Dear Bethesda Family,

The evening news these days focuses on “re-opening” the country with images of politicians issuing new directives and of people dining once again in restaurants. Naturally, folks are asking what this next phase of the pandemic looks like at Bethesda. People want to know when we are “re-opening.”

The Episcopal Church approaches these decisions with great care and bases changes in our practices on solid, scientific data. More importantly, we prioritize caring for all and ensuring that our churches are safe places to go. This means that we will not base our decisions solely on the governmental loosening of restrictions.

Our Diocese has written thoughtful guidelines to this pandemic response based on the concept of seasons. We have been and still are in season 1, and at some point in the next several weeks or so, we might possibly move into season 2. Both the metrics to determine that change in seasons and the requirements and precautions required are presented in the document below. Please look these over, as these will be what we follow at Bethesda. These guidelines established by our Bishop and other diocesan officials lead us in a faithful way forward.

As you look these over, you will see that, even in this next Season 2, our in-person programs and ministries are quite limited. In fact, we plan to continue our daily 11:00 worship online for the foreseeable future. If and when we add an in-person service, the first service we hold will be an Evening Prayer service on Saturdays.

We know that you are longing, as we are, to be together in our sacred space, sharing in our transcendent, sacramental worship. To be sure, we will see that come about, though not as quickly as we would prefer. But in the meantime, God draws us together and gives us strength to be on this unprecedented journey as the Body of Christ. The bond of God’s life-saving love that we share runs both deep and strong at Bethesda, and the bond keeps us together even when we are unable physically to be together. Our online community is growing and thriving and will continue to do so. If you haven’t yet joined us online, we urge you to give it a try. Because we need each other and our God. We need each other in worship and prayer, even when we are apart.

God can and will see us through this pandemic, and we will be stronger for our perseverance and commitment to our shared life of faith at Bethesda. We look forward to seeing you online soon.