A Note from the Rector, July 2020
A Note from the Rector July 2020
My thanks to all of you who participated in our recent survey considering options about possible reopening of Holy Spirit buildings. (I say the buildings because all of us, wherever we may be, are the church open and alive in the world - virtually or otherwise.) We had 127 responses and the survey gave Gretchen, Dorcie, and me a sense of what to consider alongside what we know from the diocese and our local health situation.
Very briefly, we learned that 70% of responders either consider themselves in the vulnerable category regarding Covid 19 or live with someone who is. This is significant. No surprise that most all responders have access to our online worship (98%) and can use Zoom software to participate in virtual Coffee Hour, meetings, social grouping online (82%). Roughly 75% would be unlikely, very unlikely, or don’t plan to attend any onsite worship or activity at all. Of those who might come, an outdoor service or activity would be preferred.
The three of us prayerfully considered all of this and our context: needs, concerns, volunteer support, health concerns and restrictions, and what we’ve been hearing from many of you day to day. You tell us our virtual Sunday worship is being well received by all who can access it, particularly because it can involve a variety of us from wherever we are. An outdoor worship service might be well received but we know our courtyard area is a difficult area for sound with adjacent road noise making it difficult to hear. As we talked, what really came to the forefront was the need for some socially well-spaced gathering to share some prayer, see someone’s eyes, and just be together even if spaced apart.
With increasing cases of Covid19 in both Missoula and Montana overall, and local hospitals returning to essential personnel only, we decided the following: to provide three 12 noon – 1 p.m. Wednesday gatherings in the courtyard of Holy Spirit on July 15 and 29, and August 12th. One or more of us will join you. Please wear a mask, bring a chair, whatever you would like for lunch with a beverage, bring an umbrella and we’ll gather safely for some prayer and conversation. (We will provide a few chairs for those in need.)
We will stay the course for now and not reopen the church buildings for large gatherings through August and then re-evaluate next steps. What we continue to learn about Covid19 and churches broadly, what we learned from our specific parish survey, and knowing Covid19 cases are increasing in our area, this still seems to be the most loving course for now. I do not say that lightly. I know that we all miss being together and want to be able to gather again as soon as possible, but as I said earlier, the church is not closed, only the buildings. We are all being invited and yes, challenged, to find new ways to express the love of God in our lives, in this particular moment and this particular place. We will continue to explore other ways of gathering for prayer. Meanwhile, talk over the phone, text, or Zoom together. The Spirit continues to encourage and lead us to whatever lies ahead. Remember one another in prayer. Give thanks. Know that you are loved.
Faithfully with you on the way,