Happy New Church Day!

May 29, 2021

From the Pastor: Get Ready for New Church Day!

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations. (Psalms 100)

Last June we were still in the early days of the pandemic. Sunday worship was still an online-only event, which meant that our celebration of New Church Day (June 19th) was decidedly light in the festivities department. Now, a year has gone by, and we are still operating under COVID restrictions, but those restrictions are less severe than they once were. What’s more, there has so far, recently, been a good trend in the various measures of our worldwide fight against the novel coronavirus. Infection rates are down, immunization is moving along, and as I write this the State of Maryland is approaching the vaccination percentage threshold that will trigger an official change in our mask-wearing policies, among other things.

In light of these trends, while recognizing the essential unknowability of the future, I have been talking with trustees, pastor’s council members, and other individuals in the church, and looking to what neighboring churches as well as other General Church societies are doing and have begun to make plans for a couple of things. First of all, I am planning for an outdoor celebration of New Church Day to follow the indoor worship service on June 20th. The specifics of how it will work are still a little fluid and will be determined by how pandemic conditions continue to evolve over the next three weeks, so watch for email announcements with more details. But the general plan as it stands right now will be to have a picnic/barbecue along with outdoor activities (volleyball, perhaps).

What’s more, I am tentatively looking to that day (June 20th) as the day we reintroduce congregational singing as part of our worship ritual. Music is a vital part of how we express reverence for and gratitude to the Lord. I am deeply grateful to the musicians who have provided us music as part of our worship experience over the past fifteen months of this plague. But worship is also meant to be something we all contribute to, not just witness. And so, I have been eagerly looking forward to when we can responsibly reintroduce singing for the entire congregation.

But as I said, this is tentative, and will depend on the ongoing evolution of the whole situation. What’s more, anyone who is in a high-risk condition (immunocompromised, not yet vaccinated, etc.) is encouraged to continue to use prudence when it comes to attending church events. We will continue to live stream our indoor worship services, so if June 20th is too soon for you to attend events like this in person, you will still have other means of participating.

It is my hope that we can continue to take steps to return to “normal”, full operations as a church community. It has certainly been a long ride so far. But as eager as I am to do so, I am also not going to force things that go against prudence and the ongoing changing circumstances we find ourselves in. We will get there eventually, sooner or later. But I’m praying for sooner, as I imagine you are as well.

Rev. Glenn “Mac” Frazier
Pastor, Washington New Church

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