Some of you have been anxiously awaiting the day when GPC will open its campus once again for in person worship. Others have indicated that you will not return to public worship for a long time. Survey results were quite mixed, which was expected. Also, after speaking with many of you after you took the survey, you indicated you would have responded differently to the survey just days later due to another uptick in positive cases.
Generally, results indicate that it continues to be a challenging season for all of us. We must remain flexible and gracious. The ongoing threat of the Covid-19 global pandemic will require that when we do return to the church campus, we do so in a way that is measured and mindful. Our highest priorities will continue to be, keeping congregants safe, remaining connected, and being responsible and loving neighbors to the community in which we live.
GPC has a dedicated team of members who meet regularly, working diligently to prepare GPC for the day when we can reopen our campus for in-person worship services. There are many considerations we have taken such as state and local rules, guidelines, and regulations. We also follow CDC and WHO recommendations and guidance for religious organizations regarding reopening and safe operations. We want to follow the most reliable scientific and medical authorities available to us.
Additionally, each congregation must look at its unique demographics, the particular worship spaces, the available technology, the workforce, and the desire of its congregants to worship in person. Just because a church opens down the street does not mean it is the soundest option for GPC to do so as well. Therefore, our team and our Session have been taking into account numerous factors when working toward reopening. We have one team ensuring that our campus is a safe and welcoming space for those who do choose to attend. We have another team upgrading our technology in order to livestream worship services so that those who worship from home can remain connected. We have a Session that is prayerful and considerate of all factors. I am thankful for the hard work of everyone involved in the process.
Session voted to begin meeting on campus for in person worship beginning August 23, 2020. Until that time, we will continue providing a virtual pre-recorded service and our campus will remain closed. Once we begin meeting in person, we will no longer have a pre-recorded virtual service. We will livestream the in-person (courtyard) service on Sunday mornings. It will be a shorter service and will include safety measures, which will be outlined in a future correspondence. We will proceed with this schedule as it is reasonable and safe to do so, provided that data in Santa Barbara County is acceptable to CDC guidelines for reopening. There will be no gatherings, practices, or studies on the church campus until August 23rd. The campus will remain closed.
Thank you for your patience, faithfulness, and trust in your church leadership. It is not easy to make such difficult decisions in the midst of challenging times. As I have said repeatedly, God continues to be at work and there are many silver linings in this process for GPC. Our hope will continue to rest in God's steadfast love.
Pastor Jim Pazan