In this time when we’re unable to gather in person,
we're finding new and creative ways to connect as the Body of Christ!
Apply for Our Annual
Endowment Fund Scholarship
For questions please contact one of the committee members: Chris Nichols, Don Weaver, Ardeth Woods and Mary Wintermantel or Karen in the church office.
Applications must be turned in by April 30, 2021
Dear friends in Christ,
As more and more people get vaccinated and the number of new COVID-19 cases declines, the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds is: “When will we be able to open the church building and gather for worship?” It’s been a long, hard year that has upended all our lives, and so this question is completely understandable. After being starved of human contact, we all long to be able to gather with our church family to worship God. It will be a joyous reunion when that day comes, and I look forward to it as much as anyone. However, I must urge all of us to persevere in patience and prayer a while long because that day isn’t here yet.
When I saw the cartoon above, I sighed and thought, “Yep! Spot on! We’re not ‘there yet.’” Here at Zoar we’ve done a pretty good job protecting the members and friends of our congregation, and we want to keep it that way. So, as much as we all long to be together, Zoar’s leadership believes we need to wait a little longer, so that we can continue to preserve the health and safety of all. The virus is still present all around us; in fact, just yesterday evening a report came out that COVID hospitalizations in Oregon have crept up again and are now at the highest level they’ve been in a month. In addition, we must take into consideration the fact that the majority of people in our community have not yet been vaccinated. Also, when it comes to gathering for worship, activities such as singing, spoken liturgy, and indoor gatherings are known to present a high-risk for spreading infection.
However, while we’re not “there yet,” we ARE on the way, and Zoar’s Church Council is preparing for the much-anticipated day of our arrival. In early February, a COVID-19 task force was appointed by the council to examine all the data from the CDC, the Oregon Health Authority, and Clackamas County, as well as checking with Zoar’s insurance company, in order to make sure we are in compliance as we move forward with plans for reopening. The task force members are: Lisa Hinson, Paul Rothi, Roger Skoe, and Debbie Warren. When you look at the “COVID Requirements and Recommendations” document in the link below, you’ll see that they’ve done a LOT of work. I hope you’ll take a moment to thank them!
At our Executive Council meeting on March 23, we received a first report of recommendations from the task force. After reviewing the task force’s recommendations, Zoar’s leadership believes that, for now, the many benefits of online worship outweigh the dangers of meeting in person too soon. Clackamas County is currently at “moderate risk” for infections,” and if we remain there or improve, there’s a chance we may be able to open our building to larger gatherings such as worship. However, you should be aware that things will be very different for a while, even once we “get there!”
But before we “get there,” we still have much to do: We need to investigate logistics that will be needed for future gatherings, such as worship sign up, face masks, proper distancing, cleaning practices, managing entrances/exits, strategies for music and Communion, and much more. Zoar’s Church Council is also looking into updating the sound system and adding a video camera, so that once we’re able to return to worshiping in the sanctuary, we’ll also be able to continue online worship for those who aren’t able to join us in person. One of the realities that’s emerged from this time of pandemic is that in the future churches that want to thrive will need to operate on a “hybrid” model. That is to say, they’ll need to have an online ministry presence, as well as an in-person ministry, and the online ministry is NOT merely an add on — it’s a necessity. In order to learn more about this shift, Zoar’s council members are currently reading “Becoming a Hybrid Church” by Dave Daubert and Richard Jorgenson, along with other relevant articles on this topic.
As the CDC, the Oregon Health Authority, and the county continue to update their recommendations, Zoar’s task force will update the “Requirements and Recommendations” document and the Church Council will continue to assess our position on reopening for larger gatherings such as worship. You’ll have an opportunity to hear more and to offer your thoughts during our next quarterly congregational meeting, which is scheduled for May 16 on Zoom, following Sunday worship (i.e., 12 pm).
In the meantime, if you have questions or thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to contact any members of the COVID-19 task force (listed above) or Zoar’s Executive Council (Steve Morgan, JoAnn Rothi, Di Bernklau, Debbie Warren, Carol Weaver, Marlena Adams, Noel Hygelund). Also, if you’d like a paper copy of the “COVID Requirements and Recommendations” document, please contact Karen in the church office: 503-266-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Michelle Manicke
Good Friday, April 2, 2021
COVID Requirements and Recommendations
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Our Thursday Morning Bible Study has been doing some "deep dives" into the riches of the Sermon on the Mount, using Dr. Amy-Jill Levine's book Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner's Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven as our guide.
It's never too late to join our Bible study, and thanks to the generosity of Donna Martz, Pastor Michelle has one study guide available. Please let her know if you'd like to participate: email@example.com or 503-266-4061.
The assignment for April 22 is to read Matthew 6:9-15 and pp.70-79 in Dr. Levine's book.
As always, "BYOB" — bring your own Bible, a listening ear, and an open heart, and feel free to join us! Pastor Michelle looks forward to seeing you on Zoom Thursdays at 10:30 am. Password is 118104.