Dear U Park Family,
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to imagine a more Easter-y Easter week. After the snow and rain, Gayla and I are seeing spring perennials pop up in our yard. I know it’s an illusion, but suddenly it seems that sunsets are coming later than just a week ago, and sunrises earlier. On an early morning bicycle ride yesterday I heard migratory birds singing, returned from their winter away. And maybe most of all, it feels like Easter week because COVID-19 vaccinations continue their steady rise – we’re getting closer to the social resurrection we’ve all craved for months.
At the church and the Evanston center, we’re beginning small group meetings again. Last night, we held our first hybrid committee meeting, with people present both in person and on Zoom. On both Holy Thursday and Good Friday, we held five-hour prayer vigils, where people could spend time by appointment at prayer stations in the Sanctuary. We’re planning summer events, held outside in the courtyard and in the common areas of the church. We’re making a slow and careful return to church life in person.
Still, as we’ve all seen in news reports, we’re clearly not out of the woods yet. In Colorado and across the country, we’re seeing what public health officials are calling a fourth surge. Partly, it seems to be brought on by new and more contagious COVID-19 variants taking hold; and partly it’s because people are being too optimistic about gathering in person again. Thankfully, death rates from the pandemic seem to be continuing their decline.
Unsurprisingly, I’m often asked about our plans to reopen the church. Next week at our Administrative Council meeting, we’ll discuss a reopening plan set to markers such as vaccination and positivity rates, rather than tied to exact dates. When we do begin in-person worship, we’ll start with capped attendance and online signups, expanding gradually as the risk of contagion declines. Our Sanctuary’s real limit is not seating capacity, but ventilation – so we’ll need to think carefully about how to minimize risk as we begin to worship in person.
I’m grateful to all of you in the U Park faith community for your patience and understanding as we navigate these complex times. Even with all of the unknowns, it’s still the Easter season: we know that new life triumphs and that we will be gathering in person again.
Grace and Peace,