August 20 COVID-19 Advisory Task Force Update
Our church body’s spirited response to COVID gives us hope for the future and consolation as we face the prospect of several more months of physical separation.
We were fortunate to have basic online infrastructure in place before the pandemic and leaders who were quick to adapt both worship and Bible study. Recent Sunday service videos are drawing YouTube viewership on par with physical attendance in the dog days of past summers. Most of our Sunday school classes have moved to Zoom, and some are reporting higher average attendance than before the pandemic. New members are finding their way to Wilshire online services and Sunday school fellowship at about the same rate as they did last year. We’ve welcomed 27 new members since the COVID shutdown in March, which is just one fewer than the same period a year ago.
Our staff has been working to re-envision what church will be in the fall and we’re excited by what’s to come. Some near-term items include:
- Our YouTube service stream will premiere at 8:30 a.m. starting Sunday, Aug. 23, and going forward, a change recommended by a member that we hope will make virtual worship even more convenient.
- Sunday, Aug. 23, also is our annual blessing event for students and teachers. Ministers and residents will be under the porte cochère at Wilshire from 4:30 to 6 p.m. to offer prayers.
- Our first-year pastoral residents will be assigned to our long-distance (virtual) members, helping us understand their needs and pastor to them.
- The Missions Committee continues to respond to the needs of our partners and will be focusing on supporting public schools and teachers this fall.
- Our kitchen crew will be offering take-out meals on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Additional dates will be available if there’s demand.
- Carolyn Murray is leading the charge to make our Sunday YouTube worship more inviting and interactive by engaging visitors and members alike in the chat.
- Beginning Sept. 13, the children’s ministry will hold Music and Missions in the north parking lot for the first time.
- Flu shots will be available Sept. 19.
We’re thankful for all the energy and creativity that has gotten us to this point, and all the people who have contributed. Disruption of our familiar patterns has been painful. But it also is providing space for us to think about worship and fellowship from a fresh perspective. Some of the things we’re learning and experimenting with now will carry over to help our church thrive even after we’re able to congregate physically again.
Please join in our spirited response to COVID-19. Help us create the best possible “now normal” until we can get to whatever the new normal will be. What can you do? We invite you to pick two or more of the following:
- Watch Sunday services during the premiere and participate in chat. It’s OK to talk in online church!
- If your Sunday school class is meeting online, join as often as you can. If it isn’t, contact Carolyn Murray to find an online class.
- Follow Wilshire’s social channels and share our posts with your network.
- Invite friends and family to join us in worship and Sunday school. New online members tell us they identify with Wilshire because of our message and a commitment to social justice and advocacy that they haven’t found in their physical neighborhoods. Spread the word!
- Email your creative ideas for worshiping virtually or at safe distance to COVID@wilshirebc.org.
- If you’ve been spared income loss in the pandemic, give. You can help provide for others by helping our church continue its missions, keep staff employed and prepare the building for our safe return.
Finally, please wear a mask in public. There are still some unknowns about COVID-19. But it’s certain that wearing a mask in public and social distancing will help stop the spread, which will hasten the day when we can again share smiles and hugs in the Sanctuary.
We’ll continue to monitor safety conditions, plan based on the SEE principles – Safe Experience for Every Body – and keep you posted.