Dear St. Andrew's Community:
At the Session meeting on May 19, the question “When can we reopen for worship?” was raised. After some discussion, it was agreed we’d ask the Worship Committee and Health Task Force (which we created in March) to offer thoughts. That group is now in discussion by email.
As you may know, Santa Barbara County issued guidelines May 21 and the state issued information May 25.
- In essence, the county restricted gatherings to “drive-in style” events where worshippers stay in their cars and do not use restrooms.
- The state guidelines mean we could only use 25% of our sanctuary capacity, require that everyone be screened for their health before entering, use hand sanitizer, wear masks, not sing hymns, and disinfect surfaces regularly.
We also received word from our insurance carrier that "holding in-person worship services is not recommended at this time based on CDC recommendations to avoid gatherings of over 10 people."
Another common caveat, as I’m sure you are aware, is that people over 65 and/or with pre-existing conditions not attend.
Some churches have been doing "live streaming" services. A review of our technological infrastructure indicates we'd need to do some significant upgrades to do that well.
Given all this, we do not anticipate being able to safely worship in person for some time. We are, however, actively reviewing options and innovations as we learn of them.
As you know, we have been able to have Session meetings. adult studies and coffee hours using Zoom. If you have a group in the church that could "meet" by doing that and would like some support in setting that up, let us know.
For now, we are grateful we can reach as many as possible through our video services and have Zoom meetings.
This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday...a reminder that God's Spirit is unbounded by walls or distance. May we continue to know we are connected in faith and mutual support.