You may not believe this, but it’s been almost six months since the pandemic began, shutting down the world and altering life as we knew it. Since weekend services are happening with regular frequency again and life is a little more normalized, I thought it might be a good time for me to explain how we will continue to address the crisis and approach the decision-making process at ccdelco.
A large congregation church and a school are two of the most difficult institutions to navigate through a pandemic; this is definitely a new lane for me, and as every leader will attest, there is no blueprint of how to deal with it. Even though we could not meet in person, we were able to keep our community together via livestream, Zoom, and other social media platforms. It hasn’t been easy, but the Lord has blessed us and we are thankful for where we are as the fall season is upon us. With services happening every weekend and people gathering in small communities again, I wanted to discuss the criteria we use for decision making.
Government Regulations: As a church we are deemed an “essential” organization, meaning we were allowed to function during the entire pandemic. For three months we did not hold in-person services, abiding by stipulations to flatten the curve of infection. We only began meeting again when Delaware County entered the green phase of the Pennsylvania restart plan. As far as school is concerned, Pennsylvania public, private and parochial schools have the discretion to open for in-person learning this fall. As a private school, Innovate Academy will open our doors in a few weeks along with most private and catholic schools. We are adhering to all state guidelines.
Science: This one is tricky. There is no one reading this email who has not read conflicting or controversial information about how this virus may or may not spread. We have tried to stay away from partisan information and rely on things of which we can be certain, such as washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks when appropriate, deep cleaning, and limiting crowd size. Having done outdoor services for the past 15 years has really helped us navigate the summer well and we have seen tremendous ministry happen. We will continue with outdoor services through September 27th, weather permitting.
The Necessity of Ministry: This is often an overlooked factor, but one that is critical in our decision-making process. While the pandemic has created the opportunity for families to spend more time together and has slowed life down a bit, there have been huge downsides for many in our church community. Congregants who live alone have called to share feelings of fear and isolation. In addition, parents are telling us that their kids are acting out because of too much time spent on computer screens, and both single parents and two-parent working families are struggling to juggle life’s demands. These concerns have been factors in several of our decisions, such as hosting Job’s Blues Shack (a truncated Summer VBS), and the decision to move forward with our traditional fall weekend retreat for youth in late September.
Common Sense: We realize that the greater community has made the decision to cancel many activities, events, leagues, programs, and much more. While some of this is driven by safety concerns, there are other factors, such as fear of litigation, that do not drive us. We have the freedom to look at all ministry decisions with clarity, relying on the above criteria and depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Livestream: Finally, our online presence allows for congregants who are at higher risk of the virus or who still feel uncomfortable attending in-person services to still feel a part of our community. We continue to put tremendous effort and financial resources into making this option more interactive and of a higher standard.
As I stated previously, this is all new to our leadership team at ccdelco. We fervently ask that everyone abide in a spirit of love and adhere to proper hygiene while attending Calvary and to refrain from attending services if you are experiencing symptoms. We are all in this together and it is our desire to see people served, delivered and restored by God’s grace.
[ Written September 1, 2020]
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