Given the rising number of COVID cases and the appearance of the Omicron variant during the holidays, we are adapting our worship services as follows:
We will keep to our current multiplatform worship, with the option to attend from home via our livestream and limited attendance in the sanctuary, following our COVID protocols: pre-registration; be vaccinated; masks required; practice social distancing; stay home if you do not feel well.
At 4:30 pm: we will have an intergenerational outdoor carol singing and candle lighting gathering on the front lawn of the church. Attendance is in person only. Masks recommended as some children are not yet vaccinated.
At 6 pm: we will livestream the “Lessons and Carols” service from the sanctuary for everyone to watch from home. Only worship participants and support volunteers will be in the sanctuary. Attendance is online only.
We will livestream a pre-recorded service for “Pancakes, Stories and Carols.” We invite everyone to join us from home with your pancake (or other breakfast food) of choice! Attendance is online only.
We will assess whether to return to multiplatform worship or to stay online only. Please stay tuned.
We also reviewed the feedback from the survey about our multi-platform worship services. We received 56 responses. The Standing Committee, the COVID Task Force, Rev Ellen, the Worship Tech Team and the Worship Committee wish to thank the congregation for your feedback.
Overall, the feedback was very positive. People expressed appreciation that we are offering multi-platform worship services. There is approximately a 50/ 50 split from the survey respondents attending in the sanctuary vs from home. Some are comfortable attending in the sanctuary and grateful to experience worship there. Others are grateful for the opportunity to attend from home for a couple of different reasons, including concern with COVID and underlying medical conditions, convenience in the face of busy schedules and living far away. A large majority of those attending from home said they would be comfortable coming back to the sanctuary at some point in the future.
All of the respondents who have attended in the sanctuary said they felt safe. A few folks attending from home expressed hesitation regarding feeling safe in the sanctuary due to underlying medical conditions. A couple of people think we are being too conservative requiring both masking and social distancing/ limited seating. While we understand and appreciate this feedback, the COVID Task Force believes that we need to continue with the current protocols for those who attend in the sanctuary, especially given this latest surge of COVID cases.
There was feedback from people attending from home to add opportunities to connect to worship beyond watching the livestream. About half watching from home requested a return to the on-line chat. We will begin reinstating the online chat via Youtube on December 19. Several respondents also mentioned missing pre-recorded content (chalice lightings, the church covenant, music pieces) so those attending from home could participate in the services. While we are able to do this via audio recordings, we currently do not have the staffing or equipment to prepare pre-recorded video content that can be simultaneously viewed at home and in the sanctuary. Pursuing this will need congregational discussion about the commitment of resources. Many people said that they miss the choir and live singing. Unfortunately, we are not yet sure when it will be safe enough.
Thank you to everyone who responded. We hope that sharing this feedback will give all of us a sense of where we are as a community and what next steps we can take. This continues to be a work in progress. We will evaluate further modifications to worship and will communicate our plans with the congregation.
The COVID Task Force
Tom Coffey (Chair), Joan Coyne (Standing Committee Chair), Rev. Ellen Spero, Dolores Heredia-wood, Steve Zocchi and Jess Volk