As summer ends and fall nears, we face the important question of whether to return to the practice of separate worship times with different worship styles, or whether to combine both services into one, merging worship styles as we have done over the last year and one-half.
A New Worship Service
In the ten months we worshiped online, we merged 8:00 and 10:30 worship traditions. What has emerged is a new worship service that honors the past and celebrates the present. This new worship service was our way of responding in faith to a difficult time, when we could not safely congregate physically, the Spirit shaping our worshipping community in new ways.
Strength in Unity
We all know that we are emerging from a very divisive time. The decisions we faced as a congregation have left some members feeling left out and overlooked. Dislocation has served to amplify hard feelings in some, while others are gladly open to new challenges.
Worshipping as one makes us stronger. It broadens involvement, nurtures spiritual growth, and unites us in ways that will give us strength and vision to minister in Christ’s name in the world. Now more than ever, we need to worship together, to sing and to pray, to celebrate Holy Communion, to baptize children, and to enjoy children’s times as one congregation. It is time for healing, time for growth.
We can all be encouraged by our Serving in Worship program, yet we have more work to do, broadening involvement, especially in support of our new on-line worship ministry. To return to the pre-pandemic practice of two worship services would stretch our resources thin, so that one worship time and style would become primary and the other secondary. Additionally, during the interim between pastors, the congregation changed from a two-pastor model to a sole pastor model. This change puts new demands on the resources we have to celebrate funerals and weddings and visit elder members.
When we return this fall, I recommend we continue to combine both worship styles, worshipping together in one worship service. I make this recommendation believing that combining our worship services will promote healing and growth in our congregation and ensure we emerge from this pandemic stronger and more united.
I will consult with the Council when it meets on August 11th, and will update you on this conversation. I am glad for any feedback you have to offer. I may be reached by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (608-354-8145).
In Christ’s Service,
Pr. Craig Jan-McMahon