Dear Prince of Peace Community and Family,
8 weeks ago, the Prince of Peace faith community was suddenly thrust into a new online world of worship, 8x8 meetings, and virtual Bible studies. Our staff moved their work off campus and the doors of our site have been shuttered for the sake of the shelter in place directive. Over these past 8 weeks, we have been inspired by our musicians who sing and record their art, for Michael Touchi and the amazing ways that his music still reaches through screens and touches our hearts, for our phenomenal tech team who have cut, scrubbed, and done other technical magic to keep us engaged by the efforts that come from our many speakers and musicians. I have also personally been lifted in spirit by participating in online gatherings where the vulnerability of seeing one another’s homes and faces without Hollywood lighting makes it seem like we are almost in the same space. We’ve been touched by the laughter that comes when our youth gather regularly online in confirmation class and with Drew, the videos the high school seniors have produced, and the numerous times I have heard that “so-and-so” from church just called me the other day. As a faith community you all have risen to the occasion in such beautiful ways; perhaps in ways you never expected nor wanted to. ☺
As I (Pr. Sara) mentioned in my sermon on Sunday, and as you may guess with the reality of COVID19 and its presence in Santa Clara County, we as your staff and council leadership are in agreement that we will not be able to gather in large groups until it is lawful and safe. Currently, we have little information from the Santa Clara county health department about when we will be able to gather in groups of 30-35 or beyond. We respect the SCCHD decisions and know that they are basing the lessening of restrictions on scientific data and the safety of us all. We share those priorities: the safety and well-being of our church community and the wider community your lives touch. Thus, until we have word from the Santa Clara County health department concerning the legality and safety of gathering in groups of 30 or more, we will continue to do online worship only. It is our aim to make worship participatory, engaging, and inclusive of as many voices as possible while still maintaining the timelines necessary to produce a good “product.”
I deeply understand just how difficult it is to not be able to see one another in person, to worship together, and to do many of the things that help us feel connected to God and one another. But it is in these kinds of stressful and uncertain times that our faith can be a rock and stronghold for us. While we all wait, we will continue to offer creative and unique ways to engage one another with online groups, weekly online Bible Study, weekly online theology pub, and pastoral care calls. When it is deemed safe we will also be opening up campus and open air meeting spaces for small group gatherings. Again, we have no estimate on a timeframe for this.
I assure you, once we have clear guidance from the county and state, we will utilize our creativity and love for one another in planning worship and gatherings that are safe for all who feel comfortable enough to attend. This is not the time to take risks (as we have seen with numerous news stories on churches and faith communities who have disobeyed gathering restrictions and ended up with many ill and infected). And also be assured that the resumption of activities on campus will not end our online activities. Each of us must make our own decisions about when we feel comfortable with gatherings on campus. Prince of Peace will make all our events as available to those at home as we possibly can. As always, if you have any input on ways we can be a vital and loving presence to one another, please reach out to us.
In the meantime, as we live into this liminal space, we will also offer up ways to connect with and care for our neighbor. Many of our neighbors are in need due to the financial crisis and sudden shift in how we live. Even if we can’t worship together, we can still continue in our acts of love and justice for those around us from the safety of our own homes. I commend to you the section in our E-notes titled, “Connections to Neighbors.”
I will close these words reminding you that we are here for one another in this strange time. We are grateful for the commitment you have shown to this community and to your neighbors. May the curiosity of this time in our lives be that our physical distance means that we find ourselves being connected even more closely to God and to one another.
Pr. Sara and Pr. Nate