Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A question on everyone’s mind lately is, “When will Timothy resume in-person worship?” While we appreciate the hard work and dedication of numerous volunteers and staff to shift our services to an online format, we long for the chance to gather in worship together.
This question has weighed heavily on Timothy’s leaders for the past few weeks, especially as restrictions on in-person gatherings have relaxed. We want to strike a balance between our members’ desire to be together with the need to do so safely. We also want to resume public worship with as little change or disruption as possible so that, when we come together, our worship experience is as similar as possible before the pandemic.
After much deliberation and after studying suggestions from the Missouri District and guidelines from federal, state, and local governments, Timothy’s leaders plan to resume in-person worship on July 11 & 12, hoping that Jackson County will be in Phase 3 of its recovery plan by then.
There will still be changes to the worship services and times. Going forward, only three in-person worship services will occur each weekend: Saturday at 6pm at RD Mize, Sunday at 9am at RD Mize, and Sunday at 10am at Wyatt. This will allow adequate time to clean the worship spaces after each service. The 10am service at Wyatt will also live stream via Facebook and YouTube.
During these worship services, face masks will be encouraged but not required, and physical distancing between family groups will be encouraged as well. Offering plates will be stationed at the room exits.
Holy Communion will resume in August once the logistics of worship are in place.
Finally, it is important to note that these plans are dependent upon the assumption that Jackson County will enter Phase 3 of its recovery plan in July. If the county delays that transition, Timothy will delay the return to in-person worship as well. In addition, if another stay-at-home order is issued, Timothy’s services will immediately transition back to online worship for the duration.
This has been a difficult time, and we appreciate your patience and prayers. Please bear with us as we work to transition to a new normal of touching lives for Christ.
Under the mercy,
What a bizarre time we live in!
When all of this started, we were hopeful that our time of physical distancing would be over by now. Or, if not, then we would be in the process of working toward reopening our buildings and planning on a happy reunion. But now, we are facing several more weeks of this “stay-at-home” time and, unfortunately, we are not entirely sure when we will be able to return back to normal, whatever that may turn out to be. But, even in this time of uncertainty, there are some things we want to share with you.
First of all, I want to thank all of your for your patience and understanding. I’ve shared this before, but this is not a situation they covered at the seminary. How to lead a congregation through a pandemic and the resultant stay-at-home orders is new territory for all of us. We have had some stumbles along the way and we’ve had to reevaluate some of what we were doing. But I truly do appreciate the way that all of you have continued to support Timothy through all of this.
Second, I want to thank the many volunteers who have stepped up to help with our online worship services. We shared their names in a previous eNote. We wouldn’t be able to continue to share the Good News during this time as effectively as we have without their help.
Third, I want to talk about Holy Communion. This has been one of the hardest parts of this time of separation. I think we are all hungering for the grace that we find in the Sacrament. And I know that there may be questions about why we aren’t doing this or that or some other thing like other congregations do (whether those congregations share our Lutheran understanding of communion or not). But while we may want to take communion together, we also want to be good neighbors. We remember what Jesus shared in Matthew 25, namely, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” [Matthew 25:40] We stay at home during this time and we are limiting our contact with each other as an act of service to our brothers and sisters and, in doing so, we are serving our Lord.
But here’s the thing we should also remember: while we may not be able to join together in Holy Communion, that is not the only Means of Grace that we have access to. We are still the baptized children of God and we can daily remember how God named and claimed us in those blessed waters. We are still able to be fed by and through God’s Word, either when we gather together virtually in worship or with our family in personal devotions.
We are not cut off from God’s grace during this time. Yes, we miss communion. We miss the opportunity to see each other face-to-face in our weekly worship services and in person Bible studies. But God is still with us. He continues to lavish His love and grace upon us. And His grace won’t fail us, even now. We are still His forgiven children and no pandemic or physical separation can change that.
As of now, we’re not entirely sure how or when this will end. We are monitoring the situation and having discussions about what our return to in-person worship and gatherings will look like. We continue to ask for your patience and prayers as we work together to continue to touch lives for Christ in such extremely unusual times!
Under the Mercy,