Dear Plymouth Church,
As we approach the Christmas season at Plymouth, we continue to address what it means to be a church of radical hospitality while still confronting a global pandemic. The arc of our hospitality is twofold — extending welcome and hope while simultaneously taking actions that safeguard community health. Our policies have responsibly shifted throughout the pandemic due to new data and safety recommendations. Although these changes might have felt too sudden or too slow, every action has ultimately been considered the best course of action for Plymouth.
After multiple conversations and meetings with church leaders and health advisors, I’m writing to inform you of worshipping protocols that will begin this week and as we approach Christmas. We’re addressing these standards now so that you have time to make the best decisions for your household:
- Masks continue to be required for all services, events, and special programs at Plymouth.
- Air-circulation measures continue in the Sanctuary, with complete air exchange occurring three times per hour.
- Pews will no longer be roped off in the Sanctuary. With this change, we request that you practice hospitality with those sitting near you — kindly check in with your neighbor and default to social distancing unless you’ve had a conversation with the person sitting next to you about their comfort level, which might be similar or different from your own.
- Livestreaming will continue for Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and for the 5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. Christmas Eve services.
- Overflow space will be staffed with a pastor in Greenwood for the 5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. Christmas Eve services. This overflow space will have designated seating areas that incorporate social distancing conditions.
In reviewing these policies, Plymouth is taking a three-tiered approach to Christmas Eve: three livestream offerings (5 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m.), four mask-required services (5 p.m., 9 p.m., and 11 p.m. in the Sanctuary and 7 p.m. in Waveland), and three socially distanced overflow options with masks required (5 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.).
I want to thank the Plymouth staff, the Executive Committee, and the Health and Safety Committee for their ongoing efforts and timely feedback. No decision has been taken lightly, and we acknowledge that various preferences and risks remain. Our collective desire is for Plymouth to be a place of both welcome and wisdom.
On a more personal note, I’m writing this update while our oldest two children are getting their second Covid vaccination (still waiting for our youngest to be vaccine-eligible). As my daughter headed out the door this morning, she exclaimed, “I can hardly believe it — we’ve been waiting for this moment for almost two years!” Whether your household is having this conversation or a different one, let’s continue to ask what it means for us to all take responsible and loving actions.
With gratitude for you all,
Rev. Dr. Jared Wortman