Outdoor Worship Service – September 13th @ 10:30am

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Registration is required to attend

Dear Church,

We are excited to invite you and your family to our second outdoor worship service on September 13th, 2020! This is the first of many outdoor services as we plan on continuing these through the warmer fall months of September and October.

We have been gathering in person with a limited capacity (20-40 people) inside since early June. We acknowledge that with standard COVID-19 safety precautions in place (wearing masks, physical distancing, not singing) it has been cumbersome to say the least, and many feel unsafe to return. Most people still elect to tune in from home. We also realize that watching church at home can be quite nice. The ability to sleep a bit longer, sit on your couch with coffee, and the ability to “go to church” as a family are some of the silver linings of this time of isolation.

But we miss something by not all being together. As much as it is nice to have church in our living rooms, we mustn’t make this ‘new normal’ the forever normal. The church in the US was already individualized; we feel called to hold fast to our identity as members of a body.

The church is more than just our own experience. Here’s what we miss by not being together in body:

We miss seeing each other worshiping and the way that strengthens our own faith (Col 3:16)
We miss hearing children speak aloud simple but powerful prayers
We miss seeing others who have suffered great loss hold up their hands outstretched toward God in worship (1 Cor 4:21-26)
We miss hearing the sound of the congregation singing over us. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We miss the weekly renewal of our identity as participants in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-29)
We miss an immediate sense of the goal of corporate maturity (Eph 4:15-16)
We miss the witness of public worship within our MetroWest community (Deut 31:10-12)

We are all getting tired of virtual church and we know that what we are doing now is only temporary. There will be a day in the future when we can hang up our masks and enter the church building with a handshake or a hug. We hope and pray that day comes soon.

In the meantime, we want to enable an in-person worship service that is as safe as possible given our current restrictions. As we review the regulations and recommendations from health experts in our community and the local and federal governments, we hope that you will feel safe to return and participate in the life of this church at such a crazy time as this!

Here is what that morning will look like:

10:30am Outdoor Worship Service
@ the Bradford Outdoor Theatre (the lawn behind Bradford Hall)

Who should attend?
People of all ages. This is a casual outdoor service with children and students in the first 20 minutes. After children and students are dismissed to participate in physically distanced ministries, Pastor Tom will preach beginning a new series in the book of Revelation, and we will share communion together. Our deacons have created a way to share communion together that minimizes direct contact of hands on the elements. Expect a few distractions from either the road, the weather, or from little ones. We welcome all to experience our first effort at an outdoor service. To help us get setup and give everyone a bit more time to attend in person, we’ll hold this service at 10:30am

Families with infants and toddlers may reserve a room in the children’s wing, so that one parent can be with their children in a safe, kid-friendly environment while the other parent attends the service. Then, the whole family can join up and socialize with everyone outside after the service.

After the first 20 minutes of worshiping through music, the K-5th grade children will be dismissed to the lawn by the memorial for the children’s service. Parents may come by to pick up their children once the service is over. Registering your children online through the link provided will be all the sign-in necessary for outdoor services.

Of course, if you or anyone in your household has been exposed to someone with Covid-19, and/or have been notified by a medical professional that you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 recently, and/or have a pending Covid-19 test, or if you are feeling unwell, please do not attend. The service will be live-streamed on our website.

COVID-19 Regulations:

Masks: Wear ’em.
Physical distancing: Families and groups will be distanced by at least 10′. Markers on the ground will indicate where you can sit as a family or individual. Of course, we have the entire green space to use, so please sit in a location where you feel comfortable.
Sign-up: We require all to sign up for the worship service in advance. This is out of an abundance of caution, should there be a need for contact tracing.
Capacity: The latest orders from the state of Massachusetts (see section 2 on page 3) does not limit capacity on outdoor religious gatherings. The green space behind Bradford allows us to spread well apart so that our normal attendance of 150-250 persons can be appropriately accommodated.
Singing: Scientific and medical research on singing and the transmission of Covid-19 is a very new area that continues to evolve. In our assessment of latest research, singing aloud is a measured risk that we are willing to take. With masks on and adequate physical distancing, we encourage singing! For those who feel uncomfortable with this, we will have a ‘non-singing’ section clearly marked.

All these precautions are good, but at this point we cannot completely eliminate the risk of Covid-19 spread. Each of us must make our own decision about our comfort and safety, and we will not judge each other for the decisions we make.

At the same time, the positivity rate has been hovering between 1.5%-2% for several months (and we’ve seen no large spike in cases from events such as large outdoor protests or phase III reopening). It will likely be several more months before we start to see the light at the end of this tunnel. We want to figure out the best and safest ways to worship together.

Comfort/Accessibility:

Chairs: We cannot provide chairs for this service. Please bring a lawn chair or blanket if you would like something to sit on.
Tents: We will have a small area in the south side parking lot with some shade, reserved for the elderly or those who with medical concerns. Folks are encouraged to bring their own umbrellas or tents and set them up.
Dropoffs: The south side parking lot will be reserved for limited seating and for dropping off tents/chairs and other things. Please park in the available part of the north parking lot (some will be used for small groups) or in the town building.
Hearing and seeing: Our sound amplification can be heard across the field and lyrics/readings will be on our own devices at tccwayland.org/bulletin. Unfortunately, we do not have a screen that is bright enough to be seen during the day.

We hope these precautions and preparations allow the most amount of people to feel safe and excited enough to come and participate. If these still do not make you feel safe or desire to participate, we invite you to let us know what we could do to help you feel safe and want to join us.

FAQs:

What happens if it rains – Will everyone be allowed inside or will current restrictions still apply?
If rain is forecast for the morning, we will simply hold a live-streamed only service from inside. (Update 9/9/20: Light rain is forecast for that morning. We plan on holding the service if the weather is forecast for light rain. We will cancel and live-stream only from indoors if the weather turns worse.). We will notify you via this website, and an email by 7:30a Sunday morning if the outdoor service is cancelled.

How level is the ground behind Bradford? If it is an uneven terrain, will older people in chairs be comfortable in this setting?
It is reasonably level but do come early to find a spot you are comfortable in. The south parking lot is an available, level seating area.

Is there a limit on the number of people you can accommodate?
There is no limit on capacity as long as we spread out and maintain proper social distancing. We plan on spacing people/families out at least 10’ apart.

Will this be another sign-up service venue?
Yes. For reasons of contact tracing and to confirm you have not to your knowledge been in contact with Covid-19 and you are healthy enough to attend, we ask all to register for this service.

Will we be wearing masks while singing? Are there articles you’ve read talking about this as safe?
Yes. Masks will be worn at all times. People leading the service will be at least 25′ away from the first “row” of people and will remove their masks to lead. If you’d like to read more there are some articles here, here, and if you really like academic research papers here, and if you read German here.

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