Two Services—The Big Picture
Before Covid began, the session developed a strategic plan for HPC that would help us more effectively reach our growing community. Part of the strategic plan was to investigate moving to two services to make room for additional families to attend. Pre-Covid our sanctuary was about 80% full on a given Sunday, which is essentially full. When the only remaining seats are in the front of the church and in the center of rows, it is hard to fill those seats. Especially if the remaining seats are ones and twos and a family of five comes in. When you stop having readily available seating for those who come, the message is, ‘we have no room for you here.’ Church unity begins to diminish when people start being turned away or feel unwelcome. It is no longer unifying when we begin to send the message that you do not belong here, we are full. While our attendance has not yet returned to our pre-Covid numbers, we are on our way there as more and more families are returning to in-person worship. We were at about 80% capacity last Sunday with our reduced seating.
A second service creates room for us to welcome and accommodate new people. Growing our membership and resources will allow us to pursue and achieve our vision of reaching our community and may also enable us to build a permanent sanctuary big enough to return to one service.
Now that Covid is more under control in our community, the session has decided that it is time to continue to advance our strategic vision. HPC will offer 2 services for 5 weeks starting Nov. 21 thru and including Christmas Sunday, Dec. 19. There are pros and cons to a church having two services, and many of you may have strong feelings about this, but we would like to use this as an opportunity to explore the best long-term plan for growth.
Having two services will also help us better serve our congregation through the holidays by providing a space for those who still prefer stricter Covid protocols to be in place. The first service (9:15-10:20) will observe Covid protocols and require masks. The second service (10:45-12:00) will continue to be mask-optional. Finally, whether the Covid protocols required in the first service are your preference or not, we pray that God will give us a spirit of unity and grace. For the next 5 weeks the early service will allow us to grow our in-person attendance by serving those who prefer to have Covid protocols in place.