For the Sake of the Gospel: Online and In-person Ministry
- Written by Pastor Tobias
- Category: Blog
Redeemer, New Paltz is prayerfully working on our plans to enact online and in person ministry as we continue to “Share Christ’s Welcome,” organized through Worship, Service, and Learning. Please take the time to read through these updates and join us for a brief Community Meeting on Sunday, Nov. 15th for further discussion. And please join us in prayerful support of moving forward with online and in-person ministry for the sake of the Gospel!
The Council at Redeemer is recommending that we move forward with a hybrid model of online and in person ministry beginning in Advent (the last Sunday in November and the start of the new Church year)! More on what this means for Online/In-person Worship.
Online Worship will continue to take place via Zoom using the link we currently use.
The Re-Entry Team is Mapping out seating. Ushers will seat people to maximize space and minimize the chance of someone arriving and there not being room for them to sit anywhere. For those of us choosing to attend in person, we should be ready to sit wherever the ushers ask us to sit.
We should also be aware that, at least initially, there will be wires and computers in the sanctuary that give it a bit of a “behind the scenes” feeling, and which may also require more care to avoid tripping! It would also help us to know if you plan to attend in person or online, or if you are still deciding so that we can ensure there is enough space for folks to sit.
Communion in a Time of Crisis
With the beginning of Advent, and coinciding with our move to hybrid ministry, Redeemer will begin to offer Holy Communion via one element. People worshipping in person, who so wish, may come forward to receive a wafer reverently dropped into their hands by the pastor, who will be masked and who will have thoroughly sanitized his hands prior to distribution. Returning to their seats, those receiving the wafers will then lift their mask to place the wafers in their mouths, afterwards repositioning the mask fully across their nose and mouth, and utilizing hand sanitizer positioned in each chair row to clean their hands.
Those joining worship from home will be invited to create a holy space at home, if they have not already, and within this reverent space to have either a small roll, pita bread, or other suitably reverent bread element available as worship begins, so as to receive Holy Communion as indicated by the pastor.
Communion in a time of Crisis recognizes that we continue to live in very different times and under very unusual circumstances; circumstances that make it appropriate for this temporary form of remote participation in communion to take place where agreed upon by council, pastor, and wider Church body).
We also acknowledge and affirm that for those worshipping with us online, who may not feel comfortable receiving one element at home, the fullness of Christ‘s redeeming work will continue to come to them and for them until such a time as it is possible for them to safely receive Holy Communion in person once more. This is a Spiritual Communion and it, too, is the “real deal” through which we can trust that the fullness of Christ’s mercy is imparted.
In all of this and more, we lean heavily on grace and the assurance that God’s grace in Christ will find us and seek to sustain us wherever we are and as whoever we are during these extraordinary times.
God’s House (Building) Preparations
To get God‘s House at Redeemer ready for hybrid worship and ministry to happen, as well as to better equip the building for current and potential congregational and Community Partner use, Council is also recommending that we as a congregation pivot from using the funds raised by Redeemer and through the MNYS matching grant for Phase Two of roof work towards other building upgrades, such as for cleaner air, water, safety equipment, audio/visual equipment, and fixing up the Fellowship Hall.
We need people to volunteer to be trained as ushers, both welcoming and seating people before and after worship, as well as conducting some light sanitizing duties after worship concludes.
Flexibility and Patience
As we move into this holy experiment of hybrid ministry - worship, service, and learning - we will likely all need to continue to muster lots of patience and flexibility as we discover things that were overlooked in planning, or that need to be planned differently. We also need to recognize that if infection rates change in Ulster County we may need to switch back to online only Ministry for a short or longer period of time.
There will continue to be many questions and unknowns, yet our constant through this decision-making process and in all things - of course - is our Savior Jesus Christ. And it is for the sake of “Sharing Christ’s Welcome,” for the sake of bringing the gospel of Christ’s welcome and love to the world that we labor together, as a congregation online and in person.