Virtual Church Update for Fall 2020
by Pastor Mark
Greetings from The Congregational Church of Huntington, United Church of Christ. Even though our building has been closed we have stayed active as a church—in on-line worship, educational programs, and outreach through our no-contact food pantry collections. Our primary source of hope and goodwill during this difficult time is the enthusiasm and love of our congregation. Thank you all for your dedication and creativity to make the best of a (very) bad situation!
Unfortunately, we will continue to be under this pandemic threat for the coming months, and combined with the other stresses of the world, we fear a difficult time ahead. Our Fall worship services and programs are being planned to directly confront these challenges. We will have worship services designed to bring hope and courage to counter the despair and pain of our world. We are also going to begin virtual church school classes. And we are listening to our members to find out how we may be most helpful in this time of need.
We closely monitor the infection rates to explore the possibility for church programming. From the beginning of the pandemic we have been guided by these values:
- Safety for us all—we will follow the latest scientific and medical guidance to insure the safest environment we can. Current guidelines for worship forbid group singing, responsive prayers, passing of the peace, communion, offerings, fellowship hour and church school—in addition to having good sanctuary ventilation, maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
- Equity—we will strive to have an equal opportunity for all our members to access our programs in a safe manner with the highest quality. This will mean keeping our on-line worship whenever we come back to in-person worship.
- Service—we will remain in service to the greater good of our community. As necessary we will continue to sacrifice our in-person programs to serve the greater need of health for all people. One lesson of the pandemic is the need for us all to work together for the good of the whole.
Given the current concerns for Covid-19 and the need to serve the needs of our local community our church council has decided to continue virtual worship at least through the end of 2020. Each of the council members feels the pain of distance and the desire to be together, but the church needs to sacrifice our in-person services in order to keep everyone safe and help the larger community.
By making this decision now we can begin to make plans for the fall and winter. We look forward to creative and innovative worship services and programs to meet the spiritual needs of all of our members. We will continue to monitor the situation and will be open to revisiting our decision if there is a significant change in the pandemic world.
We have had a wonderful reception for our virtual worship service and regularly have twice the number of worshippers than comparable in-person services—and we have people with us from all over the world. We are also restarting Pastor Mark’s popular Bible study class and the Benefit Committee is planning more virtual concerts after the success of our summer series. In addition, we will hold Youth Leadership Council events, church school programs and other special programs to bring our members together and build our spiritual lives.
If you have not yet come to Zoom worship you should check it out. The virtual platform provides a surprisingly effective worship experience and a chance to connect with our church friends. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact either of us. We look forward to seeing you in worship and our other church programs.
In God’s Love,
Rev. Mark Bigelow Bonnie Dawkins
May 23, 2020
May 22, 2020