Most of you know that our family lived for 14 years in Wisconsin. The winters there are long, and if you love to fish, at some point you go ice fishing. Of course, I went ice fishing, and even bought the equipment, which I sold in a garage sale before I moved here! People ask me to describe ice fishing, and my best description is to tell them to go into their bathroom on the coldest night of the year, open all the windows and stare into the toilet for 5 hours!
Ok, it’s better than that, but you get the picture. All those years living in Wisconsin I would watch as the lakes began to freeze over, and inch, two inches, three inches. Then about four inches or so, someone would drive their car on the ice to go fishing. Sometimes that didn’t end well. There are hefty fines if your car goes to the bottom of the lake, leaks out all of the oil and gas, and has to be towed. I made a decision years ago that I would never be the first person on the ice in the winter. Or the last to leave in the spring. That may tell you more about me than you need to know! But I am fairly cautious.
As we look at going back to in person worship indoors, I am not going to be the first to open the doors! I have been reading this morning of schools and colleges that opened up and within a week or so had to close down. I am aware of churches that have opened up, a few have had outbreaks and re-closed, but most have simply had very few folks showing up. The issue for me is that the decisions we make are more costly than a car, it can be a life we lose. So yes, I’m being cautious.
Here is what we are thinking about as far as the next few months. We have had a few funerals and weddings, and they seem to have gone well. We can handle a few folks, a hundred or so, depending on what the state mandates are. So maybe by the end of September maybe we can open the doors to our Wednesday night recording of our traditional service. Maybe. After we are no longer able to worship outdoors at our drive-in services, end of October or November, we may have two services indoors, the Cowboy Church and the Crossroads service. They would be limited to 45 minutes, no congregational singing or liturgy, no children’s time or greeting time. The Prairie Campus would resume doing a Facebook service like they did before they started the drive-in service.
None of this is certain, to be sure. We need to pay close attention to the spread of the virus in our area. I would tell folks that have been isolated all these months because they are at risk, coming to church is not the wisest option! I need each of us to know our level of risk and act accordingly.
In the meantime, we have great worship in person at the drive-in services, lots of classes will be starting online, and we are creating as many points of connection as we can for our congregation and wider community. Thank you for your faithfulness, patience, and service. Together, we are going to emerge stronger and ready to face a new time in which we are all leading with faith and hope.
In Christ’s Service,