I think that most of you know that we had been planning on resuming in-person worship at City Road Chapel UMC on Sunday, July 12, 2020. We have been making plans to ensure the safety of all and were excited that we would soon be getting together soon.
However, today Mayor John Cooper announced that due to the exponential rise in COVID cases in Nashville, our city would be returning to Phase 2 status, with greater restrictions to resume. Since our Church Council agreed in the early weeks of the crisis to not resume in-person gatherings until Nashville was at Phase 3, we will NOT be resuming worship on July 12.
These decisions are never easy. There is always a balancing act regarding the risks involved in coming back together and the need to be connected. Yet, as the pastor of this congregation, I know that most of our folks are considered high-risk patients, and so we are taking the utmost care in resuming our gatherings to ensure that we are not a vector for the spread of this disease.
I know that some are looking at other area churches that are open and wondering how they do it. Honestly, several of those congregations (Long Hollow Baptist is the most prominent) have had to close down after reopening due to outbreaks in their congregations. There are no magic bullets in regard to this disease. The only sure way to avoid having people get sick is to stay at home, wear masks, and practice social distancing when you have to be out. Churches, because of the nature of the gatherings, have been shown again and again to be places where this disease spreads easily. As such, we have to take extra care to ensure that we keep folks safe.
I know that I’m disappointed that we have had to postpone again in-person gatherings, and I imagine that many of you are sad as well. This just means that we all have to reach out to one another in the ways that we can — phone calls, cards, and online. The church is not closed — we just are not able to physically meet. But God’s work of love and light continues on, and I hope you can discern how God is wanting to use you in this moment.
When will we be able to get together again? Mayor Cooper said that it’s likely we will be in Phase 2 for a couple of weeks. Given the increasing case numbers and the incubation time for the disease, I would not be surprised if we aren’t looking at August before reopening. But, we will take this a week at a time, and will reopen when we can assure the safety of all.
I love you all and miss being with you. But I know that we are joined together in the light of God’s love no matter where we are.
May God be with us all in a special way!