Reopening Plans and the Survey results
The Bishop has said that we will be able to enter 'Phase 3' at the beginning of August if the coronavirus numbers continue to go in the right direction. They haven't been looking so great for the last week and so there is a distinct possibility that he will push this back to the beginning of September instead. We will know at the end of next week - but either way we need to start planning for what it will look like when we come back in person. In phase 2 churches are only allowed 25 people at once, and the vestry does not want to restrict access to worship so is keen to wait until that restriction is lifted before we resume offering in person worship.
To help us with this planning we sent out a survey last week, and I'm really pleased to say that we had 214 responses (many of which represent several people in a household) which is excellent.
The headline news is that 75% of you are not yet ready to come back to an in person service in church even were we to provide one, although 20% of you would come to a service outdoors. Most of you are planning to remain home whether worship is indoors or outdoors.
I've had conversations with quite a few people who are very keen that our livestream continues and continues to be personal and engaging. This is reflected by the numbers of you who want the livestream to continue just as it is rather than being a stream of an in-person service. We are likely to continue to have the livestream at a prime time in the morning, and keep that service 'livestream first' even while offering people the opportunity to attend it in person.
There was quite some interest in people being offered the opportunity to come to an Evensong service and so we will be planning to offer that as a weekly service from the Sunday after Labor Day and we will see how many people will come to that. There were also a significant number of households interested in a shorter, family friendly liturgy - and so we will also plan on offering that following Labor Day.
If we're allowed to open in August, we will add an outdoor service at 9am which will be a traditional rite II service. The livestream will continue at 10:30am. The protocols from the Diocese require mask wearing, social distancing and no singing. So it will be a slightly odd gathering, but it will be good for those who are comfortable gathering in person to be able to gather.
From the Sunday after Labor Day (September 13th) we will want to add an additional morning service of about 30 minutes especially for families, since we are strongly encouraged not to run in-person Sunday School for children. To do this, we will move the 9am and 10:30am service half an hour earlier, so the provisional schedule for a Sunday will be:
8:30am Rite II service - outdoors; moving indoors in case of rain
10:00am Livestream service from church; parishioners welcome to attend in person but will be unable to join in the singing
11:30am Family Liturgy - outdoors; moving indoors in case of rain; finished by noon; all welcome
5:00pm Evensong in church - music led by the quartet (we will also stream this)
Do pray for us as we plan for these various different services; please continue to support and love one another in these strange times. Details of the survey responses follow.
Summary of the survey responses
Only 25% of those who responded would come back to a service in church were we to reopen. A further 20% would come to an outdoor service, but most respondents (55%) will continue to remain at home.
This should encourage us to look seriously at an outdoor offering, and also to have no worries about the capacity of the building indoors for any indoor offering we make available - there just won't be that many people in attendance.
A lot of people were interested in an afternoon Evensong service. I think this means that we should go ahead with planning for that from the Fall kickoff.
A good number of people were interested in a shorter service with a liturgy and talk that were designed to be more 'family friendly'. They would prefer that in the morning.
People struggle most with missing contact with family and friends, with missing church and fellowship and with social isolation.
People's silver linings were mostly to do with a slower pace of life and the opportunity to connect with members of their family more deeply. Many people also appreciated online church and felt that their spiritual lives had grown in this time.
Detail of the Survey
There were 214 responses
Asked would you come back to in person worship:
55% (121) said they would continue to worship at home
20% (44) said they would only come back to outdoor worship
25% (54) said they would come back to worship in church
Of those continuing to stay at home, 67% (74) were high risk and 33% (36) low risk
Of those who'd come back to outdoor worship, 36% (12) were high risk and 64% (21) low risk
Of those who would come back to worship in church, 41% (20) were high risk and 59% (29) low risk
75 said they would be interested in coming to an afternoon Evensong
31 said they would be interested in a shorter 'family friendly' liturgy
Of those, 16 would prefer the morning, 6 the afternoon and 7 would happily do either
Of those who will continue to worship at home:
52% (58) did not mind whether than continued to be like the current livestream or was a stream of in person worship - even if that were not as well suited for livestream
32% (36) wanted the livestream offering to remain like it is
16% (18) felt it important that we streamed the in person service
14 people would like a Zoom small group and 12 people an in person small group
Although, half of the Zoom responses and 5 of the in person responses didn't also give us their name - so we will need to send out another email to collect interest in small groups (with names!)
Asked about Changes and Challenges in this time:
46 were missing contact with family and friends
38 were missing in person worship and contact with their church family
24 were struggling with isolation and the restrictions on movement
11 were struggling with change and uncertainty
9 were negatively affected by the news - global uncertainty, politics etc...
6 struggled with work - either loss of work, or the change of work
5 responses did not readily fit one of the above groups (a complaint about the Bishop, "no real problems", missing John and Marcia in worship, lack of communication, depression)
Asked about Silver Linings:
34 appreciated the slowing of pace, lack of commute, ability to be outdoors more, get projects done etc...
32 appreciated more time with the family and better relationships with children and spouses
23 appreciated our online Sunday worship and mid week Reading, Reflection and Prayer (and an additional 3 appreciated the ability to access other church's online offerings as well)
14 felt that their spiritual life had improved over this time
13 appreciated keeping in touch with family and friends over Zoom/phone
8 mentioned the Virtual VBS, Zoom small groups or the coffee hour
7 were grateful to God for their blessings
4 mentioned their ability to serve the church in some way (2 of these in the Food Closet)
3 were grateful or their health, or testing negative for Covid
2 were able to worship with a relative who would not otherwise have come to church
5 responses did not readily group with another (Neighborliness, Meeting outside church with other believers, Ability to pay bills, Cooking all meals from own kitchen, Feeling safe at home)
1) A response may represent the views of a whole household. Some households will be responsible for more than one response.
2) Percentages are rounded to nearest percent. So they may not always add up to 100.
3) The breakdown of high risk/ low risk is based on responses where there was only one answer to the question will you come back in person / outdoors / stay at home. Where household had more than one answer to that question those were fed into the breakdown for whether they would come back to in person worship but the reasons for putting more than one response here are tricky to interpret (you might be an individual and feel split in your opinion) so they are not factor in the split between high and low risk people.