A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: THE EXPERIMENTS CONTINUE
On Wednesday night, we held our most recent in-person outdoor service, this time a special service to pray for healing for our nation amidst all the social concerns and political divisions that we are experiencing, especially in the context of a close and bitterly contested national election. It was a lovely and moving service, not simply because we were able to focus on healing, but because we were able to do so on a beautiful evening and to be physically in the same space at the same time. (A video is available on our website)
As you know, we have been experimenting with different in-person worship and ministry opportunities outdoors over the past few months, as the pandemic continues to make it unwise to gather in groups indoors for extended periods of time.
We currently have another combined outdoor in-person service scheduled for Sunday, November 22, at 11 a.m. But it is unclear whether it is practical to continuing offering full-length services of worship outdoors through the winter, though the Session’s Worship Committee is actively examining the possibilities of doing so.
In the meantime, though, we are going to try another experiment, and that is with weekly in-person Evening Prayer Services on four Tuesdays in a row, starting next week on November 10. These services will start at
6 p.m. and last around 25 minutes long, and will consist of Scripture, prayer, silent reflection, and pre-recorded music (there will be no sermon or homily).
We will be gathering where we did for the Special Service for National Healing: behind the church building], in the area near the entrance to the buildings that leads to the Kirk Center if you go right, and up to Fellowship Hall if you go left (pictured). This area has both nice space and good acoustics, and it is reasonably well-lit by street lamps at night.
Unlike the Special Prayer Service last Wednesday, though, these Evening Prayer Services will not be livestreamed. That is because we are holding them specifically to respond to people’s desire to find safer alternatives for in-person worship than gathering indoors; it also cuts down considerably on the set-up time required of our tech team.
We will run the Evening Prayer Services through Tuesday, December 1 and then evaluate whether there is a mandate for continuing them through Advent. As always, if you have ideas for creative worship or ministry for which you are willing to help create an experiment, please pass your ideas along to the relevant committee of Session. You can find contact information for those here. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays!
Grace and Peace,