Many of you may know the song “I am the church, You are the church.” I love this song because it says that the the church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people. I think that now more than ever we have felt the essence of this song. While the church building may not be open, we are most certainly being the church in our community and in the world. We are all the church together.
And with this definition of the church in mind, our Health and Wellness team has been hard at work looking at the next steps in being the church together. They have looked at research, discussed, and been in prayer about when and how would be the best possible way to safely gather again physically. We wanted to provide an update with their plans.
You can find St. Paul UMC’s phasing chart here
We are using metrics from the CDC as well as Atlanta’s reopening phases to guide our decisions. All of the dates provided are target dates, that is they can change based on cases in our area.
Currently our target dates are as follows:
July 12th – Start phase 3 where we gather in small groups for Sunday worship
- With Phase 3 we plan to start some small-groups that will worship together on Sunday mornings. We envision these groups consisting of 2-3 families that will gather on someone’s porch or backyard to watch our online worship together. We will also provide discussion questions and children’s activities for each week. These gathering would be socially distant and purposely small. For those who do not feel comfortable meeting for in-person small groups, virtual small groups will also be created. There will be an opportunity for everyone! To help us plan these small groups please complete this survey.
August 9th – Start Phase 4 where we have in-person worship available in the sanctuary with proper precautions and streaming available.
- This date is contingent upon what the Atlanta Public Schools do in the fall. Currently their first day of classes is scheduled for August 10th, so we will base our plans on what courses they take. This phase will include many guidelines for safely worshipping together.
Our first and most important goal is to make sure that everyone is safe. We strive to live by John Wesley’s General rules to “Do no harm,” “Do good,” and “Live by the Ordinances of God.” As such these plans can change based on cases in our area. These dates are target dates, and subject to change. We know, however, that regardless of when we open the church building again, the church is made up of individuals: We are all the body of Christ.
As always please feel free to reach out with any comments or concerns.
Rev. Cassie Rapko