A Letter from Pastor Brent on In-Person Worship

Dear FBCR Community,

            I want you to know how proud I am of you. These last few weeks have introduced pains and stresses the stories of which will be told for generations. Even the least impacted among us have had their lives drastically changed during this pandemic and others have experienced loss or change that will be with them long after the pandemic ends. Through all of this you have clung to each other for support and care. We may be physically apart from one another, but the FBCR family is as close as ever. That isn’t a natural response to such a time, it requires intentionality and work. I’m grateful that you have all invested so heavily in this community.

            Because you have invested so heavily it is natural that you would begin to wonder when we will be able to be back together in person to worship and go about church life. The Church Council and I have met to consider this question. In so doing we have taken evidence-based facts about the spread of the Corona Virus into account and have weighed that information against the values of FBCR. Among these values we have included a commitment to radical inclusion of all people, a high value on the wellbeing and health of all people that begins with the most vulnerable, and a non-sacramental view of Christian worship to name a few.

            During these conversations the Church Council affirmed the importance of our time spent together in person to the wellbeing of the congregation, members thereof, and the wider community. We agreed unanimously that we would like to resume worship and other activities together as soon as we can do so while assuring the safety of all who wish to be part. Based on the best information available to us at the time, we believe being together in large groups remains a threat to all persons and particularly to those who are vulnerable to Covid-19 and likely will be so until at least this Fall.

            This risk is set against a surprising reality – the richness of our online worship experiences and depth of relationship made possible by technology. Though we all prefer in-person gatherings, technology has proven its worthiness in helping us sustain community. For these reasons we believe that relying on such technology for worship and gatherings through the summer months is our most prudent choice. While we have not designated a particular date to resume in-person gatherings it is unlikely that we will be physically together on campus through the months of June, July, or August.

            To state the obvious, this developing reality is not one that any of us would choose, but there is good reason rooted in the values and mission of FBCR to proceed with caution. I pray that the disappointment we all feel in the lengthening of our time apart will be countered by a sense of purpose and joy as we put our theology into practice by caring for and protecting the most vulnerable members of our wider community. I’m proud of you FBCR. I miss you, but I’m proud of you. I’ll see you “in church” in the weeks ahead and before we know it we’ll be back together at 175 Allens Creek. Until then, remain well and don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any kind of help or presence for you.

God’s Peace.

Rev. Brent Bowden

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