To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. ~Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1
Friends and siblings in Christ,
As we consider safely reopening, the famous lines from Hamlet’s soliloquy keep popping into my head. In this speech, Hamlet is pondering life and death, even suicide. Life is full of suffering and woe, but perhaps the alternative is worse.
It’s a dark journey through Hamlet’s mind. But we are not strangers to death, darkness, weariness or fear. And as people of the Gospel, we admit that hope has a habit of bubbling up in places expected and unexpected! To hope or to fear. To persist or despair. These are our questions. As is:
To open, or not to reopen, that is a question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The discomfort and inconvenience of isolation, masks and homeschooling,
Or to take arms against a sea of virus
And by opening risk them.
~with abject apologies to Wm. Shakespeare
It’s not a fair comparison, but still we ponder: To re-open or not to re-open?
The answer is yes, kind of.
Beginning mid-to-late September, we will try a soft reopen for limited numbers this fall. Here is who will possibly come back:
- Small groups, circles, book and bible studies, ministry teams.
- We are doing a survey of our families to discover if there is an interested in rotating small groups through the building for children and youth faith formation.
- Limited outside groups, such as AA.
- Weddings and funerals with a capacity of 50 people, including all staff.
We are focusing the reopen on mission and ministry; we won’t be open for strictly social gatherings. We encourage you to make the safest and most inclusive choice for your group, keeping in mind the well-being of your most vulnerable members.
Masks and distancing will be required. Entrance and exit will be “choreographed”, coffee and treats cannot be shared. You may be asked to be flexible about the days and times you meet. And we continue to support the decision to remain virtual, especially if meeting in person will exclude those who could meet virtually.
The council will receive and respond to the Re-Entry Team’s proposed pandemic plan and reopen guidelines at their August meeting. (This newsletter will have gone to print by then.) Group leaders will be notified shortly thereafter. Keep an eye on your email, the bulletin, and future issues of Trinity Today.
We covet your patience and earnest cooperation as we work our way through this transition. If the governor’s orders change, we will swiftly comply.
What about in-person worship? While the governor allows us to worship at 50% capacity up to 250, the re-entry team, council and leaders do not believe that to be the safest choice. Also, offering worship to an even more limited number results in exclusion and increased isolation for the vulnerable, which is inconsistent with the spirit of Christian worship, the Gospel or Trinity’s values of radical hospitality and authentic community. Therefore, worship will continue online for the foreseeable future (and at the drive-in, weather permitting).
We all long to worship in person, especially when we hear that some churches are back in their sanctuaries. No one feels that more acutely than your pastors and worship staff. And we take seriously Jesus’ command to love our neighbor. Even God, speaking through the prophets, asks God’s people to reconsider the value of worship when they fail to tend the vulnerable in their midst. It is in that spirit, we preference the most vulnerable, wear our masks, offer the best online worship we can and, with you, look forward to the day when we can worship in person and no one is excluded.
To reopen or not to reopen? We move ahead in caution, safety and hope. Yes, these are days when hope feels hard to come by, but hope is at the center of the Gospel. Hope is our life’s blood, our breath and our nourishment. So, from Paul’s letter to the Romans:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
In the eternal hope of Jesus Christ and in deep love for you.