This is a question I think about every day. I read as much as I can about the course of the C-19 Virus and what it means for reopening our church for gatherings–small and large. The President this weekend declared that public worship is essential, and I agree with him. The spiritual health of our nation is at the heart of who we are as a people. The only question isn’t whether we should open. That’s a given. The only question is “when.”
I served as pastor of the Church at Litchfield Park from 2001 to 2006. The pastor there now is a gifted woman named Lynne Kammeraad. She sent out this email to the congregation earlier this week, and it’s so thoughtful that I wanted you to see it. She raises all the difficult questions which have crossed our minds.

May 22, 2020

Dear CLP families and friends,

Places of worship everywhere have struggled with several challenges related to caring for each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest challenge, which is multifaceted and perhaps the most difficult yet, has to do resuming in-person gatherings.

Maintaining social distance, limiting crowd sizes, requiring the use of face coverings, singing or not singing, resuming children and youth ministries, and the list goes on. These are details that need to be taken into consideration.

Some of you are eager to resume in-person gatherings, while others feel it is not wise to do so. Thank you for being people who model love for others above self! Whenever someone is baptized at The Church at Litchfield Park the one thing that is emphasized is that the person feels loved and feels safe. We want to live what we promise!

There are a number of precautions that will be implemented when we resume in-person gatherings. We hope that even if you think these precautions are not necessary, that you will consider sacrificing what you believe out of love for others who believe they are necessary. As a house of prayer for all people, we need to continue striving for peace and unity.

We do not pretend to have definitive answers on how to resume in-person gatherings, but are doing the best we can with the information we have. Honestly, this has been like trying to land a plane that’s being built in midair.

It is right to be excited about gathering in person again and we know that people are tired of social distancing and isolation. We have lost something by only meeting virtually. However, we do not want to the rush the process and are asking you to be patient as we continue monitoring the situation.

Our ministry staff and leadership team has been working diligently to prepare and plans on re-opening the campus in phases when appropriate to do so. We do not feel at this time it is appropriate to do so.

Next week you will receive another letter with an invitation to take a survey that includes several questions about your current feelings about returning to regular church activities. Please know that the following precautions will continue to be emphasized:

Stay home if you are sick.
If you are at higher risk for severe illness (the elderly, individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy), you should avoid places of worship.
Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
Upon entering and after leaving the place of worship, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with and water for at least 20 seconds (approximately the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday or the Doxology).

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Pastor Lynne

I wish I could have said that half as well!

Our Session has voted to stay closed until at least the end of June. In coming weeks the Session will meet to deliberate about what’s next. With my whole heart I yearn to be back in our historic sanctuary to worship with you. Yet, first and foremost, the health and well-being of our congregation is uppermost in my mind. Pray for wisdom and guidance for our Session and for the congregation.

Until we meet again in person call in for worship tomorrow and every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. 480 900 1250.

“Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.”
“From “God of Grace and God of Glory”
By Harry Emerson Fosdick

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Peoria, AZ 85345