Dear Good Shepherd,
As you know the seasons are beginning to turn and with that will come colder weather. My weather app tells me that the high on Sunday will only be 57 degrees. That will make things at the very least uncomfortable for those among us worshiping in the tent. For that reason, we plan to move the mask-optional service downstairs into the parish hall beginning this Sunday at 10:30am.
My original plan was to start a third mask-optional service later in the afternoon. But several people mentioned how much they like being able to greet people from the other location (ie.tent and building) after the service and also that starting a third service risked increasing the separation we all feel. So I think it is better to choose to be as close together as we possibly can.
Before going on, I want to reiterate what I have said before. I am not a medical expert. I know that some of you have grave doubts about whether Covid19 is really all it has been chalked up to be. And I know that some of you do not share those doubts. I am not going to tell you where I stand (to be honest I don’t know from one day to the next) because I love you all and because I’ve seen Christians tearing each other up on social media over this and that is the very last thing I want for Good Shepherd. Neither belief is a sin or a violation of biblical teaching, so the Christian is free to think as he or she likes so long as we do so in love and commit to bearing with and having patience with one another, especially when we disagree.
Our goal throughout this entire lockdown has been to do as much as we possibly can to keep the body together and enable as many people who wish to worship in person to do so safely. That, and to produce a quality livestream so that those who feel they cannot come will not feel left out and be able to participate as much as possible in worship.
Keeping these goals in mind we’ve put together a plan for the two worship spaces (downstairs and upstairs) that we believe will accommodate everyone who is presently attending.
Beginning this Sunday, the parish hall (downstairs) will be open for mask-optional worship at 10:30am. If you choose to attend worship downstairs, please use the parking-lot entrance to enter and exit after the service.
If you choose to worship upstairs, we ask that you wear a mask and enter and exit through the Saratoga doors.
Upstairs worshipers, please use the restrooms in either the sacristy or the crying room near the entrance.
If you worship downstairs please use the downstairs restrooms.
If you wish to go from one service to the other, please do so by going out of the assigned exit, walking outside to the entrance for the other service, masking if necessary (depending on the service you are entering).
We believe these guidelines will accommodate everyone’s concerns and make it possible to maintain worship as we have been doing throughout the lockdown. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any concerns about the plan.
1. Some have expressed concern about air mingling between upstairs and downstairs through our heating system. Our heat works by radiation. We do not have forced hot air. So it is virtually impossible for that to happen. Since we are using two designated stairwells it is also highly unlikely that germs could be carried from one service to the other.
2. The downstairs will be cleaned after Christian education and the tables will be moved to maintain social distance (as per NYS guidelines)
I understand that some may think these measures are unnecessarily burdensome. Others may think they do not go far enough. I am sorry and acknowledge that we are probably making mistakes on one side or the other but they are not intentional. I am looking forward to the day and praying for its speedy arrival when all of this will be over and we can worship in one room again.