June 24, 2020
Dear Friends at St. John’s
It has been too long since we have gathered together for worship and celebration and I have missed seeing each and every one of you! The Covid -19 virus has kept us close to home and concerns about the safety of gathering in large group settings has forced us into the world of virtual worship through our TV Ministry. While this format has fed our spirits and uplifted hearts it is has not satisfied our longing to see each other in person.
After a great deal of consideration our church leadership has determined that we will start in-person worship, for those who are comfortable with gathering, on Sunday July 5, 2020. In making this decision it was necessary to balance our desire to be together, with our responsibility to protect members of our worshiping community, and our community as a whole, while recognizing the fact that no method exists to fully do this.
While we all long for things to be just like they have always been, the uncertainty of our times will force us into a different experience. Yes, for a while, things will be different. But just because things are different doesn’t mean it will be a negative experience! I have often dreaded doing things in a different way, but almost always have come away from the experience feeling positively energized and excited.
For the rest of the summer, July and August, we will have one service of worship. It will be held at 9:30am in the parish hall. This will be a blended service featuring elements of both our traditional and celebration worship. We ask each attendee to wear a mask or face shield and observe social distancing practices. If you do not have one or forget yours, they will be provided upon entry. Seating will be set up in a manner that provides distance, and ushers will be available to assist you to your seat. While we will not be singing, for a while, special music will be provided by our choirs and other special solos and ensembles. Communion will not be served until we can determine a method, and obtain elements that will allow for this to done safely. Hand sanitizer will be accessible and we encourage its use. Please take your temperature before you attend worship and if it is elevated, or you don’t feel well, stay home and worship with us remotely. There will be no coffee or other beverages served, however you are invited to bring your own beverage from home.
One final matter of importance. For the first three weeks worship attendance the parish hall will be limited to 25 worshipers. This is being done to make sure we can gather in the parish hall and safely proceed in and out. You can ensure your place for July 5th by contacting Pastor Bob on Thursday, July 2, 2020 between 9am and noon at either his cell phone 419-565-5414 or by sending him an email at email@example.com. The following weeks please contact Ashley Baker at the church office at 419-522-2813 on the Thursday before worship between 9am and noon or by sending her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . If we have more than 25 persons sign up, those who contact Pastor Bob or Ashley after the room is full will be given first priority for the next weeks service. If more than 25 gathers for worship on a Sunday morning seating will be available in the main sanctuary where you will be able to hear but not see the service. Again, masking and appropriate distancing will be observed. We will review this process at our July Council meeting to determine if these seating limitations can be adjusted.
As I said earlier things will be different. Be assured your leadership is listening to our Still Speaking God, who is with us even during this difficult time, and doing all we can to make worship meaningful and safe for this season of our life together!
Peace and blessings to all of you,
Pastor Bob Jencks
Jim Henry, Council President
Here at St. John’s United Church of Christ…
our purpose is to be the heart of Christ
in the heart of Mansfield,
connecting our love of God to love of neighbor;
our mission is to equip followers of Christ to grow
in both personal faith and social responsibility;
our vision identifies us
as a gathering of faithful and collaborative Christians
seeking a just world for all.