Regathering Letter: Reopening the Sanctuary Doors

Oh, Happy Reopening Day!

Greetings, welcome back and….Alleluia!

On Sunday, July 4th, the United Church of Strafford will open its doors for the first in-person service since March, 2020!

Of course, some things will look a little different because we are all living in changing times. BUT, worship will be the same in more important ways: a shared experience in the sanctuary with beautiful music, important words, and being in community with each other, with everyone welcome! Here are some questions that you may have……

1. What will the service be like?

The in-person service will feel very familiar. There will be joyful music, reading of scripture and a sermon. (It will be shorter than the pre-pandemic services to allow for a shared Joys and Concerns – more on that below)

2. What about masks?

As always, the church welcomes children – and children can not yet be vaccinated. So, to protect children and others who may not be vaccinated we will all (age 2 and older) wear masks while we are in the church building.

3. Will we need to be physically distanced in church?

For now, we will follow physical distancing guidelines, for the same reason we will wear masks.

4. How will the service be different?

The service will be live streamed and accessible to people at home, at college, in the hospital or anyone who is not able to attend in person. Sunday morning activities will be accessible by the Zoom link found here. This live streaming will not affect the experience of the people in the sanctuary.

5. What about Joys and Concerns?

Over the past year, while we have been closed because of the pandemic, people have been gathering in an extended period of Joys and Concerns on the computer screen. This has been so valued and well received, for sharing support and building community, that we would like to continue it. When we reopen, Joys and Concerns will happen right after the worship service in the sanctuary and will be interactive, including both those in the sanctuary and those at home, who will be visible on a large screen. Those in the sanctuary may also be seen (if you choose) by the people watching from home. Everyone is more than welcome to stay and participate for this part, or you may leave if you need to.

6. Will there be religious education or childcare during the service?

For now, there will only be teenage child care in the Parish Hall. It will include reading some new books that Danette and Joey have selected.

7. Will there be coffee hour after the service?

We hope to have refreshments together outside when the weather cooperates. We will follow state and denominational guidelines as we consider moving it indoors.

8. Will there be singing in the church?

We recognize how important singing is! The choir will be singing masked, and we hope to have masked congregational singing as well, but the guidelines on this are evolving so we will announce our policy week to week.

Finally, you probably have some questions about the technology piece that will enable us to livestream, record, and interact during Joys and Concerns. We are planning an Open House so that you will be able to see how the computer, camera, microphone and screen work. Please feel free to drop in to the sanctuary to check it all out on Saturday, June 26 between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. We’d love to see you!

If you have any questions, feel free to call Danette Harris at 765-4312 or Joey Hawkins at 765-4040, or email at

We so look forward to seeing you all again!

Church Council of the United Church of Strafford

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