You’ve heard Rev. Laura for (at least?) the last 5 weeks remind you how we are still in the Easter season, that no matter what the calendar or what the retail stores tell you, the season of Easter, the season of celebrating new life in God’s world, continues long past Resurrection Sunday. As Christians we know this to be true no matter what, but we especially know this to be true this week as we are pleased to announce the next step in our “COVID journey as a faith community.”
Beginning on Sunday, May 9th all who wish to return to in-person worship at Overland Park Christian Church are invited to do so. Your worship experience will of course be very different from what it was in February 2020, and there are many steps you must take before returning to the building, but we celebrate this movement as we continue to live in community with and for one another.
Johnson County continues to be in “the substantial spread zone,” according to the CDC and while many of us are vaccinated (thank you!) scientists and health experts are still concerned about community spread, particularly for those unable to be vaccinated, like children and youth. OPCC’s transition to in-person experiences does not change the danger of this virus, its increasing variants, or your own personal risk factors.
While the staff will focus its energy on in-person worship, the livestream video on our website and our Facebook page will absolutely continue. However, it will look quite different than the quality we have witnessed over the last 13 months. We are still waiting on our new live-streaming cameras (two!) and equipment to be installed. Many pieces of technology all around the world, including our cameras, are experiencing a supply shortage, and so we are at the mercy of that availability and schedule. We have been told several times that we can expect these cameras at the end of May. Until then we will continue with the livestreaming equipment that we used for several years up through our move to virtual worship in March 2020. We will still provide the best quality product that we are able and will continue to work with the technology to bring a life-giving worship experience to all who worship, whether virtually or in-person.
In addition to the grace necessary surrounding our technology schedule, significant grace and commitment to community is required for any who are returning to the building for worship or fellowship of any kind. Returning to in-person community requires a covenant of behavior that keeps all of God’s children safe, and does not leave anyone behind. When any of us begin to participate regularly in a faith community, we take on a certain covenant with one another, to respect and love one another the way Christ teaches us. We celebrate this unspoken covenant of behavior each and every time we share in communion. Returning to in-person faith experiences in the midst of a still ongoing global pandemic means we are engaging in an expanded covenant with one another. Your OPCC Returning Committee has continued to investigate best practices and has developed a covenant of behavior, along with important procedures and protocols that we ALL must follow while at OPCC.
Even if the county or city officials change mandates to recommendations, Overland Park Christian Church will continue to act in the best interest for all of God’s beloved, including our children and families who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated. In 2014, OPCC embarked on a visioning process to identify the vision we have for “being church” in the world, identifying the values by which we follow our mission to live as God’s love in this world. In this visioning process, we all talked extensively about our commitment to youth, young adults, children, and families, and so we continue to keep them at the forefront of our safety practices (like required mask-wearing) as we return to in-person fellowship and worship.
The scripture on May 2 is from John 15:1-8: “abide with me.” We are excited to abide with one another in new ways that we have missed these last 13 months. We have discerned, and will continue to discern best practices to continue keeping our entire community safe, and give thanks for your willingness to participate in these best practices for the life and health of the entire Body of Christ.
Please know that however you worship with us in coming weeks, you have been in our prayers, and you remain the prayers of the entire staff, our officers, elders, and deacons. Please remember: We belong to God, and we belong to one another. Our ministry will continue to reflect this.
Blessings of grace and peace,
Rev. Laura Ann Phillips, Rev. Chuck Pickrel
and The Leadership of Overland Park Christian Church
Pat Gilling (Board 2018-2021)
Theresa Krebs (Board 2019-2022)
Terri Bookless (Board 2019-2022)
David Collins (Board 2020-2023)
Sue Elliott (Board 2021 & Returning Comm.)
Dr. Kathy Kinder (Returning Comm.)
Maggie Noel (Returning Comm.)
Mike McLain (Returning Comm.)
Lois Wimpey (Returning Comm.)
Barb Collins (Returning Comm.)
Mary Beth Boucher (Returning Comm.)