I imagine we all have different reactions to the title above; excitement, worry, concern, longing, and many more.  As a church we thrive on congregating and worshipping together and that’s what has been so hard about this pandemic.  We’ve been restricted in our movements and in the nature of our social interaction.  As such, we hope for a better day when we may be able to safely gather.  Many pieces are in motion to lead us toward this end, but no timetable has been set.

First off, our church council has had consistent discussions about the safety of all who may some day gather.  It will be the church council that decides when and how worship will someday resume.  Thankfully, we on the council are not alone as we seek to make informed choices.  Our own ELCA Metropolitan Synod of Chicago, informed by doctors from Advocate Health and the Chief of Internal Medicine at the University of Chicago have come up with a plan to mirror the various phases of our Governor’s plan to carefully reopen our state.  This document will certainly be of help.

So too, I have created a team, with the support of council, to advise the council on next steps as well as make consideration for implementation of plans to keep people safe once we are prepared to gather again, in some fashion.  These steps toward reopening will likely be small and not too soon.  We value the lives and health of our congregants too much to be hasty or ill-informed.  Rather we will be cautious and judicious, depending upon state and county guidance as well as that of various levels of church leadership as discernment progresses.

Is there a date or a setting for our first gathering?  The answer is no.  We’re not ready yet, but we’re working in the background to consider what is possible.  Like many of you, I look forward to safely gathering again and we shall see how and when that transpires.  Until then, please know that the God who has known you since you were in the womb still watches over you and loves you, as does the faith community of Grace Lutheran Church.