We are all asking the same questions. When will this pandemic end? How can I keep those I love safe? When will we be able to resume life as it used to be? How will schools reopen? Just as you are asking these “when” and “how” questions about every aspect of your lives, your church is carefully considering how and when our intergenerational church family might begin regathering.
The BMPC Re-Gathering Taskforce, made up of church leaders and medical professionals (Rich Allman, Anita Iyengar, Chris Libson, Bill McKee, Tom Willcox, Anne Wendel, Parish Nurse Carol Cherry and myself) was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help us navigate these complex questions.
The taskforce has been tracking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other medical experts, and the recommendations of state and local governments to begin imagining a gradual reopening of our church campus for worship and programs. Based on these recommendations and the current reality of the increasing viral activity across the United States, we are not ready to recommend resumption of large group gatherings at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.
The CDC and numerous medical experts agree that the most dangerous settings for transmitting the coronavirus are indoor locations where large groups of people are talking and singing. There are now many documented cases of worship services and church activities that have become “super-spreader” events.
The Re-Gathering Taskforce will continue meeting regularly to reassess the situation and update our recommendations. In the meantime, we have developed protocols emphasizing the four pillars of safety, including hand hygiene, screening, physical distancing and wearing masks, which will be implemented for any re-gathering.
With responsibility for enforcing these guidelines, the pastors and senior staff are allowed to host small outdoor in-person gatherings, conduct small weddings and memorial services, and host indoor pastoral meetings one on one or with couples and families.
The Re-Gathering Taskforce will continue to monitor the COVID-19 public health data and scientific information and will make further recommendations to Session as we move forward.
As we prepare for fall, we are committed to providing resources to nurture the spiritual life and engage the missional outreach of our congregation by offering quality and creative worship and programming, both virtually and eventually in some hybrid virtual/in-person small gatherings.
At a recent graveside service in our Memorial Garden for one of the saints of our congregation, I was privileged to read the familiar words of Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The burdens of all those making difficult decisions these days feel pretty heavy – in churches, schools, homes, continuing care communities, prisons, essential services, places of business and commerce, and governments near and far. Let’s join in a spirit of prayer and patience as we seek to be faithful to our calling and also find rest for our souls in the Living Christ.