of Grace!
March is here. We are deep into the season of Lent. Holy Week plans are being finalized for online worship. A Saturday drive-thru Easter egg event, with Easter breakfast kits, and a 24-hour prayer vigil, are all on the horizon. So much good! We hope you are feeling graced in this season of life together.
As we are now entering another phase of the Covid pandemic, with mass vaccinations ramping up, we wanted to provide an important update regarding our building use.
The Board of Grace, along with staff, and the Health and Safety team, are looking at the front end of July as a potential time for re-opening in-person worship. We have chosen that point in time because it seems everyone may have had the potential to receive the Covid vaccine by then. This is a very important consideration and one that we have prayed about, as it takes many levels of partnership to host an in-person worship service. We want everyone to have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. We desire the highest level of health and safety for everyone involved.
With the July date selected for building use, our usher teams, worship and music/media teams, parish nurse team, health and safety team, property teams, and staff teams will begin to make intentional preparations for being ready. Each team and area of ministry will be equipped to think through their areas of service and make a plan for how to safely execute their ministry. As the Haitian proverb says, “Many hands make the burden light,” so to we know that we are better together and with each doing what they can we will emerge with a way of being that honors and serves all safely.
Of course, we have no idea how the CDC recommendations will have changed by July, if the new variants will cause health disruptions, nor what the Washington State or Synodical recommendations will be. Those will continue to be on the leading edge of our decisions. We continue to pray and work for all that is good!
We do imagine a smaller startup within every area of ministry once the doors are open. The first month or two of worship may have a limited scope, for example, less music and no communion. We may not host gatherings before or after the service, but rather enter for worship and then exit immediately after worship to visit safely in the parking lot. Any youth and children’s offerings this summer may be done via small group gatherings. Masks and distancing will most likely still be in place throughout this year. Any public use of the building space would follow all those same protocols.
When we get to the point of in-person worship offerings, we will continue to provide the 10 am Sunday morning online worship venue. We want every person to have the opportunity to be in worship and know both in-house worship and online worship are important in loving all and serving all. We also hope to grow our community through those online connections. Please continue to share and invite others as many will come to know the community of Grace online well before they may visit the building.
We also invite you into continued steady and constant prayer over these coming months. As servant leaders begin working through all these new considerations, we will need both patience and perseverance. We will need to slowly build back up in a forever changed world. We will continue to be stretched in ways just twelve months ago no one thought possible.
We also today give every measure of thanks to God for the opportunity of vaccination. So many pouring out life and love in deeply meaningful ways. As we are now receiving word weekly of those receiving vaccinations, the smiles are a bit brighter and the joy a bit more elevated!
Peace and Hope,