In June, the Board of First United made a decision that worship will continue “online only” throughout the summer months. A small working group is looking at the safety and feasibility of re-opening our building and eventually offering limited in-person worship (in addition to continuing to offer worship online, likely through livestreaming). No decisions have been made at this time to return to worship in the sanctuary and currently our building remains closed to the public.
We, as staff, have wrestled with the state we’re in, since the pandemic quarantine began. Laura Stephens-Reed is an American “clergy and congreational coach” and she writes of current ministry work-life in this way,
In the past three months you have remained faithful to the gospel and your call, learning how to produce or livestream worship, preach to webcams and empty sanctuaries, reach new constituencies via online platforms, offer pastoral care and spiritual formation from a distance, and manage virtual meetings. You have lost sleep over when and how to re-gather physically as church. You have responded to the disparate calls to re-open immediately and to keep the doors closed until the rate of infection trends downward. You have wondered how to be church to those who don’t have smartphones or computers. Your head has nearly exploded from all the Zoom gatherings you’ve attended…(Stephens-Reed’s full post is here.)
We’ve been there! And in lots of ways, we are adapting to it being our new “here”. You can help us plan for the summer and the fall by sharing your wishes and concerns. We have some questions to ask and we have put together a brief survey for you to fill out and give us your feedback and your ideas.
With restrictions easing in the province and as we have moved into Phase 3, we are seeing reopening plans in congregations and youth programs in various locations around BC. Summer day camps and sport programs are opening. We had made the decision not to hold Vacation Adventure this year.
But as we have all experienced throughout this time, things have had to remain fluid and situations can change quickly as well as over time as we learn more about the virus and how it is transmitted, as our own context here in BC and in Kelowna has developed.
We’d like to gauge interest/expectation of you all in worship and building usage and also for families, the willingness to have your children participate in in-person Christian education programs, possibly in the summer and in the Fall.
There are several factors to weigh in making a decision about whether we offer programs such as Vacation Adventure and Sunday School.
One is that our programs, traditionally, have been heavily volunteer-dependent; they require older youth and adult supervision and expertise. Another is the interest level, based on the feeling of parents about the safety of such activities and their willingness to have their children involved. We recognize that this might be informed by factors such as the limits to our church building and infrastructure.
Your time to fill out this questionnaire (and provide any other feedback you wish!) will help the staff, the board, the Education Core Ministry and the Worship Core Ministry proceed with plans for worship and children’s programming at First in the coming months.
Thank you so much!