This has truly been an unprecedented season. We are grateful for the faithfulness of God to our church during the past weeks. We have not just survived, but we have thrived! Our people are strong and full of faith, our community is connected, our finances are steady, and our plans for the year are undeterred -- well done, Dwelling Place Church!
Of course, the most common questions we receive concern plans to gather in-person again. I know that every pastor on earth is praying over the same question! The truth is, we have prayed earnestly on a weekly basis. We have also been in ongoing conversations with not just our leaders and elders, but also legal authorities and other wise pastors from like-hearted churches. Our desire has always been to reopen as soon as we are able to do so in a legal, responsible, and enjoyable way!
I would like you to know that we are aiming for a return to offering in-person church services on Pentecost Sunday, May 31.
We have not been the first church to reopen, which has allowed us to learn valuable lessons from others. But we are also not near the last, as many are looking to mid-June or even July. However, we’ve been encouraged by noticing there’s much unity amongst church communities of our size also looking to May 31 as a reopen date.
Please be aware that this is our goal, and the exact details of how this will look is still developing, as the local and global situation is always developing. This includes the possibility of a change of date. What we anticipate currently is offering multiple, limited capacity services on Sunday. We will follow all social distancing guidelines, including seating people in a manner which spreads out households. To accomplish this without turning anyway away we will have a pre-registration system to help people select their preferred service time and reserve their seat. We will most likely be required to offer a service exclusively for those ages 65+. Additionally, we have already completed major overhauls of our cleaning regimens and sanitation systems, including installing UV filtration to our HVAC system.
Of course, we know many people will not be comfortable to return to a gathering just yet - that's perfectly okay! We are reopening seats in our auditorium for those who want, or even need, to be back at church. Plenty of people, especially those who are at-risk, should remain home. Please rest assured that we will continue to prioritize and optimize our DPC Church Online broadcast for you. We anticipate that the return to “normal-ish” will be a long transition. Our online service was here before the stay home orders, and it is never going away. Additionally, many of the wonderful new online additions we’ve made are here to stay!
A note about criticism: This has been a unique time for pastors and church leaders everywhere who are under immense levels of pressure, expectations, and scrutiny. Pastors help oversee a broad spectrum of people. No matter when our church or any church reopens, many people will be approving, but some will be critical. Let’s not agree with the voice of the accuser but let’s be a voice of love to churches in our city. Please, Dwelling Place People, join with us in being encouraging and understanding to the broader church body in this uncharted time.
Dwelling Place Church, you are the best. We love you dearly. We support you all. We are so happy you have remained connected throughout this time, and we look forward to getting “closer” as we move forward!