Livestream Worship on Sundays at 9 am Traditional and 11 am Contemporary

E-Note from Pastor Abi

LacyAbi

I am very happy to announce that St. Thomas is finally moving towards returning to in-person worship in June!  We have missed being together for a very long time and are eager to return. We look forward to seeing our friends and to rediscovering the joy of worshipping physically together as the body of Christ.  Many of us have also been pleasantly surprised that the live-stream worship experience and zooming together for small groups have shown us new ways of being and doing church.  We may never go back fully to the way life was before the pandemic!   We have remembered deeply that God is always able to do a new thing through us in the midst of change and the challenges we face.

So, let me take a few moments to unpack the plan and some of the things you can expect as we return to in-person worship and gatherings.

First, please know that our leadership has spent significant time getting feedback from the members of the church through the recent "Return to In-Person Worship Survey" and through robust discussion with the Church Council, staff, and key committees as well as the Healthy Church Team and Trustees.  I thank everyone for their thoughtful and caring insights.

Here is the roll out plan we arrived at:

  • In general, our rationale for a June re-opening date is to allow enough time for all who plan to be vaccinated to do so prior to returning to worship and other in-person gatherings.
  • We will begin with one service at 11 AM on Sunday, June 6 and then plan to follow three weeks later with the 9 AM service on Sunday, June 27.  This will enable the Worship Team to recruit, schedule and train the necessary Welcome Team volunteers to ensure everyone's safety.  The Welcome Team will cover some of the previous duties of our greeters and ushers but they will also have new protocols and responsiblities based on the Technical Assistance Manual of our Annual Conference that have informed our particular operations plan.  We also felt that by focusing on the later service first, it allows leadreship the necessary time to reflect and make adjustments if need be from any lessons learned once we're "in action."  Then, we can apply what we learn to the second service when it re-opens at the end of the month.
  • Our intent is to start wtih returning to in-person worship and then we hope to re-open our Nursery and Sunday School ministries in September once we can offer both in-person and hybrid options in most, if not all classrooms.

Here is a brief overview of some of the things you can expect when you return:

  • Face coverings will be required at all times.
  • Eveyone must either complete a Health Acknowledgement Form prior to arrival (preferred) or be able to answer "yes" to all questions displayed on a poster at the entance as part of the entryway healthy acknowledgement process.  Individuals must be willing to share their contact information with the check-in volunteer stationed at the front door prior to entry.
  • Strict physical distancing will be observed of six feet or more at all times
  • Hymnals, Bibles, and all worship materials will be removed
  • No choirs yet, but music will be offered at each service 
  • The congregation may not sing yet, however we may hum or speak the words to pre-recorded music, or music that is "piped in" from a soloist (or vocalists of the same family) who are leading from behind the plexiglass booth.
  • A digital bulletin will be available as well as paper bulletins for individual's to pick up
  • During the passing of the peace, we will encourage waves and smiles.  We will not offer handshakes or hugging.
  • Offering plates will be available at the doors into the sanctuary so folks may drop off their offering without having to pass the plates.
  • Communion (pre-packaged) will be offered on the first Sunday of the month at both services.  Members may still participate from home by providing their own elements..  Members will come forward to pick up their pre-packaged elements and then return to their seat where they may briefly remove their mask to consume them.
  • Hospitality will be offered "to go" so folks can tailgate outside. 

What can I do to prepare my heart for worship?

As you can imagine, some parts of worship will absolutely be the same while others will be quite different.  We are also in the process of making permanent adaptations to our worship space to ensure a holy worship experience for those who will participate in-person and for those who will continue to participate at home via the livestream.  This may mean installing window treatments on the ten side windows and the central stained glass window.  It may mean adapting our existing media-tech "booth" or creating a new one.  It may mean adjustments to our ushers table, acolyte equipment storage and sacristy.  It will definitely mean there will be temporary solutions while we discern the best permanent solutions -- and it will likely mean there is some level of "messiness" in the Sanctuary while we work together to glorify God and create a worship environment that is not only sacred but effective in carrying out the many aspects of worship.

During this time of tranistion I ask for your prayers and your patience -- as we "build the airplane" while flying it at the same time!  Much like Moses and the Israelites who wandered in the willderness, we may find we share simliar feelings and thoughts to our ancestors in faith.  Hopefully, it will not take us as long to move into the promised land!  And, hopefully, God can use this time to shape our faith and deepen our committment to following Christ as we grow together through it all.

In the meantime, please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.  I promise there will be opportunities in the near future to learn more and ask questions!

Grace upon grace,

Pastor Abi

Worship

On Sunday, June 6 we will begin offering both in-person and livestream worship options.  Until then, please join the community’s Worship Livestream Event on Sundays at 9 am Traditional and 11 am Contemporary.

Contact

St. Thomas UMC
8899 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20110
703-368-5161
info@stthomasumc.org 

Our Haymarket Campus

Worship: Sundays at 10 AM
Haymarket Elementary School

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