By John Durbin, COTP Moderator
The team helping us navigate the road to as much normalcy as possible as the pandemic subsides met May 23 after Sunday worship. Here is what they are requesting:
- This is not a time to be complacent. Remain cautious in your interactions with people whose vaccination status is unknown.
- If you are not vaccinated, please consider doing so. Contact Judy Jondahl, Steve Meoli or Bobbie Chapman for assistance if needed.
- Worship service in the sanctuary:
- You no longer need to preregister your attendance for Sunday service.
- Continue to wear your mask.
- Follow the directions of the ushers. The entrance and exit patterns have been slightly changed.
- No more need to take temperatures.
- Hand washing stations are now optional.
- Responsive readings can be done. But please speak very softly.
- No congregational singing yet. But that day is coming!
- Follow the directions of the ushers. After service, please do not linger in the narthex.
- Please no handshakes or hugs. But that day is coming!
- There will be no fellowship hour in King Hall for the immediate future. But that day is coming!
- Remember to follow the directions of the ushers!
As a church family we have done well throughout this unprecedented time in our lives. Thank you for your faithfulness, thoughtfulness, and patience. We are a stronger church now than we were seventeen months ago.
It was so wonderful to be with you last Sunday. To be able to look into each other’s eyes, feel the energy, laugh, pray — words are poor tools in which to express the emotions of it all.
Thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes to make things go smoothly — the safety team, ushers, Worship and Fine Arts Board, deacons, Mod Squad, digital technical committee, music people, Evangelism Board, the church staff, and so many, many more.
Thank you, also, for the patience you demonstrated. To help us on the logistics, please call our dedicated line: 623-748-3574 and register your attendance. Or go to the website and register. It is out of abundant caution we are following a strict protocol. We are learning as we go and I am glad that we journey together.
The proverbial icing on the cake for me was Shea Darian’s Ecclesiastical Council (E.C.) Sunday afternoon. All who attended witnessed her pastoral heart, the ability to think deeply, and articulate complex emotions in a clear and concise manner. Wow! She is gifted with the holy spirit! Now that Shea has passed her E.C., and once she finds a ministry position, she can be ordained. We look forward to that glorious day in her life and in the life of the church.
What is the church going to look like when we emerge from the tomb of quarantine? Jesus’ appearance had changed; will ours? The person, the church who emerges from quarantine doesn’t have to be the same old person or institution. And what better time for transformation than now, when we have this new opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the church! Let’s bring our best selves, our best imitation of Jesus and literally be The Palms of Jesus.
Changing a trait requires acting in ways that embody that trait, rather than simply thinking about it or expecting it to magically appear. Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, described it in “The As If Principle.” His thinking — you can behave “as if” you are the person you want to be. Pretty soon, you might find that it is you.
The church before the pandemic was seeing that some changes needed to be made to our organizational structure. Our constitution and bylaws had served the church well, but now it was time to look in new directions and build a structure that was more flexible and met the needs of the church today. Then the pandemic hit. That gave us the opportunity to think and pray and read and pray and work and pray.
Emerging from that is a proposed new constitution and bylaws that are simpler and designed to meet our ministry opportunities now and in future years. Adjusting our sails is a daily thing for us humans, and that is especially true when we assemble together.
My Easter sermon to you said, “Because we are a resurrection people, quarantine didn’t break your church! It taught us to lose our fear and go up on the roof (hear solar panels) and out into the streets (hear shower trailer ministry). When other churches struggled, we did not. The reason? It was not Pastor Jim or me. It wasn’t our Mod Squad or any other group. It was all of us working with God’s spirit to dream and do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach is a best-selling author who wrote, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
I’ve been waiting for this Sunday for a long, long time. I confess I have a mixed bag of emotions surrounding it: excitement, anxiety, hope, fear, joy, worry, and gratitude all blended together. Maybe you are in a similar situation. In any case, this Sunday is the day! And together we will support one another with all of our ranges of emotions.
To help us on the logistics, please call our dedicated line: 623-748-3574 and register your attendance or register online here. Outside, we could set up as many chairs as we needed; inside, we need to go under different rules. Yes, we are being abundantly cautious. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping everyone safe. Remember: masks, temperatures, sanitizer, no hugging.
To help us navigate this Sunday, I’ve made a video on what you might experience on May 2 as you arrive — consider it a “how to return to in-person worship” video. It is at the end of this email. Look for it on the website and Facebook as well.
This Sunday is also the first time the congregation will be able to hear the new organ live and in person! We are certainly grateful to everyone who gave to bring that new organ to us. The Palms will have organ music for another generation!
Also on May 2, at 3 p.m., we’re hosting Shea Darian’s Ecclesiastical Council along with the Southwest Conference. This will be online and is available by clicking here to register. Come and support Shea!
I have literally been waiting for this moment for a year! It broke my heart to have to go from in-person worship to video; I know you join me in missing our in-person gatherings. I truly believe that I will never, ever, take for granted the blessing of being able to gather in our sanctuary! The good news is that we are almost at the end of our extended stay of being locked in the tomb. The stone is rolling away this Easter!
I am so excited to be able to gather for in-person worship on Easter Sunday. We will gather for worship outside on the patio by the fountain for a 9 a.m. worship, which will be less than 45 minutes in length.
We’ll gather, but we still do need to observe some protocols. Mask up. Please refrain from hugging, etc. The church is also a “No Judgment Zone.” That is, we respect the decisions that individuals will be making for their own safety. Some may, for example, need to stay home for a while longer. We want people to make up their own minds on what best fits their health and safety needs – and then feel good about that decision. Whenever you make it back, I hope you can rejoice with me!
Check out these other Holy Week Worship Opportunities:
- Maundy Thursday, April 1 on our Bridges platform on the webpage. Our sister congregations of Desert Garden UCC, Sun City Christian DOC, and United Church UCC will be joining us. It will be available starting at noon and be up for your watching anytime on Thursday.
- Good Friday, April 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Labyrinth Walk. Outside at our labyrinths. Easter Sunday, April 4 at 9 a.m. In-person worship at the fountain patio. Call by April 1st for reservations at 623.748.3574. or click on this link.
- What will the Sundays after Easter look like? I don’t know exactly. But I am glad to be journeying with you. See you soon!