Worship is at the heart of our activity as a congregation…“It is our mission to worship God and to make God’s realm visible…” The problem during a pandemic is that worshiping remotely is vexing, even with the best technology available, because we are dependent upon the not-so-tender mercies of the internet and beta software. You’ve probably been part of a service when something technological has gone awry. I’ll spare you the litany of all that we’ve tried, but as recently as last Wednesday, we had craziness with our livestreaming camera immediately before the service. I’m grateful to Dean Wallace 😇 for all of the audio engineering and Jim Medlock 😇 and his videography team who have supported worship through all of these months. And I appreciate your patience as we non-broadcasters have attempted new ways to connect you with God and with one another.
And we’re still trying new approaches after consulting with the Board of Deacons! Beginning February 7, we will be launching a recorded video on Vimeo at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Why the shift? The short answer is that recording allows us to regroup if technology fails us, and it provides a more put-together experience. There are some big positives, too:
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, and we’ll be hosting a Zoom-based service that evening, allowing you to see other worshipers. That will be the last Wednesday evening service for the time being. Midweek Vespers has had a dedicated, small following, and while the ministers and staff enjoy producing it, the appeal has been limited in our congregation. So, we’re trying something new: returning to our 6:00 p.m. service via Zoom on the first Sunday of Lent, February 21. There are some benefits here, too:
As we look toward warmer temperatures (not in February!) and the rates of Covid cases in the community, the Deacons, ministers, and staff will continue to consider additional possibilities like parking-lot services, brief outdoor communion, and outdoor worship. Balancing physical safety and intimate connection is a tough act, especially when some of us are receiving vaccine and some of us aren’t yet eligible, and young folks may not be until summer. I know you want to come back and see friends and worship in person…I do, too! But we won’t do that until it’s safe. Even then, it will be different. Coffee hour with large clusters of people, singing, communion in the sanctuary, kids and young families…we’re still likely to miss all these aspects of our communal life. I am grateful for your prayers for us in this tricky time and for your patience with the process.
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.