Survey Results and Outdoor Worship

Dear Friends,

Back in May, the session of Knox Presbyterian Church formed a re-entry task force.  The group was asked to explore how and when we might safely return to utilizing the Knox campus.  At the task force’s request, a survey was then sent out in early August, asking you about your experience with online church at Knox, and gauging how eager you were to return to our facilities.  Seventy-nine people filled out the survey, providing your session, staff, and re-entry task force with very helpful feedback in planning for the future.

Here are some insights your survey responses revealed:

  1. Roughly three-quarters of respondents were pleased with Knox’s online worship services and remote community events and expressed deep gratitude for them in these pandemic days.
  2. There are some respondents for whom remote services and gatherings are simply not a great fit, either because they suffer from “Zoom fatigue” from work or school, or they have childcare responsibilities that make online participation challenging.  These people were especially eager to see in-person services and social gatherings offered once again.
  3. While the majority of respondents back in August still preferred to remain online-only as a congregation, a sizable minority (almost half) would love to attend either an in-person outdoor service, a socially distant small group gathering or a worship service in the Knox sanctuary (assuming health restrictions and safety protocols allowed for it).
  4. Some great ideas were shared for how remote services and online offerings might be improved, and a number of the suggestions have already been incorporated – such as listing the names of the worship leaders and song titles during our services.

Given these survey results, and the number of people who now participate in our services from places distant from Pasadena, Knox will continue to offer online worship for the foreseeable future.  We are preparing our sanctuary to better allow for the live streaming of our services once we can gather again in that space.  But mindful of those eager to attend an in-person service now and looking ahead to a future where all churches will offer on-site gatherings, Knox’s re-entry task force has been exploring in-person worship options for the fall.

Scientific data on COVID-19 indicates a significantly lower risk for outdoor gatherings vs. indoor, especially if masks and social distancing practices are observed.  Since safety protocols for Pasadena now allow for outdoor worship, Knox is making plans to host such a service.  Congregants would be able to gather as individuals or family units on the Knox lawn.  Or if they preferred, attendees could remain in their vehicles and listen to the service from the Knox parking lot on a designated FM channel (the “drive-in church” option).  We would carefully observe safety precautions, and endeavor to live stream this service as well.

When will Knox be holding this service?
As soon as weather and air quality allow.  As I write to you, the Bobcat fire has expanded to encompass more than 40,000 acres.   Not only is it threatening homes like mine in Altadena, but it has filled the San Gabriel Valley with smoke and ash, making it unsafe to be outside.  So we will be watching the weather and air quality forecasts, and monitoring the state of local wildfires.  And we look forward to hosting an outdoor service as soon as we can do so safely.

As with all of you, my prayers today are with the firefighters and all those under threat from the various blazes in California and Oregon.   I join you too in praying for those in Alabama and Florida suffering from Hurricane Sally.  We are acutely aware of the precious gift from God that the earth and our local San Gabriel bio-region represent.  May we embrace anew the call to be good stewards and loving caretakers of creation, even as we pray for its healing.  And may God’s protection be over all those under threat this day.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Matt

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