At their May meeting, the Congregation Council voted unanimously to begin a return to in-person activities at Holy Trinity on Sunday, June 6. You’ll see more details about that return in another article in this month’s issue (page 4).
That article can describe the logistics of this process. But it can’t really explain how we will need to be attentive to re-building community in the process. That’s for us to learn as we go. For example:
Some folks may choose to attend worship in person, but will stay apart from other worshipers. After more than a year of being told that physical distance is important and preventative, that’s perfectly understandable. So we will respect one another’s need for physical distance.
Some folks may choose not to attend worship in person, but will stay with our on-line, live-stream gathering. This may be especially true for those whose age or medical condition makes them especially vulnerable. It may also be true for families with young children who cannot yet be vaccinated. Again…perfectly understandable. So we will reach out to those folks by other means to make sure they know that they are a vital part of this community of faith.
Some folks may not ever be able to join us in the building on Sunday morning because they live in Wisconsin or Maine or Illinois or New York or in one of the other myriad places quite a ways distance from Akron, Ohio. A good number of these folks who have joined us in the past year have done so with enthusiasm and consistency and generosity. What a blessing it is to include in this community those both near and far who are dedicated to our mission of bringing Jesus to people by love and the Word of God. So we will continue to include them in the work we share.
And there are other considerations, too. Who is ready for a hug and who is not? Who is aching to sing while in this transitional time we do not sing? Who is tired of wearing a mask but, for the sake of others gathered in a room with no real air flow or exchange, will wear a mask anyhow?
It occurs to me that a significant part of our return to more in-person activities is simply about paying attention to one another…to communicating clearly and honestly our concern for one another’s physical and emotional safety. It means learning and exercising some personal humility before the needs of others. And it means expressing our gratitude to God for making it possible through this past year to actually expand this community in ways that we would never have discovered without the changes forced upon us by the pandemic.
Dear friends, the process ahead of us will be one of growth and discovery as we learn how God will use this newly-constituted congregation in a changed environment. You can expect that our methods for being church will continue to change and evolve with the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But our mission? That does not change…and neither does our message. Regardless of how it is expressed, we are still called to live out the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for the sake of this world that God loves so much. So we will love, too. We will love one another and our neighbors. And most of all, we will love the God who has gathered us (by whatever means) to be a people of joy and hope. We are and will continue to be God’s people…together. †