15 Sep A First Step: Calvary’s Statement on Racial Justice
On Saturday Calvary’s Session met via Zoom, as we have been doing monthly since April. We followed up on two important conversations that, I believe, will be of particular interest to you. First, the Session discussed and agreed upon a statement of Racial Justice which you can read here. This statement is now posted on the church website and social media platforms, so that as visitors check out who we are and what we believe, there will be no doubt where we stand as a church on this issue.
Just as important to note, however, is that this statement represents only a first step. In no way do we see it as the end of our responsibility or our conversation. We anticipate that specific and practical steps will evolve over time as we continue to wrestle with systemic racism and our responses to it, both individually and as a congregation. For example, next steps might include a resource page on our website that lists books, organizations, websites and articles for further study and information; inviting guest speakers to address race-related topics; or offering a class or facilitated discussion group on race relations. The possibilities are legion.
I know many of you are already reading, talking with friends and family, and prayerfully considering your personal experiences of and responses to issues around race. One of the gifts we can offer one another is to share what we are learning and to reflect together on what our new insights and understandings lead us to do differently. We will need to be creative and intentional during these COVID-driven days to seek out ways of sharing what we are learning. I know this is well underway, even as we acknowledge we have a long way to go. Keep at it, friends! This church has a strong and faithful legacy of opening our arms and hearts to people from myriad backgrounds—and finding ways to be One Body in Christ. One final note on the Calvary statement: Elder Rose Karikari deserves credit and thanks for her excellent exegesis of the Lost Sheep parable.
The second item the Elders discussed was related to worship. As has been the case for each of the past six months, the final unanimous conclusion about whether it is safe to return to in-person worship was “not yet.” However, the Session has begun to lay out a framework for hybrid worship (in-person simultaneous with live-streaming) as well as the benchmarks that would allow us to re-open the sanctuary.
This is what you need to know for now: when in-person worship resumes, whenever that may be, it will be very, very different from what we are accustomed to. To state the most obvious: masks will be mandatory and physical distancing will be observed. Beyond the basics, in the first phase of re-opening, the service will be streamlined and shortened. There will be no hymns or congregational singing. Singing is one of the most effective ways to spread an aerosol-born virus, and in groups, may well be off the table until after a vaccine is widely available.
Radical changes will also be necessary to how we enter and exit the building and the sanctuary, how we partake of communion, and where we sit. Children will stay in the sanctuary with their parents or grandparents throughout worship, and coffee hour will not resume for… well, I have no idea for how long.
I am guessing none of this comes as a big surprise. I share this with you now because we all need to manage our expectations. The pandemic will continue to shape our lives not only for the next few months but well into 2021. When we are able to safely re-open the sanctuary, we will not be “returning to normal”—in fact, it will be anything but. Instead, I trust we will prepare for it and embrace it when it arrives as the “next right step” in what will likely be a long journey of steps between now and the day something akin to “normal” is back. Still, I will be overjoyed to see you in person when we get there. Between now and then, please be careful and stay safe.
Yours for the Kingdom,