Dear <<First Name>>,
On behalf of the Council and Ministry Team, I am writing with joy to share our plans for AIC activities in September. These plans represent hours of conversation, work and re-work to figure out how to be the church together, both online and in-person. Changes are coming from September 1, and the outline is below, with final details for some fellowship activities still to be confirmed next week.
Worship – Online and In Person
Beginning on Sunday, September 6, we will offer both in-person worship in the sanctuary and online pre-recorded worship on YouTube. Online worship will still debut at 11:00 a.m. on Sundays, the same time we gather in person, and be available anytime after. The sermon, prayers and liturgy will be the same for both services. Each service will feature music from a soloist, with the songs from the live service recorded for the YouTube version the following week.
If you are ready to return to in-person worship with us on September 6, we will very much look forward to seeing you! However, we must limit our numbers in order to maintain social distancing, which means that pre-registration is required. The sign up form is now open, and you can “book your pew” today! Based on survey results, we believe there will be room for all who wish to attend, but you must still pre-book so we do not turn anyone away at the door.
Our in-person worship will be a very different experience than what we left behind. Face coverings, temperature checks and handwashing will be required, and no one who is symptomatic, quarantining or self-isolating will be allowed to attend. We will not be able to sing together, or socialise before or after worship in the sanctuary. Children of all ages will need to stay in the pew with their household. Even with these restrictions, we believe that gathering for worship in person is important for those who are ready to do so, and we can create a meaningful sacred time while maintaining best practices to be COVID-Secure.
Fellowship & Faith Formation
Apart from these Sunday services, all our activities will continue online. Bible Study and Youth Group will resume after a summer break, and Jared will be launching an online Sunday School program for younger children. To keep us connected with one another, a member of the ministry team will continue to host Zoom Fellowship Hour on Sundays, while the in-person worshippers greet one another outdoors after worship. There will be Zoom gatherings for Crosstown Conversations, Conversation on Racial Justice, choir and other small groups as plans unfold.
Creating two separate worship experiences, alongside these many other activities, means that we will have to scale back some of the other things we have been doing in recent months. The twice-weekly Pause for Prayer will transform to a brief Wednesday YouTube prayer service. The Children’s Message with Jared and Isla will be replaced by online Sunday School.
Pastoral Outreach & Prayer
The individual outreach and check-in phone calls, texts and emails that Jared, Jonathan and I have been doing will be much less frequent. We recognise how important these contacts have been during the last uncertain months, and we have grown much closer in our connections with many of you.
You will still hear from us, but we also trust that now you know how to contact us. We encourage you to reach out and let us know how we can be praying for you. We want to celebrate joys and milestones, and share the burden of cares and crises.
More Changes Expected
One more important note: as with everything these days, all of these careful plans are still subject to change, and the whole plan is only for September, to be updated for October. We hope for further steps forward to the new normal at that time, but we are also aware that any change in cases of the virus could require stepping back again. You’ll see our whole sermon series and worship plan captures this theme of living faithfully with uncertainty!
Next week's weekly email will confirm the final schedule for next Sunday, so stay tuned.
I want to take a moment to express my deep gratitude to many people.
- To our staff team of Jared, Jonathan and Monty, who have been working longer and harder than ever before.
- To our furloughed staff, including Scott, Monica, Jesse, Malina and all our receptionists, who patiently await the chance to return.
- To our musicians, who bring joy and hope to our worship every week.
- To members of Council and other leaders who have given hours of time, offered wise counsel and made tough decisions needed to see the church safely through this perilous season, spiritually, financially, physically, and organisationally.
- To all of you who have given to support the church financially in these last few months, especially those who have increased their giving or made a gift for the first time.
- To everyone who shows up for this new way of being church, who prays for our church and its leaders.
Thanks be to God for all of you. Because of your faithfulness, our church has only grown in breadth and depth in this difficult time. Thank you for your part in this congregation, gathered in London and scattered around the world. God is at work among us.
On behalf of the Council and Ministry Team:
Rob Thomas, Stephen Howard, Nancy Rafanelli, Sophia Pratt-Lewis, Will Jungman, Amy Richards, Janet Reyes, Kathryn Gerken, Jonathan Miller and Jared Jaggers