Dear Heartlanders,

I give thanks to God each day for your discipleship and faithfulness as we have journeyed through the wilderness of Coronavirus this past year. You made the sacrifice of not meeting in-person for worship to not only safeguard yourselves and your family, but to protect our communities from further spread of the virus. Your amazing Elders and Deacons have been thoughtful, creative, and intentional about being the church even as we cannot meet in person. As we begin to see glimpses of the promised land, your church leadership is taking steps to transition back to in-person worship. They have formed a Covid Transitions Task Force to help guide the session in making the decisions necessary to when and how we will have in-person worship safely.

The challenges of addressing this question are particularly fraught these days. In many ways, the decision to not have in-person worship was clearer when this all began. Now, with the good news of declining infections and rising vaccinations, we must discern what metrics indicate a safe enough time for worshipping in-person together. The importance of not stopping and starting in-person worship depending on rising and falling cases is paramount for our community. When we go back, we would like it to be fully and completely without fear and based on the science most readily available to us.

To be clear, even when we will go back to in-person worship, we will have available to the community our live online worship. Heartland has been streaming its services live for many years and one of the gifts to our church is the quality of our cameras and microphones along with the expertise of members and staff to make this as engaging as possible. When we do go back to worship onsite, you will have the choice, depending on your comfort level, to engage in worship online rather than in-person.

The Covid Transitions Task Force would like your input. We encourage you to take our online survey so we may have a sense of where you are in discerning your own participation in the coming months. Also feel free to contact members of the Task Force (Eden Pearson, Micah Rayner, Ronnie Stalker, Paul Volker, Pastor Alex) to communicate any questions or concerns.

Even as we discern this important next step, with the improving weather, the church is planning various possibilities for getting back to in-person events such as resuming our Sunday Evening Jazz Concerts in the parking lot as early as April. We encourage you to participate when and where you feel comfortable.

We are close Brothers and Sisters to being the church in body as well as Spirit. Let us be patient and continue to care for each other in this time of transition.

Grace & Peace,
Rev. P. Alex Thornburg