In December of 2020, as we approached a new year together, all of us wondered what that new year might bring. Most of us had high hopes that within a few months, we might be gathering again in our sacred spaces for worship, seeing friends face to face that we may not have seen in person since March, celebrating joyously and, probably, weeping a bit as we entered those spaces again, finally.
In an effort to help offer some hope that we would be preparing for that day, the Pastoral Team of the Open Door Churches (ODC), in consultation with the ODC Board, offered a proposal for that process. The plan addressed some of the things we knew needed to be considered as we turned our attention toward the eventual return of in-person worship. In order to make the plan more manageable, we shared it in terms of goals by “quarter”—what we hoped to accomplish in the first quarter of 2021 and what we hoped to accomplish in the second quarter.
We are happy to share that, so far, we are on track with that plan. The primary goal we identified in the first quarter was to experiment with the technology that would allow us to livestream worship, so that when we opened our spaces for the return of in-person worship, we would be able to include those for whom online worship had been a godsend. Furthermore, we have been able to expand our fellowship through online worship, opening the doors of Open Doors to people who have never been in one of our sacred spaces and allowing people to worship with us while traveling or even living in places as far away as New Zealand! Think about this: we have just recently received a request from a worshiper in Brazil who wants to become a member of the Open Door Churches! BRAZIL!
These are wonderful things, but we know that preparing for the opening of our buildings is equally as important. From here, the project grows in complexity and will require a great deal of thought, input, and care.
In order to be sure we are making thoughtful decisions together, the Pastoral Team is working with the ODC Board to hold intentional discussions that will include the opportunity for dialogue among each of our congregations and our ODC community. We do not yet have any specific plans to open our spaces and, at least at this time, we have not even been given a timeline from the OR-ID Conference as to when we will be allowed to hold in-person gatherings the size we will need to hold in order to accommodate people in our spaces.
Our first step will be to orchestrate a series of conversations during the month of April that will give us the greatest chance for broad input from all our congregations. Here are the key points of that dialogue:
- ODC “Worship Summit,” April 11: The ODC Board, with representation from each of our congregations, will hold a structured discussion about what our hopes are, what our needs are, and how we will accomplish our goals.
- Council and Leadership Meetings, third week of April: ODC Board representatives will be responsible for meeting with and discussing the ideas formulated at the Worship Summit. A dynamic dialogue will allow leaders from each congregation to bring perspectives back to the ODC Board to shape the conversation.
- ODC Board Meeting, April 26: Board reps from each congregation will bring back reports to the Board for further discussion. Some decisions about timelines and processes may be made at this meeting, if that seems possible, or it may be the decision of the Board to continue discussions.
We, the Pastoral Team, want to assure you that the process going forward will allow for input from as wide a range of perspectives as possible. But we also ask for your patience: These are completely unprecedented times and none of us knows exactly what these conversations should look like. There simply is no expert opinion to guide us in this, because no one has ever had to deal with these issue before.
We are, as Brian McLaren has so aptly suggested, making “the road by walking.” Please walk with us into this bright, bold future.
Pastor Alyssa Baker
Pastor John Fleming
Pastor Kalina Malua Katoa
Pastor Kalina Malua Katoa