A Message from Ellen
April 28, 2021
April 28, 2021
I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to feel like we do see a light at the end of the tunnel. For the last few weeks, we have had more folks in worship, and last weekend I led a Presbyterian Women’s retreat with about 30 women in the Fellowship Hall. We had some new Members join last Sunday and called the children who were in worship forward for “Time with Young Disciples” for the first time in well over a year! On Pentecost we will welcome the members of the 2021 Confirmation Class into adult membership at FLPC. There are so many things that give me hope. And I am grateful for some of the small things that feel more like a return to normal.
And, at the same time, I know that “return to normal” is really an illusion. It is important to remind ourselves that we will never “return to normal” if by that we mean that life will go back to just as it was in January of 2020 when we were blissfully going to the grocery store without masks. Our world has changed, and it seems increasingly likely that while the vaccines do purchase us some more freedom to gather, it is a delusion to say that there is no more risk and irresponsible to cease wearing masks in some situations in order to guard the health and well-being of our neighbors. Things are better, but let’s not tell ourselves that there is no more risk.
For now, Session has approved increasing the number of people in worship. The Ushers can seat people in the sanctuary, PROVIDED that masks are worn and social distancing is observed. We still request that you reserve your spot in the sanctuary for worship every Sunday. This allows us to keep a record of who attends worship (both for our record keeping and in case of the need for contact tracing), but we will also do our best to seat people until the sanctuary is completely full. We ask that you wait for the Ushers to seat you to try to ensure that everyone is spaced appropriately. We ask that you still wear masks in worship and as you come and go in the church buildings. We currently ask that you not sing the first hymn, but we invite everyone to sing – with masks on – the final hymn. This is in keeping with the best studies about limiting the time spent in a large group where particulate virus could collect inside a room. We sing the final hymn and then go outside, limiting the group’s potential exposure. We know that we will continue to hold zoom meetings and that, even as we begin to tip toe back to in person meetings, we will continue to allow online attendance (we call this a hybrid meeting – some in person and some online). Our livestreaming of worship and other events in the sanctuary will continue. Serving food continues to be limited and we are finding our way forward and working hard to follow guidelines provided by DHEC (ServeSafe) and CDC.
Things are better! But they will not be the same. However, I am convinced that we must let go of the past and be actively asking God to show us how to use our NEW normal to serve God’s purposes. This pandemic has given us some clarity and some gifts that can now use to serve God’s purposes more clearly. How will we use the moment God has given us to serve God’s values, purpose and Church as we move forward into the future that God holds for us – unafraid?
Ellen Fowler Skidmore