FRAMINGHAM – The Church Council at Edwards Church on Tuesday night unanimously voted to hold their “Sunday morning worship services remotely throughout the summer. We will not worship in person in the sanctuary this summer.”
“I woke up Wednesday morning feeling a profound sense of loss that these things won’t be happening in the near future,” wrote Rev. Debbie Clark to the congregation on Thursday.
“It was a painful decision, and it is a faithful decision. As we have learned more about COVID-19, we have realized how dangerous it is for a group of people to gather in an enclosed space, talking, singing and greeting one another. We are also aware that a large proportion of people in our congregation fall into one of the “high risk groups” who are urged to continue to shelter in place. Our decision is our own—based on input from our congregational small-group gatherings, a recommendation from the staff, and Council’s discernment. Our decision also aligns with the guidance of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ,” Rev. Clark wrote.
“My own clarity came when I tried to imagine what it would be like to return to worship in our sanctuary in the near future. We would be missing at least a third of our congregation. That would feel awful, at odds with our commitment to being an inclusive community. We would not be able to sing. We would not be able to come within six feet of each other. We would not be able to have coffee hour, or even stand around and catch up. It would potentially be dangerous, and it wouldn’t feel like church,” wrote Rev. Clark.
“In these last two months, we have learned a lot about what it means to be church. We have discovered we can connect in surprising ways: through the imperfect miracle of technology, through cards, phone calls and waves from across the street. We have enjoyed music we have made over the years, and are making new music for this time. We are praying for one another, sharing concerns and celebrations through a chat function. We are reading books together, sharing inspiring photos, gaining appreciation for music, and using our resources to feed people who are hungry,” wrote Rev. Clark.
“In addition to my deep sadness, I also feel relief. With this decision made, we can use our creative energy to find new ways to connect, inspire and care for one another,” wrote Rev. Clark.
“I invite you to pay attention to what this decision stirs in you. Maybe sadness, anger, despair, relief, hope, creative energy, maybe something else or maybe some combination of them all. Honor whatever feelings emerge. Talk about them, with a friend from church, with a member of the staff … Stay safe, drink water, eat well, exercise, get outside if you can, pray and reach out. Zoom in to worship on Sunday morning. Know that you are not alone.,” concluded Rev. Clark.