Our leadership is hard at work and hard at prayer in discerning the vision of our church
I write today to update you on some important things I am working on in my role as Core Team (Church Council) Chair. One is the “Mission It’s Possible” Team (MI Team), and the other is the Re-Opening Team. Both of these initiatives are vital to the church! The church building has been closed since March 14, but our spirit is not closed!
As explained in sermons earlier this year, the MI Team (Ed, Lucia, Lynn, Nesi, Nisi, Suka, Tana, Yvonne and Pastor Sun Hee) is working on discerning a new vision for the church. Think of it as if we are writing a book. Following a District process, we considered:
· Our Congregational Identity: the treasured early chapters with favorite characters we love (we discussed our history, habits and values)
· Our Internal Context (the page we are on now): what is happening to our heroes and heroines (we identified our strengths and weaknesses)
· Our External Context: to inform us of new characters, plot twists and turns that may join our story (we analyzed our neighborhood and how it is changing)
The vision is the next chapters in our book, built on our history and values, considering the strengths we have now, and what is going on around us (now including COVID-19). The vision will provide us focus, so that all teams and groups view everything they do in light of the vision, channeling our efforts and working together so that Hillsdale can make a difference in the world: “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:23). Stay tuned for our recommendations later this summer.
The Re-Opening Team, as recommended by the Conference, is made up of the Pastor, Trustee Chair, SPRC Chair, Lay Leaders and Core Team Chair. This small team is working through the steps we will need to take to Re-Open, using the 20-page document from the Conference as our checklist. The team is developing a plan through the lens of John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God. The plan must be approved by the District Superintendent prior to implementation, and must show that we can address:
· High-risk Populations in our congregation (stay home, save lives)
· Physical Distancing (6 feet distancing, no group gatherings)
· Maximum Group Size (no more than 25% of our capacity, not to exceed 100)
· Leadership Responsibilities (assess, evaluate, communicate)
· Safety Actions (posters, training, masks, safety screening, hygiene supplies, marking off restricted areas and seating, sanitization and cleaning)
· Staff and Volunteers (work from home, stagger times in building)
· Worship (no touching, no hymnals, no singing, no fellowship hour (no food allowed), no separate Sunday School, no handling of microphones or offering plates, use prepackaged communion)
· Ministry Activities and Events (continue to use online methods)
· Building Use (limited to staff, volunteers and programs approved in plan; revise use agreements with new rules, review and approve plans
· Community Connections and Outreach (virtual meetings, use needs to be approved by District Superintendent)
· Essential services (requires DS approval. We are continuing monthly Second Harvest Food distribution outdoors, but have discontinued hosting Home & Hope for the time being)
In addition, we need to follow CDC, State, County and local public health guidelines and regulations, all of which continue to change as more is learned about the pandemic.
This means our Sunday services will be very different, with fewer people coming, no physical contact, no singing, no food or fellowship time, no Sunday School, no handling of shared items, keeping our distance and wearing masks. Other activities (group meetings and programs) will continue to be held virtually even after we begin worshiping together in person again, until we determine we can safely resume more activities. Even with all these efforts, we can’t guarantee that everyone who joins us will be safe. We will keep you informed as our plans come together and we learn more.
Until then, I will see you online!
~ Tana Hutchison, Core Team Chair