September 22, 2020
My Dear Friends,
It seems hard to believe we’ve been out of our sanctuary for Sunday worship for 6 months now. When we first made the decision to stop gathering in person, we all thought it was a matter of months before we’d be back together. We wondered how we could ever celebrate Palm Sunday or Easter without the usual pomp and celebration – and yet we found new perspectives. We creatively waved palms in front of our screens at home and realized our Easter Sunday was much more like that of the disciples than we’d ever experienced before! There we were, huddled in various rooms, with no idea of what the future held; yet, they continued to meet. And we continue to meet. I am very grateful to be a part of this church community as you have all been wonderfully supportive and incredibly patient during our sudden transition to online worship, glitches and all.
A couple months into the pandemic, the Session of MCPC met to discuss what would be our best way of going forward. Having viewed informative webinars provided by our presbytery and knowing much of our congregation is in the “high-risk” population that is more vulnerable to infection with serious complications and possible death, we made the decision to keep the building closed and to wait for a successful vaccine campaign before we thought it safe to worship together again.
After much deliberation, Session has approved our having the Pumpkin Patch once again. We consider it a sign of hope to the community as well as continuing our commitment to the Navajo Nation that benefits from the sales. We have developed protocols for some outdoor events as well as for individuals in the building.
Recognizing that other community churches have returned to their worship spaces, there is a conflict between what we want to do and what is safe to do. As one wise person has put it, Every person is different in how they assess risk from Covid 19, as well as their own personal risk based on their health status & age. Each one of us every day is making decisions about how much exposure we are willing to risk and if we feel comfortable with that risk (ie: should we go to work, continue volunteer work, meet with family or friends, go to grocery store, order takeout food etc.). As your Session continues to wrestle with the challenges and risks while attempting to discern how best to “be church” in the future, we seek your input and guidance. If you have seen new ways of providing worship services or have other ideas to help us plan for the future, please share them with your pastor or a Session member.
The fact that we are now available online has changed the dynamics of church attendance. In the past, when roads were icy or other dangerous conditions seemed imminent, we cancelled Sunday service – we did this not only to keep everyone safe but also so no one would feel absent from worship. With our current online presence, we are providing the option of being in worship while absent from the sanctuary. Even so, we remain concerned about members feeling left out.
As we continue to struggle with possible opportunities for worship besides the usual Sunday morning services, we also seek new ways to “gather.” Women of the church have gathered via Zoom to share lunch together and men of the church have continued their Saturday breakfast gatherings for inspiration – also via Zoom. What other ways might we provide opportunities to be together even while we are physically apart?
Connection is one of the most important aspects of our congregational life and we want to know if you are feeling disconnected and, if so, how can we help? I am grateful to the shepherd elders and deacons who have been maintaining contact with each of you. If we’ve missed you somehow, please let us know! It is harder to keep track of who is “present” these days but it is no less important for us to do so. If you have any ideas, questions or concerns – please give us a call!
We are here if you need us – and we need you as well.
In gratitude and hope,