Dear Riviera Family,
It is my hope that everyone 16 years and over who is reading this letter is vaccinated. Vaccinations are readily available, and we wait for the day when ‘herd immunity’ is reached and we can meet without the many COVID precautions that must still be in place. It is not a political statement but the responsible and loving thing to do to ensure that not just you and your loved ones, but all of God’s children, can be healthy. As of now, there are no vaccinations for the youngest children, so it is even more imperative that we vaccinate ourselves to protect them.
I remember as a child my mother getting all six of us kids in the car and driving us down to the location where the sugar cubes with the polio vaccine were being given out. I thank God my mother and your parents and grandparents knew that despite a small risk of any vaccination, it was the right and responsible thing to do. They grew up with the anxiety of contracting polio and did not want us to live with the same fear or actuality of it. We must do the same.
And, because the vaccine is now readily available, the Session can begin to think about how and when the in-person component to worship will return. As I write this letter, the sanctuary is being prepared for that day. Not just the organ repair is going on, BUT television screens and cameras are being installed so that we will be able to worship together as an online and in-person congregation. Whether your presence is online or in-person, we will even be able to interact with each other throughout the worship service, at Holy Grounds, during Bible Study and other Christian Educational offerings, and even during all our fellowship events. It might take us a while to learn to use all this technology and equipment in a seamless manner, but we learned to be an online church and now we will learn to be this new hybrid model. The worship committee is taking the task of preparing for a return to the in-person option seriously and will have COVID precautions in place for the safety of those who do physically want to be at the building.
I hope you have noticed how carefully I am writing this. When I speak of worship and the church, I am trying not to use ‘physical space words’ that create boundaries. We have learned this past year that church is not a building and that whatever mixture of ways we are together, we are the church. Christ has called us to be an open and inclusive church and to break down the barriers which have separated us before. And we have worked hard at being inclusive. And now God has challenged us to break down the barrier of space using new technologies that have developed in the past decade.
It is an exciting challenge. God continues to call us and together as the Riviera Family and together we will be the embodiment of Christ.
Embodying Love, Demanding Justice, and Transforming the World.
In peace and love,
The Rev. Martha M. Shiverick