At our Community Meeting this past Sunday, we were invited to re-frame the ongoing building re-entry discussion within the larger context of Church Forward Visioning. This will help us to think about organizing Worship, Learning, and Service, as well as the encouragement of Community Partnerships not in terms of “when we can get back to the way things were” but “how is God in Christ calling us to become the Church of today and tomorrow.”
It is becoming clear that becoming the Church of today and tomorrow needs to include both online as well as in person ministry. Some ministry, such as picnics, Sunday School for Youth and Kids, and some pastoral visits have already begun in a physically-distanced manner outside, while worship, Bible Study, Justice and Equality organizing, Homelessness/Hunger organizing, meetings, the posting of inspirational messages, and other pastoral visits continue online via social media, zoom, and the old-fashioned telephone.
In terms of getting the building ready for eventual re-entry, it was shared that Redeemer task groups have researched and received quotes for installing UV filtration systems on Redeemer’s heating and cooling system, as well as installing touch-free faucets, soap and paper towel dispensers. Another task group is researching short and long-term options for equipment to improve the audiovisual experience of online ministry, especially worship.
As there will be major costs to install the kind of basic safety upgrades needed to make building use safe in the shorter and longer-term, as well as audio/visual equipment and other changes to God’s House deemed necessary for online and in-person ministry, we are asking the Metropolitan New York Synod (MNYS), as well as the people of God at Redeemer, New Paltz to consider re-directing the money we collected for Phase Two of roof repairs towards these necessary upgrades. This could be possible as the work done in Phase One of roof repairs has proven through a full year of storms to have fully solved the leak problems (thanks be to God!). Perhaps God was helping us to raise these funds thinking that it was for one purpose, only to discover that amidst this pandemic there is actually another more pressing purpose at hand.
The meeting concluded with an acknowledgment that we will need to do our own prayerful consideration, as well as wait to hear from the MNYS about re-directing these funds in order to move forward with the building upgrades needed as part of plans for continuing online and in-person ministry.