As we enter into the second half of the year I want to give you an update on when we will be resuming our in-person gatherings. I say in-person gatherings because we never closed the church, we just closed the facility. We have been taking the word of God as found in Hebrews chapter 10:23-25 seriously, "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."
We have never forsaken gathering together even in this time of social distancing. We still:
- Have not missed a week of worship and gather every weekend multiple times as well as on-demand,
- Are praying every weekday morning as a church family at 7:30 am on the St. Paul Prayer Call,
- Are gathering for fellowship on a weekly basis with our virtual hangouts,
- Are receiving weekly growth opportunities through The Deeper Dive that is sent out every Wednesday,
- Are serving the community through the St. Paul Food Pantry every Thursday,
- Have smaller groups meeting, checking-in on one another, and taking care of each other.
We are also launching new ministry opportunities so that we can continue to grow as disciples, expand as a church, and introduce people to the Lord. This summer we are launching:
- The St. Paul Summer Book Club. The summer book club is an opportunity to read a good book, grow spiritually, and fellowship with one another. Details about this month's book are available elsewhere in this email.
- Having Virtual Vacation Bible School. As is our tradition we will be having Vacation Bible School this summer. This summer we will be partnering with our friends at Oxon Hill United Methodist Church to provide an experience that will be a blessing to both congregations.
I want to encourage you to make time on your calendar to participate in as many of these opportunities as possible. By participating you will feel connected, grow spiritually, and have a really good time.
Yet, this is not enough. We are continually working on new ministry opportunities and offerings that we can partake in to keep us engaged, connected, and growing throughout this time of social distancing.
Like many of you, I also long for worship in person. St. Paul currently has a Re-Entry Task Force working on how we can safely re-enter our facility. The Task Force is made up of multiple members of the church leadership and church body. We have asked people with many types of expertise to serve on this Task Force and have solicited outside consultants as well to make sure that we can enter safely when the time comes. The Task Force has been working on our re-entry plan for months now and we will have a well thought out and safe plan ready to go when the time comes.
I want you to know, my primary concern is the health and safety of the members, friends, and staff of the St. Paul Church. As much as I want to get back to in-person gatherings I am simply not willing to risk the health and safety of any of you. We have seen across the nation, states and institutions rushing back to open with disastrous results. We have seen churches that have re-opened and become COVID clusters infecting a great number of their members as well as family and friends they are connected to. I would not be able to live with myself if that happened at St. Paul.
The unique things that we do as a worshiping body, singing, offerings, readings, fellowship, and many other things unique to house of worship, meaning that we must be extra cautious with how we re-enter. We all want to come back, but we must balance our zeal with caution and prudence. I ask you to pray for the church and the nation during this time so we can re-enter in a safe and healthy manner.
I will continue to keep you informed through these blasts and Sunday morning announcements as there are developments. Right now, engage in the things that we are doing. Avail yourself of worship, fellowship, and growth opportunities. We are still the people of God called the church and we will gather in person again.
Stay safe and stay blessed!