Operating StatusReopening Cedar Ridge in light of COVID-19
On Friday, March 13, we closed our church building at Cedar Ridge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to comply with national, state and county guidelines, and because we take the health issues very seriously, we have been gathering online for virtual Sunday services since that time. We all deeply miss gathering in person, and are longing for the day when it will be safe to all gather together again.
Since moving into phase 2 of the Montgomery County reopening process, we’ve been able to meet in small groups outside on our property, and have chosen to comply with the county limit of 50 persons for social gatherings to maximize safety. This has meant we’ve been able to host farm nights, youth gatherings, small groups, yoga/mediation, prayer events, movie nights, and a “relaunch” event. We’ll continue with these and expand to include more events through the fall. Our goal is to provide meaningful connection for our community through opportunities to participate together in our vision while keeping safety a priority.
We all long to come back together as we did before the pandemic, but it’s really important we remain patient and follow all the guidelines. We are seeing around the country (and even around the world) how failure to take the science-based precautions seriously has very negative consequences. As a church leadership we are working with these restrictions, constantly monitoring the changing situation, and wrestling with creative ways we can move forward. This includes addressing really practical issues that make gathering in larger numbers a challenge: ensuring sanitization and safe access to bathrooms, noise and sound complications outside, weather (heat and rain), and ensuring social distancing and the wearing of masks. So we are only planning events where we are confident we can ensure all these safety measures. It’s complex, and includes the additional county-required spacing challenge of only one person per 50 square feet, so as a leadership we appreciate everyone’s patience as we journey forward.
In keeping with our vision and values, inclusivity is also a high priority. So we want to make times available together that are safe and inclusive for families with younger children as well. This means supporting parents and guardians with the challenges they face in keeping their children safely physically distanced. We also know some of us will continue to feel anxious about gathering in person, and some really ought not to because of health and age issues. So we will continue to provide various virtual connection opportunities (including racial justice encounter groups, and our Sunday services) while keeping in-person gatherings as safe and accessible as possible.
Our property is always open, so please feel free to use it informally with friends, family and small groups, while keeping all the above precautions in mind. At formal, organized Cedar Ridge events, we will have a simple check-in station where we’ll take a roll call and ask a few health-related questions. This will help us keep track of numbers and maximize safety precautions. Again, let’s all be patient and cooperative with this process.
If we continue to make progress, restrictions may be lifted further, and we will adapt accordingly. Our plan is to resume Sunday gatherings in our church building once it is safe to do so, and the restrictions are such that we are allowed to all gather as one community with no one excluded. Let’s look forward to that day with longing, patience and hope!