COVID-19 Response

A Portage Chapel Hill COVID-19 Update

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I continue to pray for you and your health in this unprecedented time. As the messages of governmental leaders have not always been consistent or clear, I intend to continue to lead Portage Chapel Hill in this time with best practices as guided by both science and the faith tradition we share.

The science is clear that in this time we honor each other best by doing all the stuff we have been hearing about since February: wash hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, stay socially distanced (at least 6 feet apart), don’t touch your face or other people, enjoy the outdoors but use the same standards, and wear a mask. Last Sunday we tested our readiness to be together in the sanctuary for worship. 11 youth confirmands, their parents and siblings, the worship team and staff, plus one couple who simply saw the cars in the parking lot and came in to worship were the live congregation, even as the virtual community participated in the livestream worship on Facebook. It went smoothly! Everyone was greeted at the door. Temperatures were taken and hands sanitized. Everyone wore a mask (masks are available for those who forget). You can expect to see the same moving forward. Hand sanitizer is EVERYWHERE. No programs will be handed out, no Friendship Folders or Offering Baskets will be passed. The sanctuary space is set up so that there are lots of individual seats at least 6’ from others, plus “family groups” of chairs for folks who have been living together in this COVID time.

I so want to be in physical worship with you all. But my bottom-line message right now is that we need the sanctuary to be occupied by physically healthy people, folks with the LOWEST risk should they contract COVID-19. Stay home if you are dealing with any kind of immune deficiency, if you are “aged”, if you have young kids (there is no childcare or Sunday School right now), or if you are just not sure you are ready to be in shared interior space with other folks. We will be prepared for seating for around 70 people in the sanctuary and another 20 or so “overflow” in the lobby. Worship is designed now to maximize the livestreaming experience, as I believe that getting back to what we once knew as “normal” is still a long way away. I also know that livestreaming will be a regular ministry of Chapel Hill even after something like “normal” re-emerges.

Even as science directs us in how best to take care of our physical selves in this time, I encourage you to take advantage of other builders of spiritual, psychological, and social strength offered online by Chapel Hill and other progressive Christian resources. In these often-confusing, always stressful times we need to find more ways to keep ourselves connected to Jesus, the rock of our faith.

Be safe, be well, be blessed~

Pastor Barry