Good Morning Faith Family!

August 23rd

It’s another beautiful day on Madison Street and we are so happy to have you worshipping with us whether you are doing so via the Internet or in your folding chair. Many of you are wondering and/or asking when we will return to our sanctuary for Sunday worship. Recently, the Session voted to continue outdoor worship through the month of September. At the September Session meeting, we will make the decision whether or not to take advantage of the fine weather that October usually offers or to return indoors. We recognize that you may be longing to return to your traditional pew surrounded by stained glass windows, and buoyed by the music from a truly exceptional organ and organist. As you can tell, I long for that, too. I don’t know about you, but in my own life, no matter what other storms were brewing, I always knew that on Sunday morning, I was going to be in my pew. Our sanctuary has always been a constant respite in chaos. And now, it’s just one more place that I miss along with the bleachers at Faurot field, my son’s college campus, and the homes of relatives and friends. This is hard on all of us and we are all going to need patience so we can “with endurance run the race that is set before us.”

Before returning to worship in our sanctuary, there are many considerations of which not everyone is aware. The Bible reminds us that our bodies are “wonderfully and fearfully made” as “temples of God” Our Presbyterian beliefs remind us that we are stewards of these bodies given to us by God. As such, our primary concern is the health of every member of our church family. When we return to indoor worship, we will have to make accommodations. To maintain social distancing, we cannot have all of our regular worshipers in our sanctuary at once. It is likely that we will need to create a system of reservations or a rotation of families to avoid overcrowding. Hosting multiple services on a single day would require that the sanctuary be thoroughly cleaned between services and this is not logistically possible. In fact, in order to keep our sanctuary as clean as possible, we will be storing hymn books and bibles until the end of the pandemic. We want to extend our thanks to Tom Holt for the shelves he is building for this purpose. Though we will be able to enjoy special music and hear the organ, we will be unable to sing hymns together in our sanctuary. Bulletins are yet another way for Covid to travel from one person to another, so it is likely that we will need to project the order of worship. When we do return to worship, it will be another “new normal” in our lives.

God never leaves us without hope! God has granted his people with energy and creativity. There will be a vaccine and we look forward to rejoicing together when herd immunity is achieved. The goal of the Session is that every member will be able to rejoice with us on that glorious day. Every member of our family is valuable and should even one life be lost to the Covid pandemic, it would be a great tragedy. I think it would be an even bigger tragedy if a life was compromised or lost because we were too impatient or lazy to take the precautions that were recommended to us by medical experts.

So for now, we feel that Madison Street offers us the opportunity to be together unencumbered by space limitations. We have been blessed with cool breezes, shade, and for all but one Sunday: sunshine! Please know that your ability to worship with us, whether online or in person, is really important to church staff and leaders. If you need help accessing the service, please contact the church office and someone will be able to help you. We are so grateful for everyone who has helped make our outside worship happen.

The church is not a building; it’s us. Like the Apostles at Pentecost, we have gone out into the street. Neighbors passing by see a faithful community of believers. God is present in the pandemic. He is present in Jefferson City. God is here on Madison Street. All things work for good for those who love the Lord. No doubt God is working through these trying circumstances, shaking us out of complacency and helping us to do new things and think in new ways. Praise be to God!

Ruthie Caplinger, Elder, Chair Church Growth and Evangelism Written for the Session