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Outdoor Worship Coming to TLUMC
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crosses at church 300x225 Sunday Morning Drive-In Worship – 9:00am (Beginning June 21) 

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As Colorado has been easing some restrictions on gatherings, we received guidance this week from our Governor on how churches can begin meeting again. When the pandemic lockdown started, I had hoped that we’d all be able to come back on one big Sunday where we’d fill our sanctuary with people for three services followed by a massive potluck party together. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now, but it is something we will definitely hold out for in the (hopefully) near future!

 

The guidelines we have received from the state, from the county, and from the Mountain Sky Annual Conference are still pretty restrictive in terms of doing anything in our building that resembles worship as we know it. We would be limited to 50% capacity or 50 people (whichever is less), people age 65 and older and those with health issues would be told to stay home, everyone would be masked, there would be no singing or spoken responses, every surface and the bathrooms would need to be thoroughly sanitized between services, etc. In consultation with our staff and Church Council, we believe this is too restrictive and too labor intensive for us to accomplish. It also doesn’t give us the sense of being together in worship.

 

While there are still restrictions, worshipping outdoors provides us a lot more of an opportunity to worship together as a body, since the coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily in the open air and sunshine. So, as we anticipate easing back into corporate worship (while maintaining our online worship), we’re going to do some experimenting over the next few weeks. Our Board of Trustees, led by Scott McCreedy, has done a tremendous job in making outdoor worship possible by running power and an internet line to the crosses on the hill above the parking lot. Our Art Committee, led by jeri-Gene Bauman, is putting in a stone altar table on the site as well. These improvements, coupled with summer weather, give us the chance to try some new things outside the building and to get together in a meaningful way. Here’s what we’re thinking:

  • Sunday Morning Drive-In Worship – 9:00am (Beginning June 21) – We’ll begin our Sunday worship with one service at 9:00am, which gives us a chance to experiment with our set up and to worship outdoors before the temperature gets too hot. We’ll park cars in every other parking space, leaving 8 1/2 feet of social distancing space between families. Families can either stay in their cars or bring lawn chairs and “tailgate” in their parking space while worshipping. Worship will be broadcast from the crosses using an FM transmitter, so all you need to do is tune your car radio to the appropriate station. The service will feature a blend of music, though less music than we normally sing in worship (at least for now). Communion will be served using pre-packaged communion elements. Bulletins will be available on our church app or can be downloaded prior to coming to worship (Click here to access the online bulletin). No paper bulletins will be distributed. If we have overflow attendance, tailgating can also take place in the gravel lot. If we have an overwhelming response to these services, we will add additional services in future Sundays as needed. 
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

 

These services will take place weather permitting. If weather becomes a factor, we will switch to an online service only. Check the church web site, your email, or text before driving out to the church. If you are not yet on our email or text distribution list, contact the church office ().

 

Each of these services will have some rules we’ll all need to follow, however, in order to maintain them throughout the summer. These rules are set by the state, county, and our Annual Conference and we intend to comply with them in order to keep our people as safe as possible. If we cannot maintain these rules, we will be forced to shut down our outdoor services and go back to online worship only. These rules are as follows:

  • We continue to strongly encourage those age 65+, those with compromised health, and those feeling ill to stay at home and continue worshipping with us online. We will broadcast our Sunday morning outdoor service live at 9:00am and repeat the broadcast at 11:00am on all of our streaming platforms.
  • Families or individuals will pre-register to reserve a parking space for worship. This not only gives us a sense of how many spaces we will have filled, but also provides us attendance data for contact tracing should it be necessary (very similar to signing in to the attendance book each Sunday). Watch for more information about signing up for your spot.
  • Worshippers will be required to wear a mask if outside their vehicles. Worship leaders may go unmasked for singing and speaking, but will wear masks before and after doing so.
  • Social distancing of 6-8 feet must be maintained between family units. There will be no hand-shaking, hugging, or personal greeting at this time. You will, however, be able to see people and speak with them from an appropriate social distance.
  • Bathrooms inside the church will be available on an emergency basis only and will be limited to one person at a time (or a parent and child). No other activities will take place inside the church building.
  • Other rules may apply as we receive additional guidance from the state, county, and Annual Conference.

Again, this isn’t exactly all that we had hoped for in returning to worship, but it is a step in the right direction. We’re hopeful that as the summer goes on some of these restrictions may be eased. We also recognize that we’ll have some growing pains with putting worship together in this way and we ask for your patience and cooperation. We know that there are a lot of different opinions out there about the virus, about mask-wearing, etc. but we’re asking all of our church members to comply with these rules as a way of “watching over one another in love” as John Wesley put it.

 

We’ll have more details as we get closer to June 21, and our Wednesday night prayer service will help us develop some additional protocols as well. Please pray for the TLUMC staff and lay leadership as we work out the best way for us to worship together during these unusual times.

 

I’m excited about beginning worship outdoors as it is a very Methodist thing to do. The Methodist movement took off when John Wesley took to the fields to preach the gospel in 18th century England. I believe our experience of field preaching and worship (as well as maintaining our online platform) will be a step toward recapturing that dynamic, Spirit-filled movement. Let’s get ready to worship!



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