Church Open, Building Closed

Last Tuesday, a reporter from the Arizona Daily Star sent an urgent e-mail request for an update on open/closed status of churches. Apparently they were queuing up to do a special report in Sunday’s paper. Since I wrote a piece for the Sunday “Keeping the Faith” section, which they published on April 19th, we got on their list of churches in Tucson. That’s very cool. When I got to the question about when the church/center was opening, I replied that our ‘church’ had never closed, just the building has closed. I firmly believe that.

Yes, we gather virtually on zoom. Presently, we gather for Sundays, for Wednesday night classes and for our daily morning practice. We’ve gotten better at the mechanics of doing Sunday services. We’re even up on YouTube with our own channel; other people have checked out our community and what we believe. Our stage band has been cranking out some amazing music. Most centers and churches default to canned music (YouTube videos and the like), because live music on zoom is just too hard. Our guys figured out how to do it. Leona Freeman even joined them, virtually, to sing the song she wrote, ‘Welcome to This Place’, which we have used for our opening song for the whole month of May. An old friend, Rev Lynne Heygster, guest spoke two Sundays ago from her living room in Justin Texas and in a couple weeks (June 14th) we are having a special musical guest, Bob Sima, from his home in Florida. The Music Team has wanted to bring Bob to town for years; it has not been possible, until now.

Our online meditation seminar has two participants in eastern Canada and one from Eloy AZ; we’ve had two guest facilitators, one from Las Vegas and one just left Tucson, and presently en route to Kentucky. The Prosperity Plus III mastermind group gathers twice a month. Keith Gorley’s men’s group meets virtually twice a month, and Keith starts a book study of Karen Armstrong’s 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life in less than two weeks. If you’ve never read this book, and can get a copy of it electronically, it will change your point of view about what it means to live compassionately. The Daily Practice group has been meeting steadily since the last week in March, every day except Sundays; attendance is growing. Additionally, there’s a survey further down in this newsletter soliciting interest in online classes over the summer. If you are curious, and potentially interested in participating in an upcoming class, please check out the very short survey and state your preferences.

No, it’s not the same as in person. It can’t be. We won’t be going back to the old model any time soon. The people who live far away are thrilled to hear that; that means they get to participate. There are those who, quite rightly, say that we are doing a better job of serving our community because we are more accessible to more people.

Your Board of Trustees met virtually this past week. We talked about what it would take for us to meet in person at the office next month. Given the constraints on meeting (10 people or less), we could theoretically meet in person, maintain safe distance (6′ between chairs), meet with facemasks on, & have the air handlers on high. The office would need to be wiped down, but it could be done. We could even have two guests at our board meeting, they would have to sit in an adjacent room, but they could still see and hear the discussion.

Last week the Board talked about how we identify congregants with some skill and interest in computers and videographic equipment, who also have time and interest in helping us get us set up for live-streaming when the time (finally) comes. Fortunately, there are a number of resources within CSLs around the country with expertise that are delighted to share what they have learned with us. Interested?

Yes, our center is open. If you haven’t been participating, we invite you to join us.

–Rev Janis

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