The following letter was written by Pastor Dave Classen prior to our first in-person gathering after Covid lockdown.
Preparing to Gather Again
Dear OC3 Family and Friends,
We, the staff and elders, are very excited to have many of you back this Sunday, the 7th of June! However, due to the large number of those hoping to return this Sunday and due to our deep desire to have us all together in one service (not two) and finally with our intention to honor social distancing guidelines as much as possible (for these first weeks/months) we need everyone to prayerfully and seriously consider the following:
The physical setting of the auditorium/foyer and the nature of the service will be different than what we are all used to, so we ask you to come with a very flexible, secure, and gracious spirit. We have 140 chairs spread out in the auditorium and additional chairs and couches in the foyer. We ask couples to take up the front “couple chairs” and families and others can sit in the long rows, leaving two seats in between other people.
We suggest you hold off on handshakes and hugs for now. That will be difficult for some of us, especially me!
Many individuals will be wearing masks. Some will not. If it seems too difficult to contain your frustration with either choice than it may be best if you hold off on coming back for a while until you can worship with internal freedom and joy. Mask wearing in the service may seem “odd” or an overreaction, but for now it is a way to be sensitive to each other.
If you are physically health-compromised or live with and/or interact with someone with health issues, it’s possible you may want to hold off on attending for some more weeks and months, especially since we are going to be livestreaming our services for a while longer.
There will be no coffee served for an indefinite time. The doors will all be propped open. The offering plates will be by the back/entry doors. We will have limited singing (two songs by Alan and Cheryl – one at the beginning and one at the end of the service).
This first service will be primarily devoted to open mic congregational sharing as to what God has been teaching you about Himself, yourself, others, or life in general. We will have a microphone stand at each end of the stage. You are also welcome to share a humorous or silly story or a passage of Scripture that spoke to you throughout this lockdown, etc.
Finally, let me speak bluntly:
We cannot satisfy everyone with our auditorium/service arrangements. Good Christians are on both sides of the spectrum in response to the virus and society. To some, we will seem too restrictive/paranoid of the virus (i.e. no handshakes and hugging). To others, we will seem careless (i.e. singing, etc.) We are trying to find a balance, knowing full well that we do not know what that “perfect balance” is, or if there even is such a thing. So, please come filled up with God and graciousness and enter into a joyful reunion with God as a unified and passionate body.
Warmly, Your Pastor and Brother in Christ,
Dave Classen (on behalf of the elders)