On June 25, Pastor Brian shared these updates about in-person gatherings in his weekly email:
This is a weird season for “doing church.” The best guidance from public health officials continues to tells us that traditional ways of “doing church” (gathering indoors, close together, with singing and extended periods of close contact, etc.) are among the activities with the highest risk for spreading Covid-19. And yet, we also need each other – and we need what church gives us – we need connection to other people, we need hope, we need support.
The Haymarket Church Leadership Team has been hard at work over the past few months, working to help our church navigate our future and find ways to connect to each other and practice our faith together that are meaningful and that also prioritize the safety of our congregation and community. (Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey about returning to in-person worship – your responses were really helpful to us!) With all of that in mind, I want to share with you the plan we are working on for the next stage of our Covid-19 response.
Haymarket Church Covid-19 Response – Next Stage
- We will continue to prioritize online worship every Sunday, along with digital content throughout the week. We understand that even when some of us are able to get together in person, others of us won’t feel safe doing so. We also realize that we are reaching people with our online content who don’t live near us. So, online worship and digital content has to remain a priority.
- During July, we will be focusing on upgrading our online worship experience. We will be working on adding people to our band and tech team. We are exploring new technological options that will allow us to better incorporate videos and improve our video resolution. This work will require financial investment (along with some trial and error), but the reality is that livestream worship is here to stay (even once we are able to gather in-person)
- We will continue to offer online connection opportunities for the foreseeable future – including small groups, youth and children’s ministry resources, etc.
- We are working towards offering monthly outdoor worship services beginning in late July or early August. All the best data indicates that there is a significant difference between outdoor gatherings and indoor gatherings in terms of risk for spread. We are still working with officials representing our governing bodies (including the United Methodist Church in Virginia) on the exact details of these services and when they can begin. They will certainly require social distancing (at least 6 feet of separation) between all family units. They will probably require masks. But, it will be an opportunity to be together, to see each other, to offer a presence in the community, and to worship in the same place. These services will include songs led by our band, Scripture reading, prayer, and a brief sermon. We are exploring the possibility of offering communion. These worship services will likely happen at a time other than Sunday mornings – perhaps Sunday evenings or on Saturdays – which will enable us to continue to focus on offering an excellent Sunday morning online worship experience. We will share more details in the coming weeks.
- We are moving towards in-person, outdoor, youth gatherings over the summer. Our youth ministry is creating a plan for socially-distanced outdoor gatherings. Again, more details will be shared soon.
- We want to remind adult small groups that they are free to make their own choices about in-person gatherings, but also to encourage them to be safe and smart. Our building is not currently open to small group gatherings. But, the reality is that, as adults, you are free to make your own choices. If you want to get together with your small group or with friends from church at one of your homes, no one can stop you. And, realistically, we need connection right now, so having a socially distanced small group gathering in your driveway or in someone’s yard might be exactly what you need! If you do make that decision, we simply encourage you to take the appropriate precautions – stay outside, if you can, and practice physical distancing to the best of your ability.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions or suggestions about this plan.
We are blessed that we get to travel this strange road through 2020 together. I believe that God is going to lead us through this time of change into something beautiful and transformational. As we seek to follow Jesus faithfully, practice our faith passionately, and keep each other and our neighbors safe, I’m thankful for your continued patience and your love for Jesus. Haymarket Church is an amazing community of faith. I’m blessed to be part of it with you.