Worship Plans at SCAPC During the Coronavirus
August 2020 Update:
On Tuesday, August 11, the Session unanimously agreed to continue the suspension of on-site worship and programming pending the initiation of Phase 3 by both State and New Orleans governments. At that time, we will determine the date and the safest way for us to congregate as a physical body in compliance with all state and local requirements.
Until we are able to reopen, the staff will continue to provide care remotely, including online worship and spiritual formation. We are exploring ways to enrich and increase our online presence, provide for new online resources for worship, education, and fellowship, and study ways in which small groups might safely gather.
Michael Jinkins, Interim Senior Pastor
Shannon Holtzman, Clerk of Session
June 2020 Update:
On Monday, June 1, the session of our church unanimously approved the following proposal regarding the conducting of public worship during the summer of 2020.
That we should extend the season of solely online worship through the summer with the understanding that we will begin in-person worship services again on Sunday 23 August 2020 if the conditions allow. Until then we shall provide the level of worship which we have provided since the beginning of the pandemic.
The proposal was brought to the session by a task force consisting of the following members of the church staff: Michael Jinkins, Sarah Chancellor-Watson, Steven Blackmon, Michele Murphy, Chris Hazlaris, Evelyn Audler, Hallie Boh, Pierce Young, Bonnie Shoemaker, and Joe Bean.
For the past several weeks the task force has been gathering information from a variety of resources, including feedback from neighboring congregations, regarding best practices and best judgments on a phased reopening. The task force discussed the information gathered and came to a consensus based on shared assumptions:
- The safety of our members and others who attend worship remains the primary concern.
- The inclusion of all who wish to attend worship is essential.
- Our Reformed tradition provides sound theological guidance and latitude in insuring worship that supports both of these benchmark assumptions.
While we recognize the fundamental value of and preference for in-person fellowship and community for a worshiping congregation, especially for a church like ours, the life of which is grounded in communion, the worship in which we are presently engaged online is providing for joyful adoration, praise and thanksgiving of the triune God, the faithful hearing and proclamation of the Word of God and the responsible administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. We look forward with great anticipation to the day when we can gather again in our sanctuary to worship God together. And we commit ourselves to providing a rich, meaningful and faithful service of worship in whatever form it may take.
Additional notes from the task force.
We do not propose that there be any activities other than staff-related work on the church premises through the summer.
Staff will be permitted to continue to come to their offices to pick-up materials and resources for their work, but otherwise will work remotely. A staff member will be in the building, as now, to receive mail and other deliveries, and our maintenance staff will continue to check on the building and do routine maintenance. The church staff will be allowed to begin meeting onsite for the once weekly staff meeting, beginning in June under CDC guidelines.
The conduct of the Christian education program of our church will be addressed by the Director of Christian Education and the Director of Youth and Young Adults and the sessional committee with which they serve.
The various study, spirituality and fellowship groups of the congregation are instructed to conduct their activities in accordance with the guidelines of the CDC.
The task force will reconvene over the summer to receive and act on a report from our facility coordinator on guidelines for our commencement of in-person worship beginning in August.
Anticipating that worship will begin again in late August, the staff will begin now to work with families wishing to baptize their children to schedule baptisms as soon as in-person worship begins. If it is the judgement of the session that in-person worship cannot safely begin again on the anticipated August date, alternative plans will be made for baptisms in a worship context.
After in-person worship recommences, the church will continue to provide online worship for those who wish to continue to remain at home.
Interim Senior Pastor and Moderator of the Session