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I’ve never been one to let the grass grow under my feet, and for me that has been the hardest part of the stay-at-home orders. I cancelled a hiking trip to Utah with my mom and gave up the idea of attending my niece’s graduation. I won’t be going to Baltimore for General Assembly, and the conference I hoped to attend in Spain in September has been postponed. No music festivals or concerts this summer. Staying close to home (and mostly in my home) hasn’t been all bad, but it was starting to feel a bit like Groundhog’s Day. I hate that movie. So this week I moved my Zoom portal to the woods for a change of routine and scenery.

Yes, I needed some rest after a couple of months of climbing the steep learning curve of video editing and scrambling to keep up with an entirely new way of gathering the church. But mostly I needed a joyful disruption from that scramble. I needed to go somewhere farther than the orbit around my apartment, do something different, get a little creative space to envision what’s next, as we begin to think about what it will look like to move toward gathering in person again.

If you’ve noticed you haven’t heard much from MAPC leadership about opening up the church, that’s because we’ve been moving slowly. Much of our membership falls into vulnerable categories. We are committed to gathering in person only when we can do so as safely as possible. We are also committed to maintaining a positive online presence for those who don’t yet feel safe being physically together.

Your committees – primarily Operations and Worship, as well as the Deacons – are reviewing questions that need to be answered before we can open. The Session is overseeing the whole process, using the best research and recommendations from experts to determine when we will gather and, when we do, how we will make sure our greetings, seating, music, communion, offering, and more are done as safely as possible. Since it is not currently advisable for groups of more than 10 to gather, we are taking our time and being thorough. For the rest of May, you can plan on our gatherings taking place online only. The Session will continue to keep you updated as we make plans to move forward.

In the meantime, I hope you will continue to participate in worship and other gatherings online, and pick up the phone or drop an email to each other from time to time. And although not everyone can run off to the woods, I pray you will each find a way to break up the monotony and isolation of this time and do something that brings you a joyful disruption.

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