Dear Mercy family,
First, thank you to the many of you who took our recent Back to Building Survey and shared your thoughts with us. Your responses expressed how much you care about the Mercy community!
We want to highlight a couple of trends we saw in the survey results. Among those that completed the survey, preferences for returning to Mercy’s building for services vary widely. Here’s what we saw:
- There is no clear majority of opinion. Preferences for returning to the building are fairly evenly split between those ready to return to the building right now, those who want to wait until singing is permitted and those who want to wait until there are no restrictions.
- Singing and kids church/childcare are important to you! We agree! And we want to be sure that we can safely provide these service elements.
- Parents who responded show a preference for waiting until childcare is available and there are no restrictions.
- People of color in our community show a stronger preference for waiting until there are no restrictions.
We received 136 survey responses and invited respondents to select multiple options to reflect their preferences more fully (you’ll note that total percentages do not add up to 100% as a result). See the bar graph results of preferences for returning to the building.
The Mercy staff is considering guidance and recommendations from the public health community and governing leaders in decision making. Currently, churches are rated amongst the highest risk category for exposure to COVID-19, primarily due to indoor gathering with limited air movement, length of exposure time and communal singing.
And we are also considering your preferences and desire for in person connection.The Mercy staff is exploring how we might safely return to using our building and when. Your feedback helps to guide our planning and decision-making. We are developing best practices and protocols for cleaning and activities to make our space as safe as possible. And we will be developing new teams and training to safeguard individuals in our community, especially those who are at higher risk.
In the meantime, we are striving to provide you as many opportunities as we can to cultivate connection:
- Streaming – We will continue to offer Sunday services online while we plan next steps. When we return to using the building for Sunday services, we will also stream Sunday services online to support those who are unable or uncomfortable joining us in person.
- Summer Small Church – We have launched Summer Small Church as a brief weekly opportunity for connection with a small group of people (10 or fewer) from Mercy for corporate communion and a question. The online or combination online and in-person gathering is intended to reflect the kind of connections we would make in the cafe at Mercy, make space for new relationships and provide a next step toward gathering in person in larger groups. You can still join a Summer Small Church at https://bit.ly/summersmallchurch.
- An Evening of Outdoor Worship at Mercy – Join us on Sunday, July 5, at 4pm for an outdoor worship set in Mercy’s back parking lot (west side of the building). Park in the front of the building or on the street. Bring your own chair to worship outdoors with us! We will encourage everyone to practice social distancing.
- Everyone Gets to Play – We are tentatively planning biweekly Wednesday evening gatherings at area parks to provide a next step for gathering in a little larger groups outdoors for connection and fun. We are planning Everyone Gets to Play events for Wednesdays, July 8, 22 and August 5, from 6-8pm. Stay tuned for additional details in the announcements and events page of our website for this opportunity to gather outdoors with your Summer Small Church and others from Mercy, hear from one another and have fun.
- Summer Growth & Connect Groups – Mercy’s Growth & Connect Group summer season is officially underway! Visit https://mercyvineyard.org/mercy-groups/ to explore and find a group that meets your needs and comfort level. Some groups meet online, others in person or in a hybrid. Email the group leaders to find out more.
Again, thank you for helping to inform our planning and decision-making going forward. We look forward to communicating with you, and hearing from you, as we make next step plans regarding returning to the building for Sunday services.
Mike Buerke and the Mercy Staff