What a difference a year makes. A year ago we shut down our worship service to in-person attendance. The first service of the pandemic was broadcast on my IPhone over Facebook. It was something of a disaster. The picture from the phone was like looking into a mirror; the sanctuary appeared reversed. The signal kept dropping. The sound was poor.
Now we have two high-resolution cameras and several area microphones picking up the worship service. We were able to open our sanctuary to under thirty people in the early fall but were forced to close that off again in November. We rewired our sanctuary for high-speed Wi-Fi and found ways to broadcast both live and recorded worship at the same time.
Looking to the future, I have established a comprehensive tech team to create a hybrid worship experience, one that can be enjoyed in person and also live streamed to those who want to attend virtually. We will be making critical changes to both our audio and visual systems in the near future. When we are able to welcome people into our worship service, we hope to have a new, first-rate audio system and large screens tucked under the beams so the congregation can enjoy the pre-recorded portions of our worship service and read the words to the hymns, allowing us to put down the hymnals and, someday, clap our hands to the music.
Our Re-open Task Force is waiting for our infection rate to drop below the critical threshold. While we encourage those of you who can get vaccinated to do so, we will not require vaccinations to attend the service. I feel strongly that vaccinations should not be a wall to being able to join in person again. We will wait until the health of all of our people can be reasonably assured. While that may be frustrating, it is, I believe, the best course of action.
In the meantime we have grown and even thrived in this last year. Our overall giving is back up to pre-pandemic levels. We still need everyone to make a pledge, and I hope you will go online today and join us in this commitment by clicking HERE.
We have learned so much about ourselves. In this past year, we have learned that being a part of a community is absolutely essential to our survival. Many of us have found a way to be even more involved in the life of our congregation through meetings, classes and other online events. We have welcomed new members, touched the lives of many, and learned more about ourselves than we ever did in person. We will continue to rely on the virtual platform to connect with each other. We now have folks joining us from across the country. More importantly we have found a way to connect once again with those who, for a variety of reasons, have been unable to attend in person.
I am so proud of what we have become in this last year. I know we will continue to grow and reinvent ourselves as a community.
Stay connected, Rev. John