IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT CONCERNING CHURCH REOPENING FROM REV. RONA
Beloved Church Family,
During a long period in exile, when they had lost so much that was familiar and precious, the Prophet Jeremiah reassured his people,
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
On Monday May 18, 2020, the Massachusetts Council of Churches issued a statement in response to the phased economic reopening plan which included new minimum safety standards for reentry to houses of worship. I have attached the entire statement, which closes with these words:
“While much of the response to “reopening” has focused on the economy, we want to remind people of goodwill that the word “economy” comes from the Greek “οικονομία” oikonomía- the whole household of God. To care for the whole household of God means prioritizing not just the care of the fit and healthy, but of the sick and the lonely, the very old and very young. To care for the whole household of God means prioritizing the care of those most impacted. We have yet to see this prioritizing from our national and state leadership. We expect the Church to behave differently.”
Last evening our Church Council & Diaconate met (via Zoom) to discuss what sort of safety measures and policies we will need to put in place, before it is safe to gather in the Sanctuary again in person. With guidance from the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann and the City of Gloucester‘s Commission on Re-Opening (I serve on the sub-committee for Events, Culture & Churches), our church leaders have decided that while we do not anticipate gathering together again before September, we will meet monthly to review any new data and recommendations regarding the Covid-19 crisis.
What we learn during this time will guide our church policies regarding holy distancing, sanitation, policies around gathering for meals, the sacraments, singing and more. We have much to learn and the data continues to change. When we do gather again, it will be with confidence that we can do so safely.
While the doors to the church remain closed, our church is very much open. We worship together via Facebook & Website. We hold Coffee Hour on Fridays at 10am via Zoom. I am available by appointment for spiritual support, via phone or in person (outdoors with masks). A Meditation Garden & Labyrinth are being created behind the church. The Sacred Grove next to the church is a beautiful place to sit and pray; you may wish to bring a special rock to leave there, with or without a message on it. The original (1713!) of our church is a lovely walk from Bray St. through the woods. All of these sacred spaces are here for you to use and enjoy.
I love you. I miss you. I pray for you. Be safe. Be well. Be blessed.