Fall 2020 COVID 19 Operations Update for Pathways
from Pastor Eddie
Fall is in full swing and Pathways continues to minister in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that influences so much of our activities and discussion. We remain grateful to the Pathways family for their prayers and faithful support of the ministry. Our Elders and Deacons and Committees and Ministry Teams are working on behalf of the congregation, and our Church Staff is constantly seeking creative ways to provide our church family with opportunities for spiritual growth and connection without putting the health and well-being of our people at risk.
Generally speaking, our local-state-federal governments are trying to find ways to reopen our economy and civic life. To that end, schools are reopening virtually, while restaurants and businesses are still limited in operations in order to maintain physical distancing. The elections are already underway, and the Coronavirus outbreak at the White House reminds us all of the ongoing risks related to this epidemic.
We at Pathways are walking as what is now being referred to as “phigital” church, a combination of live “physical” operations and services along with a variety of “digital” connections points. For example, we hold our live Sunday worship service, but we also stream it to folks online, and BOTH the live and the digital “congregations” are VITALLY important parts of our church family.
Throughout the pandemic, we have chosen to carefully follow the best practices encouraged by our nation’s CDC, as well as guidance from our state and local health officials. Even now, with permission to hold physical meetings with a fairly large number of people, we are able to maintain excellent distancing between household groups (“bubbles,” as some call them), we require masks, singing and speaking are very limited, and we use “no touch” procedures for the offering, for communion, for communications—everything we can do to keep folks healthy and safe. As always, cleaning procedures are followed, including sanctuary cleaning between the Pathways service and the Latino service later on Sunday afternoons.
As a result of the loosening of regulations, we will no longer require reservations to attend Sunday services. We know many of our members continue to choose the online option and many have indicated they will continue to do so until vaccinations are widely available, hopefully sometime next year—so we are not “pressuring” anyone to return physically. However, we do have members who are in good health, members who are out and about during the week and so prefer to be physically present for worship—so we welcome them back. We often remind one another that “the church is the people,” so it is a blessing that some of the people can be present safely. When you are comfortable with the idea of physical attendance, we will welcome you back, but we will continue to work hard to address the needs of our online congregation as well!
Recently, we joyfully celebrated Communion in a multicultural service with our Brazilian and Latino partner congregations. The Spirit of God was obviously at work, and the energy of the people in response was a great blessing as well. Happily, “digital” members shared that they likewise experienced the special nature of that service. We are so grateful to God for His goodness and our partners.
We are still (like almost every church in America that we know) unable to offer Student and Children’s Ministries in person. Please pray for Jonathan Der and Silvia Mendes and their teams as they continue to lead these ministries and seek to bless and influence the next generations in the ways of the Lord in very difficult circumstances.
At the urging of the Elders, we are working on a special Called Congregational Meeting, most likely in November. Their sense is that while normal church business gatherings are not possible, we need and want to present to the church family the 2021 financial plan and the listing of officers and committees for approval. These would be the only two items of business, and they provide for the continuance of church operations as we move into the next year. Please watch your emails, the website, and listen for announcements for specific details as we move closer to the event.
Finally, we remain ready to assist however we can in these unusual times. Our various leadership teams are regularly asking what more we can do to meet the needs of the church family and the community in which we exist. I am grateful to serve a church that looks both inward and outward in all its ministries.
God’s peace and blessings to all — Pastor Eddie
**Keep watching your email, our website PathwaysBC.org, and our Facebook page for more updates**