Dear Members and Friends of Chalice,
One of the things the pandemic has taught us is the need for flexibility and the willingness to learn and pivot. With life, church culture and everything changing so fast, we will need these skills more than ever now. Join us at Worship this Sunday to hear more about that.
Meanwhile, the Board, Council, Committee on Ministry, Worship and Religious Education Teams wanted to let you know about our worship and RE program plans for reopening. As you know, we are attempting to move to multi-platform worship that is as inclusive as possible and adapt the RE program to work for current families’ needs. The pandemic helped us reach people who have not been able to attend worship due to physical constraints, illness or distance. We want to continue being inclusive and drawing the circle wide. So, we aim to offer online participants the opportunity to engage with worship virtually, while also creating vibrant, engaging worship for in person attendees.
We have discussed at length whether to offer one or two services. We are concerned that one service at 10, like we have been doing, may end up being too crowded as people return to in person worship. We don’t want people to feel overcrowded post Covid as they return to Chalice. So we have decided to begin offering 2 services again, starting on September 12 with our Ingathering. In discussion with our Religious Education program, we have discerned that in order to make worship more accessible for families with children of multiple ages, and to effectively collaborate with RE programs, we need to change our service times.
Beginning September 12, we will offer 2 identical worship services at 9:30 and 11:30.
Family Chapel for children 10 and under will be offered in person and virtually at 10:30.
Middle and High school programs will take place in person at 10:30, allowing youth to attend services with their families.
In this way, families with children of all ages can attend either the first or second service while also being able to participate in RE programming.
Here are some elements we are creating to help facilitate a safe and welcoming space for all:
- A safe, outdoor Childspace for our littlest ones who are not able to wear face coverings
- Outdoor seating areas for adults to socialize
- Joy’s Corner – An area in the Sanctuary where children can play and move about quietly while still being able to participate in worship with their families
- Screens in the Sanctuary which will help us see better and include our zoom folk
- Screen in Fellowship Hall to watch the worship service in progress, allowing for more spaciousness for people who are not yet ready to be in the Sanctuary with others, or who wish space to move around in
- Mobile screens and cameras to use in meetings in Fellowship Hall to be able to include those who can’t get to Chalice physically or who don’t feel comfortable attending inside meetings
- And as mentioned above, the ability to engage with live worship online for those watching remotely. This multi-platform format will also be used in various Religious Education groupings to allow for those families joining from home to still participate with their peers.
Here is an outline of what Sunday morning may look like:
9:30 Worship Service 1 – Children attend worship with their parents and stay through Joys and Sorrows. Younger children have the opportunity to play and listen from Joy’s Corner in the Sanctuary. Children 4 and under may go to Childspace if desired.
10ish – Children are sung out of worship to have a snack, socialize, move their bodies and get their wiggles out, supervised by RE staff.
10:30 – RE Programming – Family Chapel, Middle, Coming of Age, High School (YRUU)
10:30ish – Adult Coffee Hour & Meetings (such as Neighborhood Networks or others)
11:30 – Worship Service 2 – Children attend worship with their parents and stay through Joys and Sorrows. Younger children have the opportunity to play and listen from Joy’s Corner in the Sanctuary. Children 4 and under may go to Childspace if desired.
12ish – Children under 10 are sung out of worship to have a snack, socialize, move their bodies and get out their wiggles supervised by RE staff.
This newer model is somewhat different from what we were used to in the past. Some of you may feel concerned or uncertain about these changes, while others may be excited by the possibilities they provide. We listened to many different opinions and needs. Now we are taking this opportunity to expand on what we knew before, opening doorways we didn’t realize had been there for us all along. Our Chalice home will still be the same precious community we know it to be. These adaptations will allow us to grow and transform, live into our values and make room for all to thrive.
Thank you for being open to this experiment and for your flexibility. We will try this new format for a few months to see whether it serves Chalice well. As we learn more about attendance patterns and the needs of our members and guests — as well as supporting our staff and volunteers—we will remain flexible and adapt to meet those needs. As always, we are willing and ready to pivot as necessary.
Meanwhile, we invite you to breathe. Trust in this process. Believe in the people who are helming these changes. You may wish to remind yourself that much of what you love about this congregation and faith will remain unchanged. And, as a living tradition, we aim not to dwell in perfectionism, but instead learn and evolve, ebb and flow in these changing tides, together.
Finally, please join us this Sunday for Reverend Nica’s last service before her summer break, exploring how we might ride the waves of change together.
Reverend Nica, Minister & Sam Dickerson, Director of Religious Education
Chalice UU Fellowship