Dear Park Family and Friends,
I have a vivid memory of one morning last March. I was eating breakfast at Americana Diner with my family and in-laws who were about to leave after a brief visit. The news anchors on the flatscreen TVs were consumed with the rapidly spreading coronavirus. I was consumed with the question of what this would mean for Park.
That upcoming Sunday became our first Park@Home. Despite the adaptability and excellence with which our staff were able to pivot (special shoutout to Matt Agresti), after making the decision to move worship online, I remember thinking to myself, “I hope this doesn’t last more than a month.”
And nearly one year later, here we are.
If at any point over the course of this last year you’ve wondered,
“When is Park reopening for indoor worship again?”
you’re not alone. I have wondered this every day since March 15, 2020.
With this question in mind, I want to share that the next step in Park’s journey toward “reopening” will be a transition to outdoor services like we did last summer. We are aiming for March 28 (Palm Sunday) to be our first outdoor gathering of the year, weather-pending of course.
When I think back to last year, Park’s outdoor worship gatherings were one of my highlights. I echo what I’ve heard many say: that it was so great just to worship together in person again, and there was something refreshing about being outside as well. Personally, I cannot wait to start meeting in person, outdoors again – which includes exploring what safe and simplified kids programming might look like outdoors.
My deep hope and desire is that we will be able to transition back to indoor worship gatherings sometime before fall, though we do not yet have a date. We are beginning to assemble a reopen team, and parents and Park Kids volunteers will be receiving a survey later this week to gauge comfort levels.
Why Not Reopen Now?
It’s worth taking a moment to ask the question, “Why hasn’t Park reopened for indoor worship gatherings?” This is a good question and certainly there are arguments for reopening now: other churches are doing it; schools have reopened; we shouldn’t be driven by fear; not meeting regularly in person breeds disconnection and instability.
All of these arguments are fair and have been the fodder of many conversations I’ve had with other leaders in Park and in prayer with God.
But here’s the thing …
What other churches are doing is important, but it’s not our driver. I’ve heard too many stories lately of local churches reopening, only to close back down due to an outbreak.
When it comes to schools, as a parent of a kindergartner and a preschooler, I’m filled with gratitude for our teachers and administrators who are working so hard for our kids. And yet, seeing the struggle of the schools has actually made me more cautious about being too quick to reopen Park for indoor worship.
Should we be driven by fear? No. But what about wisdom? Given COVID numbers, the high number of families with kids in Park, and space limitations, wisdom still leads us to practice patience when it comes to moving indoors.
Yes, not gathering in person breeds disconnection. This is why I’m so grateful for our Community Group leaders and Connections team who are all working hard to keep us connected during this time. It’s also why I’m excited for outdoor worship to resume.
While we are prayerful and hopeful as more and more people get the vaccine, we are continuing to take COVID seriously. The fact that we are a church with many families with young kids puts an extra layer of logistical labor on the idea of reopening, if we are to do it in a way that is safe and thoughtful. Simply put, as Jesus-followers, we believe not hosting indoor worship gatherings continues to be a way we can love our neighbors and one another at this time.
Thank you for your patience. I am so grateful to everyone who continues to serve and help during this time. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.
Grace and Peace,