(News, May 30, 2020)
Dear Brothers and Sisters;
The purpose of this update is to share our (revised) reopening plans, especially for Sunday School and child care during worship.
The coronavirus shutdown has been a trial for all of us, and yet James says to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” As we reopen in-person gatherings at Trinity Fellowship we are counting on God to bring joy and the good fruit of steadfastness to each person in our body.
When we started our cautious reopening of worship the second week of May, we were hoping that circumstances would allow us to resume both adult and children’s Sunday School beginning next week, June 7, 2020. For several reasons outlined below, we are postponing that part of our reopening plan on a month-to-month basis, while immediately adding opportunities for child care during worship and for engagement with Scripture during the Sunday School hour.
Summary of Next Steps:
First, we will continue to remain open for worship and we encourage you to come. We will continue to set up the worship service for social distancing and encourage those who come to show concern for the needs of others by making sure you’re symptom-free and not vulnerable or exposed, washing or sanitizing as you enter the building, and maintaining distance while socializing.
Second, we are not going to start adult or children’s Sunday School in a formal sense right away. Our in-person attendance (at this writing) means that the interaction and discussion needed for adult Sunday School isn’t possible yet. We do plan to kick off both adult and children’s programs as soon as the situation allows. This temporary postponement will ensure that the programs we’ve planned have maximum impact.
Third, we are going to offer two new reopening steps beginning June 7, 2020. For children, we will offer child care in the building by arrangement with the CE committee. If you need child care and want your children receiving individual sharing of the faith during the worship service, several of our wonderful teachers have volunteered to begin meeting that need. For adults, the elders are going to be reading and discussing Scripture, live and on Zoom during part of the Sunday School hour and we hope you’ll join us.
Finally, this plan will continue and be re-evaluated on a month-by-month basis
Why not go to full Sunday School now?
There is a legitimate tension between those who are comfortable and just want to get back to fellowship and those who are cautious out of concern for others who are vulnerable. Both positions are valid, and we need to address the needs on both sides. Some of us, roughly 30 to 40, have been comfortable coming back to worship. But even with social distancing guidelines in place, the majority have been making the individual decision that it’s not yet time for them to return to in-person worship. Until we see more folks coming to in-person worship, we will not be confident that enough folks will come to Sunday School to make it effective.
We are excited about the youth-to-adult class we had planned for the summer. It is a study on challenges to the Christian faith, adapted from Rebecca McLaughlin’s book Confronting Christianity. Jumping off from the chapters in that book, the elders are planning to teach on subjects like “How Can You Say There’s Only One True Faith?” “Isn’t the Bible Full of Contradictions?” “How Could a Loving God Allow So Much Suffering?” and many other contemporary challenges. We’re still planning on doing this important series, but because we want it to be highly interactive and discussion oriented, we’ve decided to postpone it until those things can be more effective.
We are also excited about the Sunday School plans the Children’s Education Committee has made. They have worked really hard over the past month to put a good plan in place. It involves allowing children, accompanied by a parent, to move from station to station in the Sunday School wing to receive teaching, memorize Scripture and do crafts and activities. We really look forward to doing this program, but it puts pretty high demands on some of our wonderful teachers and will be most effective when a few more children are able to participate.
What are we offering now?
One of the needs that has been expressed during this first month of reopening is for child care during worship. The CE Committee is offering to meet that need through personalized programs for as many as we can accommodate. If you contact the CE Committee (Joanna Rask, or through Iva at the church office) we will discuss your need and try to connect you to a teacher or teachers who will be able to teach and care for your children in a personalized way in one of the classrooms. In other words we’ll be able to do nursery care for some of the smaller kids and individual teaching for those a little bit older. At the same time we’ll be able to keep these groups distant from each other, thus minimizing any potential for sharing of the virus.
On the adult level, the elders want to provide a small program that emphasizes the impact of Scripture. As God promises in Isaiah, “My word that goes out from my mouth shall not return to me empty, but shall accomplish that which I purpose.” On Sunday mornings at 9:45 one of the elders will be reading an extended section of Scripture, maybe even a whole short book, followed by a brief discussion and questions. This will be live in the LIFE room if you want to join in-person, and will also be available by Zoom.
Thanks very much for continuing to be involved in church in whatever way the Lord leads. We look forward to the day when we can all see each other face-to-face, and we pray that God will give you the fruit of your steadfastness, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Bob DeGray, for the elders and the CE Committee