Rhythms! Fall brings its own kind of rhythms to our lives as we all rediscover the “back to’s” that we have come to know, like back to school and back to regular life after summer time vacations. But this fall will be different from last as we all find the new normal and new rhythms in this new way of being.
So here’s what’s new at Shepherd as we all make our way in this new way of being church:
Our building: As we seek to find our new rhythm of fall gatherings, school sessions and general programming we are recognizing how our space (and the amount of it) is a blessing for our community as the weather shifts and we begin to gather indoors for our meetings. We are in continual conversations about how we can move people around in safe ways, what measures we need to take to create the safest environment for everyone concerned and what method of meeting actually meets the needs of our people. We will be using spaces for gatherings that we haven’t before, like the sanctuary and the narthex. We remain grateful for the space to work with and a staff that works extra hard to make this all work for our community.
Our worship: We have (finally) figured out the internet connectivity issues regarding live streaming our
Sunday service and with that improvement our parking lot worship model seems to still be going very well.
We seem to be truly enjoying the chance to worship together and do it safely outside. Our most recent survey
results revealed that while we are making progress towards our comfortability of worshiping in our sanctuary
(a 20% move towards a greater sense of comfortability of worshiping inside together) we remain far from the majority of us actually being comfortable with gathering inside in larger groups. So…. we are planning on
remaining outside until the end of October, and hopefully longer depending upon the inevitable arrival of
winter. We have also tested our outdoor sound equipment in the sanctuary and the broadcast sound was very good, meaning if we decide to live stream from inside the sanctuary due to inclement weather we have
figured out how to get that (good quality) sound to our online listening congregation. Yay!!
Our (other) gatherings: We will continue our Wednesday Island Lake Park 1:00 Bible study gatherings (as long as we are able) and our Wed Zoom 6:30 Bible study gatherings. We are talking about how to move our outside gatherings inside once the weather makes it hard to be outside. Our book study on racism has been going very well. We will be offering another study with a different book (on racism) this fall. Coffee & Donuts in the parking lot and on the lawn has been going well. We have begun reconvening some of our other focus groups (Welcoming Team, Renewal Team, Joy Team) as we figure out how to continue to do ministry in these focus areas during a pandemic.
As we have been saying all along, the church is not closed and never has been. We have been worshiping, doing Bible study, teaching our youth and our preschoolers, doing pastoral care, conducting church business and
connecting through virtual gatherings in all sorts of different ways since this pandemic came to visit in March. And we will do all of those things in-person again…when we are ready. In the meantime we will explore new ways where we can be together and all feel safe and comfortable doing so.
In God’s Peace, Your Shepherd Staff Pr. Renee, Jilene, Pr. Brice, Joe, Sr. Tashina, Miranda and Michelle