Dear John Wesley Family and Friends,
For the past 3 weeks, we have been in the Sanctuary for in-person worship, and I must admit, it is very different than pre-COVID worship. The worship experience has been limited for the 9:00 am Traditional Service to ensure a super safe environment, and the 11:30 am United Service features a mix of Traditional and Modern-style worship. As we designed both services, we fully understood they would not be perfect for all who attended. One of the big concerns the church leaders had in offering in-person sanctuary worship was that Post-Covid worship looks, feels, and sounds different. Thank you for all your feedback about the services. We are using it to make tweaks and future decisions.
I would like to address some important issues that have come up from our in-person sanctuary services. We know many who were worshipping with us outside are not comfortable coming inside, and this is totally understandable, but I want you to know you are missed! Second, we have added a backdrop to the chancel area to cover up the empty choir loft. We did this because our online worship experience remains essential and the backdrop serves as a visual enhancer. It is temporary and will not be a part of traditional worship services once the choir is back in the loft. It is very sad that Covid-19 has caused our choir ministry to be put on hold. (I would much rather have a full choir loft than a backdrop!) Until we are able to have our choir back in our services, we will continue to work on the best visual for in-person and online worshippers. Third, we know the 9:00 am service is a limited experience. Over time, we hope congregational singing will be included in this time. The 11:30 am service is a unification of Modern and Traditional styles, which does not please everyone. Our modern people do not have their own service option but continue to make the best of the United style. For many, this is a blessing to have a mix of worship styles offered during a service. There is probably no better time to find ourselves unified in worship than the present time.
There is one very important thing I would like to say to the JW Family. I know as a pastor the worship services look, feel and sound different. I know for our traditional-style worshippers, the chancel area looks and feels different. This is the COVID-19 reality we face as a church. John Wesley remains committed to traditional and modern worship styles, and our challenges are limited time, resources and safety protocols on Sunday morning. I ask you to pray for your pastors, church staff, and volunteers who serve in the worship ministries. We know we cannot please everyone, but we hold everyone in high regard and want to please our Lord and Savior Jesus with powerful and dynamic worship. As the world returns to the new normal, we as a church will do the same. Will everything be the exactly same as it was pre-COVID? Probably not, but in time, the look, feel, and sound of our in-person sanctuary worship will begin to be more like it was in the past. I would be the first to say “Amen” to that.
We find ourselves in a new day and time. This is our reality and I do not always like that reality, but I do love seeing your faces and worshipping in our sanctuary. The reality for people of JW is the mission remains the same: to connect people to Jesus. The vision also remains the same: to be a dynamic assembly of Jesus followers which connects you, your next-door neighbor, and the next generation to Jesus.
Thank you for serving with me. I will see you on Sunday in person or online.
Dr. Marty Dunbar