June, 2021

Dear Riviera Family,

15 months ago, the world changed when we realized we were living in a worldwide pandemic. New COVID protocols were put in place and things we took for granted…. worshipping together in the sanctuary of our church, Thursday Night Choir Dinners, First Sunday Lunches, Theology Uncorked at the Titanic Restaurant…. were all put on hold. We were frightened. Were we safe? Were we living in some funky chapter of Revelation? We needed the church to be there in our time of uncertainty. How would we keep our community together and care for each other and continue our missions given the restraints combating the spread of the virus put on us?

We developed a model of including as many people as possible in videos for Sunday so we all felt a part of the church and well, it worked! New members joined (some from out of town!), we learned to create a worship service by sending Robbie Adams videos of ourselves leading worship and singing and even playing the Ukulele. We also learned that we could do things over the internet that we could not do in person and it allowed all ages of people from all over our country to actively participate in both Christian Education and worship. We even found a way that the Sacrament of Communion could be the spiritual community meal it is intended to be. And, no one had to travel to an evening meeting as ZOOM became a way of life.

And then we began to realize that when the physical distancing guidelines were eased, we never were going to return to what was…. the freedom that the internet provided us was here to stay. So… even when we say with SUCH GREAT JOY that we are going back to in-person worship on June 6th, we will also be worshipping over the internet via ZOOM and a live streamed service. In the weeks ahead, we will morph into a hybrid model where whether you are physically in the church sanctuary or worshipping over ZOOM, you can be a liturgist and attend Holy Grounds. We will be able to still use videos but will also be able to actively participate in church and church programs and meetings on line as well. God has a new plan and a new way for us to be the church.

This is to say we are evolving. We have the equipment and capability to make our hybrid model work, it just entails a great deal of on the job training. So, first…. if you are a person who likes to work with visual and sound equipment, we have a great volunteer job for you. Please become a part of the team that will make this all happen.
And, I look forward to seeing you on both ZOOM and in person in the coming weeks and to help move Riviera into the church God is now calling us to be.

In Christ and in love,
The Rev. Martha M. Shiverick

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