From the Pastor’s Pen ~ March 31, 2021

It is Holy Week, friends! It is the second Holy Week we’ve experienced amid this global pandemic that is still with us, hanging on to the very end.

The Holy Week story is one full of ups and downs and dramatic turns. From a hopeful process into Jerusalem, to Jesus angry in the Temple, to a celebratory Passover feast replete with sad reminders of things to come… you know the rest. Holy Week is such a human venture which thankfully ends with a divine exclamation mark!

If I had to say where we were as a nation in the pandemic’s passion story, we are on Holy Saturday. Good Friday has happened, but Easter hasn’t yet.  We are either deeply sad and self-insulated or numb and wanting to move on despite the reality. Easter certainly is going to happen, but not on this day. We must wait a little longer.

Maybe you see where I am going with this… We are seeing another surge of cases, and it appears a 4th – and final – wave has commenced. While many of us, me included, have been vaccinated at least with the first dose, and while the elderly will be less effected by the 4th wave because of vaccinations, those not yet vaccinated will endure the bulk of it, largely thanks to the spread of variants of the original Covid virus. Until more younger people are vaccinated and until the onset of summer possibly, the spread looks like it will continue. We need to continue to mask up, and for the unvaccinated, extra vigilantly. Maybe wear two masks if you are not vaccinated and in the context where social distancing is difficult.

But what about C.C.P.? What about Worship Service? Important questions… And here is the important news you need to know

The hope and plan was for us to return to full, in-person worship on April 11th. Then the latest surge came. As of today, there has been in Connecticut a 54% increase in the number of cases across 14 days.

So, we have decided, because of the surge in cases, to return but in the safest way possible – with both online and outdoor services on Sundays for April and possibly May. We will do a hybrid approach like we are doing for Easter. The hybrid will be composed of a shorter version of the online worship services we have been doing at 10 am and a short 11 am outdoor service. Think a memorial service but for the living followed by an empty-graveside service in front of the church.

One big benefit of starting with in-person outdoors as we return is that our young people and younger families will feel freer to join us. Families I know will likely not come to in-door services with a spike of cases happening. But outdoor services will be more attractive in this regard.

Please note, MASKS will still be required with the outdoors service. We will be singing! And breakthrough cases of variant virus might still be possible, making masks prudent, especially amid mixed crowds of vaccinated and non-vaccinated folks.

I know this is disappointing to hear for many of you. It is for me, too, and for more reasons than one. It means more work for me! But I think for April it is the wisest, most prudent choice. While it is extra-cautious on our part because of the demographics of our congregation, I think as a community we should always seek to model the way of prudence and compassion. Folks in the community should see in us a discerning, safe, and compassionate community. Fully opening up amid a surge does not model prudence, I feel.

And who knows, we might love the hybrid model!

I am sure you have the question – what if it rains? In the case of rain in the forecast, we won’t do the outdoor portion of the hybrid service. We will announce this by Friday before. On those rainy Sunday mornings, one will be able to on their own say a prayer and give their tithes and offerings in the sanctuary which will be open Sunday mornings (10 – 11:30 am). I will be there outside to greet you and check-in with umbrella in hand.

At the end of April, we will discern next steps.

Thanks so much for your patience and understanding. It won’t be long!!

Rev Don

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