Many churches are having a variety of conversations about when to reopen. Many states seem to be saying that it's perfectly fine. Many people are rushing back to try to recapture "normal life." Many people don't understand that the "normal life" we once had will not be coming back.
What I can't determine is what the regular congregation member thinks about coming back to church. I know what many church leaders think. I don't know what the people in the pews think.
My congregation is predominantly older people. I've been seeing a question lately about whether or not we should reassemble now--perhaps, some people say, we should not reassemble in a physical space until it's safe for all of us to come together.
That safety won't come until we have a cure or a vaccine or herd immunity. That might not happen for a year or two. We've been trying to come up with an AIDS vaccine for decades. We might never have a vaccine. A cure is more likely, but not immediate. Herd immunity won't take place until more of us have been exposed, which means we likely won't achieve that for several years.
Can we keep doing virtual church for several years? Will people still keep attending?
My church congregation is much smaller than the building that we have--it was built for a congregation of hundreds, and we rarely have more than 60 in the pews. We could space out to keep safe physical distance. Would we remember to do that as we left the building?
And who will be the distancing police in the new church?
And then there's the whole question of communion--both the eucharist and the coffee hour. Should we bring our own elements so as to avoid the possibility of contamination? How close do we need to be for the sacrament to take place? Can we do coffee hour while staying 6 to 10 feet away from each other?
I don't have any answers, of course. I've only just now been considering these questions.
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