Trinity’s Healthy Church Team (the group mandated by the Conference to review and implement the Annual Conference COVID Response policies) met again on September 23. Our goal is to provide as many opportunities to be the church as possible while adhering to our values of doing no harm. We want to open, but in ways that protect the congregation as well as the community. Pandemic fatigue is a reality we are all experiencing. Nevertheless, our faith as a church is stronger and we will be steadfast and faithful as long as necessary. We hear Medical experts tell us to prepare for a difficult fall and winter with a slow opening once a vaccine becomes widely available. Here is an update on what is (and is not) happening at Trinity.
Sunday School classes and small groups are meeting! Some meet virtually, but a number are meeting both in-person and virtually. Some are meeting at the church, others are meeting in member’s yards. Groups are using great creativity in their planning. Any group meeting that desires to meet at the church can simply contact the church office and/or Bill Pike.
Kid Ministries is going full steam! Jen Williams is providing Kids Church Online videos for parents each week, and Jen has a Zoom call with the kids each week. Jen has submitted several ideas for in-person (with social distancing) Kids and Family events and has the blessing of the HCT to proceed. Stay tuned, you should be hearing about this in the weeks ahead.
Student Ministry in person groups are projected to begin in the first full week of October.
Worship continues via livestream. The feedback we have received from the congregation continues to be overwhelmingly positive. Communion has resumed, with over 100 who communed on September 13. About a dozen members of the Faithworks class were meeting on the church grounds. As an experiment, and abiding by the conference protocols, they were invited to attend. Baptisms are taking place as well on church grounds.
Our higher priority is not undermining the quality of livestream worship, the primary means of reaching most of our church family. We are exploring outdoor worship events. The greatest obstacles to a quality in-person worship is the prohibition of live singing and the requirement of mask wearing even for the preacher. Anecdotal feedback from other churches indicate that these restrictions are significant and that attendance at such services tend to be low. Nevertheless, this continues to be a dynamic set of circumstances that we monitor and we are open to change.
Our Preschool is open with restrictions and under the guidelines of VDSS.
Community outreach continues unabated with collections of food, school supplies and shoes. Our members continue to work with mission partners (with social distancing, of course) and we continue to financially support partners such as Friends of Barnabas, UMFS, the Mattaponi Health Clinic, and Blood Drives. Our 12 Step Groups are meeting.
Things are not where we’d hoped they would be. In many ways we are all frustrated, and yet, the church is strong. Trinity offers opportunities almost every day of the week. We will reopen. When we do, we want to be found faithful for the measures we took and did not take in this extraordinary time.
Trinity’s Healthy Church Team
Alice Hirata, M.D.
Hung Su Lim