“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” Psalm 122:1
Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Dear family in Christ, with great joy I echo the words of Psalm 122. The day is almost here- the day of our regathering as a community of worship in-person, Sunday, June 14. It has been a long wait.
During this extraordinary interval, God has been at work in our lives. Faith grows stronger in times of adversity. Hope waxes brighter in times of deprivation. Love grows deeper in times of absence, one from another. Throughout this time, God has been present, in every household and every believing heart. He has truly been our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1).
Now it is time to set in motion our plans for a re-opening of the sanctuary and facilities for Sunday morning worship. We have so prayed and waited for this day, and it will be a good day indeed. But it will not be a return to “normal”, as we knew it before- not yet, anyway. We will have three morning services- 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00, and each service will be limited to approximately 100 people, since households will be distanced from one another. In order to attend a service, you must sign up beforehand, a sign-up link is available on the next page, you may also call the church office to RSVP. We will give first preference for the 8:00 service to our older members (65+) and members who fall into the high-risk category. The Ushers will be wearing masks. We encourage all of you to do so as well, we will have a supply of disposable masks available. Offering plates will not be passed. Nor will we “pass the peace.” The pew racks will be empty. And even though we love having coffee and visiting after church, we will encourage you all to go home, for everyone’s safety and out of love for your neighbor. Please be patient; we are confident that in time, things will return to normal patterns of closeness. The service itself will be abridged (some of you may be pleased about that!), since we will need to allow for the sanctuary to be wiped down and sprayed after each service. As of this writing, we cannot yet launch into our Sunday School Classes, and Vacation Bible School, as planned, will be “distance”.
Worshipping face-to-face once again is a big step for us. In order to make the day successful by all measures, I exhort you to please read the accompanying pages, which highlight the steps that are being taken for the safety and sense of well-being for all. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call us, and we’ll try to answer your concerns as effectively as possible.
A significant number of you do not yet feel comfortable returning to in-person events such as a church service. That’s OK! Please do not feel you are under spiritual compulsion of any kind to show up in person, if you do not feel it is the right time for you. Know that your pastors and congregation support you in this, and we will continue to offer YouTube video services even after the pandemic, for those who cannot attend, or at a distance for any reason. You are as much a loved and esteemed part of our church as ever!
I am personally encouraged by the considerable degree to which this congregation has maintained a positive and helpful outlook during this pandemic. This is shown by a number of you who may actually disagree with our church’s seeming compliance with orders issued by state and local governments, when you have voluntarily donned face masks and maintained distance out of love and consideration for your neighbors.
In this spirit, I would ask that all of us please continue to observe this same consideration, as we prepare to come together. In addressing a major social issue, St. Paul instructs the Corinthian church to “take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to [those of a more sensitive conscience]- I Cor. 8:9.” And he instructs the Roman Christians to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding (Rom. 14:19).” If we approach June 14 in this spirit, it will truly be a wonderful and joyful day, which honors our Lord and blesses all who are in attendance! May God continue to bless all of you, and we will look forward to see many of you on June 14.
In Christ’s love,
Pastors Eric Ishimaru and Joe Dapelo
Please continue reading for important guidelines to help you prepare for a return to in-person worship. We thank you in advance for your understanding, cooperation, and grace as we navigate these directives together.
RSVP HERE ---> https://bit.ly/SPLC6-21SERVICE