I was stunned to see that some Roman Catholic parishes in Colorado are opening for in-person worship…though with masks, social distancing, no communion, no one over 65. When I read about the Catholic parishes, I couldn’t help thinking about the Evangelical-Reformed Cathedral in Berlin, where 59 of 78 choir members were stricken with the coronavirus…or the United Church of Canada congregation in Calgary that gathered for a birthday party in March; 24 of 41 people were infected with coronavirus, and two died. Their minister said, “I would do anything for a do-over.”
Later this week, your ministers and program staff will start a discussion about what (not when) it might look like eventually to reopen. And it will be different from what we knew before, and various groups will have different types of gradual re-opening. It will be done with the utmost care…I don’t want to need a do-over. Please continue to be wise and safe!
The Leadership Council is in the process of forming a strategic planning team, something we had on the docket for 2020 anyway, but our planning this fall will be in a very different context for a church than it would have been without the pandemic. We will be consulting with John Wimberly of Congregational Consulting Group (alumni of the late Alban Institute), and we will really consider the future of the church in a new reality. It may seem crazy, but I am really excited about the possibilities of who Plymouth can become! One learning for most of us is that the church is the gathered body of members, not our building at 916 Prospect Road. We are still the church! We are still people at worship, in service, doing ministry together.
We won’t waste the opportunity of a crisis to make something beautiful happen with God and with each other!
P.S. If you haven’t seen this pandemic-related story, please watch it and wonder…
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.