Dear Colleagues and Partners in Ministry,
Last night I participated in the final synod wide zoom meetings that have been convened over the past two weeks, bringing rostered and congregational leaders together to discuss preparing for a return to in-person worship. It has been a delight to speak with leaders from across the breadth of the synod and to learn from one another’s experiences in this process. I am grateful that our congregations have followed my recommendation to refrain from in-person worship experience until September 2020 at the earliest and delighted that our congregations are now in a position to consider moving from the red stage to the amber stage of the Eastern Synod’s Staged Approach for the Resumption of In-Person Worship.
I feel confident that in-person worship can now take place within synodical congregations in accordance with regional and local public health recommendations and with due consideration of the resources that have been provided by my office to help you assess your readiness to resume in-person worship. The decision on when and whether to proceed to the “amber stage” is, however, one which rostered leaders and congregational councils will need to make locally and in consultation with one another. I am gratified by the attentiveness with which you have made use of the resources that the synod has provided and trust that you will make wise and responsible decisions that are appropriate to your particular congregational context.
I am grateful for the leadership provided by the members of the Eastern Synod Task Force on the Resumption of In-Person Worship. The task force members continue to be available to you moving forward and look forward to being present with you in a series of synod wide zoom meetings that will be convened in late September and early October to further share resources and learnings with one another. Promotional and registration information for these meetings will be distributed in early September.
The task force anticipates that synodical congregations will remain in the “amber” phase of the re-opening process for an indefinite period of time and will continue to be available to me and the synod’s leadership for consultation and guidance should circumstance lead us to consider altering our recommendations concerning in-person worship in the future.
Thank-you for your inspired leadership over the course of these past five months. Your witness has made it plainly evident that the church did not close. It did, however, transform many aspects of its ministry and in beautiful ways! Thanks be to God!
May God grant you generous gifts of wisdom and insight as you make plans for the fall and enjoy these concluding weeks of summer.
Peace be with you!