Returning to In-person Worship

To the Congregation of St. Paul’s,

After much prayerful deliberation and discussion, I’m pleased to announce that we will resume Sunday worship in-person on the 4th of July! And out of faithful and visionary reflection, we look forward to sustaining the relationships built between our two congregations over the last 14 months by worshipping at both churches’ venues in Upper Darby and Lansdowne on alternating Sundays in July (see details below). Our plan is to then resume weekly in-person worship services at St. Paul’s beginning in August.

This past year has been a stern test of our faithfulness and impulse control (Oh, the stories I could tell about my own life!) – as well as a long and difficult process of monitoring the continuing course of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants – not to mention professional guidance from medical and Church leaders. At the end of this letter is a list of resources I personally have found helpful.

We are mindful of the medical status of our people, as we remember that the health of some of us is more precarious. And as we worship in-person, we will continue to follow healthy limits to protect both ourselves and our community.

We also have taken the time to work on keeping our online streaming capacity up-to-date, in order to continuing sharing our services to our congregations and to our community. More virtual-connection information to come!

I am aware that some churches have followed very different standards during this past year, but am confident that our approach has been responsible, informed, and faithful; sensitive to our own unique and complex situation; and responsive to a landscape and body of knowledge that has changed from month to month.

Here’s what you need to know for July:

Schedule

Sunday, July 4, at 10:30 a.m.
In-person worship at Beverly Hills
500 Midvale Avenue, Upper Darby

Sunday, July 11, at 10:30 a.m.
In-person worship at St. Paul’s,
50 East Plumstead Avenue, Lansdowne

Sunday, July 18, at 10:30 a.m.
In-person worship at Beverly Hills,
500 Midvale Avenue, Upper Darby

Sunday, July 25, at 10:30 a.m.
In-person worship at St. Paul’s,
50 East Plumstead Avenue, Lansdowne

How will we do this? At this time, our planned limits are few but fundamental. Here’s what we ask of you:

I have emphasized to our governing boards and staff that we don’t necessarily have all the answers, and that we will be learning as we go. (But that’s also a good attitude to keep, always.)

For their shared dedication and wisdom, I thank the St. Paul’s Reopening Task Force, the Beverly Hills Session, and – last, but not least – Lisa DeAngelis and Emily Greco.

Faithfully in Christ,
Art Tung

Resources

I have found many helpful materials over the past year. Here are some of the most recent. Many, you will notice, are focused on singing – which, after all, covers a multitude of concerns.

ELCA — “Care-filled Worship and Sacramental Life in a Lingering Pandemic”
The United Methodist Church — The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments
“Covid Updates – Congregational Song” (The Center for Congregational Song, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada)
“What COVID-19 Means for Singing in Church” (Webster Grove Presbyterian Church, St. Louis)
“An update on singing during COVID-19” (Virginia Conference, United Methodist Church)