April 29, 2021
Dear Calvary family & friends,
On March 12, 2020 I wrote a letter to you that I never in my wildest dreams imagined writing as a pastor – our ministry would be moving completely online and our building would be closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Citing information from CDC, WHO, and local/national leadership, I shared that there could be no gatherings over 50 people (which soon changed to 10) and I tried to explain the term “social distancing” and how that would help us “flatten the curve.” We learned how to properly wash our hands, googled the pros and cons of wiping down our groceries, and began making masks out of old t-shirts. Naïvely hopeful and completely ignorant of what was to come, I suggested that we might be able to re-open the building and gather three weeks later on Palm Sunday, but that we would keep watching the science as we made decisions.
What a trip down memory lane, right?! It’s incredible to think how much we know now that we didn’t know then, even as there are still so many mysteries to COVID-19. How grateful we are to the medical researchers and scientists who so quickly developed a vaccine. And how grateful I am to you, Calvary, for being so resilient, adaptable, and supportive during this pandemic year. And how incredibly grateful I am to our staff and volunteers for creating ways to keep us all connected.
Almost 14 months later, I’m finally able to write you the letter I’ve been wanting to write for many months. Per our Council vote on April 21, we will begin worshipping in-person in June! On Sunday, June 6 we invite you to join us in the sanctuary for morning worship at 10:30 a.m. (MDT) or in the chapel for The Gathering at 5:00 p.m. (MDT). Both of those services will be livestreamed and accessible on our You Tube Channel for those who live outside of metro-Denver, are unable to come to worship, or who are not yet ready to gather with others in-person.
Our staff is already making preparations for in-person worship, and in mid-to-late May we’ll communicate what you can expect in terms of safety measures and guidelines. What I can tell you is that Denver is expected to be in the Clear Zone, which means we would be able to gather without distancing or restrictions on activities such as singing/coffee hour. If we have a city/county mask mandate, masks will be required; if there is no mask mandate, they will not be required. As we have done all year, we will follow the recommendations of our local officials; we appreciate your flexibility if those guidelines change. Also, several have asked about a vaccination requirement. Please note: Vaccination is not required to enter Calvary’s building nor can we ask people if they are vaccinated because of HIPAA. We are grateful that many in our Calvary community are vaccinated and if anyone needs help scheduling a vaccine appointment – you may contact Ian Fletcher (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We will be taking a gradual approach to re-opening the building and continue with a hybrid form of ministry this summer as we still want to exercise caution and do our part to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Here are the key items you need to know:
• You may attend Sunday worship at 10:30 a.m. or 5:00 p.m. (MT) in-person or via livestream; information about nursery care will be forthcoming.
• We will not have church school or forums this summer, however we will host a coffee hour/time of connection before worship (10:00 a.m.) for all ages.
• Tuesday Midweek Gatherings will continue on Zoom (which will be the equivalent of our Sunday forum time).
• Youth and adult small groups or classes may meet offsite, online, or onsite. Every group needs to contact Lori Grohskopf (email@example.com) if you want to meet in the building – even if you used to have a standing time/day/location pre-pandemic. The calendar was cleared last year, so all groups need to reserve space for their groups, whether one time or recurring.
• Some special events are in the works, including Vacation Bible School, which will happen in August.
• The Church Office will be open two days a week this summer, staffed by three volunteer shifts. Stay tuned for more information about this in mid-to-late May.
• While there is so much hope to be able to gather in person together inside, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. As a community that is Open to All, Closed to None, we will do everything we can to create an environment where all who choose to worship in-person are easily able communicate their comfort level to others – perhaps through a color code indicator on nametags (Ex: GREEN = okay with standing close and hugging/handshakes, YELLOW = okay with standing close, but no hugging/handshakes, RED = please keep 6 ft+ distance and no hugs/handshakes).
I want to thank you again, Calvary, for prioritizing “love of neighbor” throughout this year. As I wrote over a year ago:
When the religious leaders of his day asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, he told them it was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” He then added that the second greatest commandment is like the first: to “love your neighbor as yourself.” As a community of faith whose mission is to “be a Christ-like community that experiences and shares God’s love”, we frame our actions and decisions by these two commandments.
We are so glad that we can gather in person to “love God” as we worship, and we will continue to “love our neighbor” by doing our part to protect our community as so many are still suffering from the devastating effects of this pandemic.
Looking forward to the “sweet, sweet Spirit” and the “sweet expressions on each face” as we gather in June,