"Hybrid" is a word that we've grown accustomed to hearing over the years to refer to anything from agriculture to cars to now models of education during the COVID-19 epidemic. "Hybrid worship" is a thing now as well, where we can unite those attending worship online with those in the sanctuary in real time for a shared worship experience.
Jesus promised that wherever two or three are gathered, he will be with us. Over the months we've discovered how the Holy Spirit is present and unites us in online worship, and we are blessed to have the technology to bring this experience back into the sanctuary.
As I have said repeatedly, this is not the grand re-opening where everything returns to normal. This is a new normal that we have to live with for now and very likely well into 2021. COVID-19 is now everywhere and we have to live our lives accordingly until there is a vaccine.
Worship that is livestreamed online is here to stay for Salem - that is not going to go away. For now our sanctuary will be set up with the idea that most of the folks are attending online. When the time comes that we can be in the sanctuary in larger numbers again, we will configure the camera, screens, and operator station in a way that is less obstructive.
Even if we were not online for our worship services, certain changes are in place as a result of COVID-19. The projection of the service order on the screens is a necessity now as we are not printing bulletins. A time will come again when we can combine the use of a printed bulletin with the screen. Seating is marked off in a way that allows for social distancing. Depending on the number of people in the sanctuary, you might not be able to sit in your favorite spot, but you should be able to be in the same general area. For communion we will use wafer/juice packets on a central table to be picked up before the service begins and self-distributed in the pew. Coming forward for communion will not happen for quite a while.
If you are comfortable staying home and attending via Zoom, please continue to do so. If you long to be present in the sanctuary, or if you are simply curious, you are welcome to attend. Please bring a mask as they are required and your own cushion to sit on if you desire.