|One of our church council goals for the year was “to embrace our mission as an engaged and healthy faith community that meets everyone where they are, via hybridand in-person worship, faith formation and outreach.”|
I have to say when we adopted this goal, I had one image of how the pandemic would continue which – ahem – hasn’t been the case. As we have walked our way through these last months, with the waves of Delta and Omicron, one of the things that has been a point of hope for me has been seeing the flexibility of ways that we worship.
During the last six months, we have worshiped in two ways—offering both an in person service and a virtual one. What we have seen is that as people’s comfort levels and the community risk has shifted, at times we have had more people worshiping in person than online, and at times we have had more people worshiping online than in person (see attendance graphs below).
For some folks, one form of worship has been the most important. For those at a distance or for whom it is difficult to come to church, it has been meaningful throughout this time to have a place to gather and worship in virtual community. There are also those who have continued in person throughout, finding meaningful connection in embodied community. There are also those who have moved between one and another, as they have gauged their own risk and comfort levels in the flux of our public health.
I earnestly pray for the stabilization of the health of our community, and am heartened to see the rapid drop in Covid infections in King County. I also ponder about what this season and back and forth can mean for us as a church. In part, as most of us have had a taste of virtual and in person worship, it is my hope that as we move into the “hybrid” church to come, that we know neither way of worshiping is the “real” church. Just like if we had started having worship services at two different times, we are one congregation worshiping in two different ways. Even as we will *hopefully cross fingers* move into livestreaming worship, as a church we are making something new— where we are a community of “both” not “either.”
I hope that you have found a way to join us for worship, as we gather for community. We know how hard it has been, and I hope that there is a way we can support each other that feels right for where we are right now. May God bless our gathering and our steps towards the church we are called to be.
|In person worship attendance (blue) vs. number of screens watching online Sunday at 10am (red)|
|Totals of worship attendance in person (blue) and an estimate of the total number of people who watched online worship live or after the fact (red), using 1.5 times the number of screens who watched at any time to estimate the total number of people. Note that December 26th and January 2nd had only online worship.|
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