Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic the leaders of St. John's have been guided by two principles as we have made decisions about how to carry out our mission statement - experiencing and sharing the love of Jesus Christ. First, as God's children we seek to love God and do what He commands. Second, we seek to love our neighbors. So we continuously seek to understand how we can provide worship services while keeping both our members and our neighbors safe.
Initially, we closed our building and offered worship services in a virtual worship space only. We did that before it was required and we continued to do that even after the state allowed in person gatherings. We opened for an in-person service when we believed we could keep those in attendance safe but we continued to offer our virtual service for those who preferred to stay home. We continued to work towards providing a worship experience for both the in-person community and the virtual community that was safe and excellent. To that end we delayed reintroducing a second in-person service so that we could serve the virtual community well.
We do many things to make the in-person service as safe as possible.
As of September 27th we will be resuming in-person worship services at both 8 am and 10:30 am. I rejoice that we have been able to successfully integrate both the audio and video equipment from our sanctuary into our virtual worship service. This means that we will be able to serve both the in-person community and the virtual community well at the same time. Our 10:30 service will be available to both people in the building and people in the virtual worship space.
Those who have been participating virtually should only notice a few changes. First, the audio and video quality should be improved! Second, all the readings will be done in the sanctuary so we will not be subject to issues on the internet. Third, the preacher will be in the pulpit rather than addressing a computer screen. I have only identified two negatives. First, the pastor will not be able to interact with people in the virtual worship space like the children during the children's message. Second, the pastor will not be able to see any of the people in the virtual worship community. I expect this to be a better experience for the virtual community because of the improved quality and fewer disruptions. Prayer requests will still be submitted through the chat room which will be managed by a team of volunteers and there will still be an opportunity for fellowship after the service in the virtual space. On communion Sundays we will share the benediction and sing the closing hymn prior to celebrating the Lord's Supper so that those in the virtual space can either share fellowship or leave.
Your help is needed in three areas. Please share with us feedback so that we can continue to improve the worship experience for everyone. Second, please be patient with the team as we're all learning together. Finally, please keep praying for and loving the leaders of your church as they seek to serve the Lord and each of you.