Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Who could have imagined, when we left the sanctuary on March 8, that we would spend weeks, months, whole seasons of the church year (Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost) and entire community occasions … not there?!
When we wrote to you on March 13, we knew that in light of COVID-19, the wisest, most compassionate, most faithful thing to do was suspend in-person gathering. We understood that – while worship would be in our homes and over digital media, while offerings would be online and through the mail, while prayer and music and study and the life of the church would take on all new forms – we would remain in God’s great care, and we remained the church.
That has not changed.
We are still in God’s great care.
WE are still Harvard Avenue Christian Church.
Though we have not seen each other in person, you have remained one body in Christ:
- Connecting each week through redesigned worship.
- Sharing your offerings so that our ministry and financial outlook stays healthy.
- Welcoming our new Lead Pastor, without actually yet meeting him!
- Joining in Children Worship & Wonder – even if you aren’t watching with children!
- Serving thousands of meals with Tulsa Kitchens Unite.
And showing – as we have for 61 years – that the church is not a building, but is its people. This church has called, texted, emailed, and written; Zoomed, prayed, and even joined from your living room!; checked in, picked up, and taken care of; in countless ways, often unseen.
WE are still Harvard Avenue Christian Church.
The pastors, staff, Elders, Executive and Ministry Leadership Teams have had dozens of conversations, spent weeks in prayer, considering what our next steps might be – and when.
We are hopeful and prayerful, working toward a mid-July re-gathering for worship (only).
Keep in mind that worship will not look the same as it did on March 8. We are eager to be together, as long as we can do that in ways that are responsible, healthful, meaningful, and allow everyone who wants to be part, to do so. Why July; why not now? We want to be care-full and faith-full in our work and in our decisions; we would rather regret moving too slowly, than regret moving too soon.
Here’s what we know right now:
- Our hope is for a mid-July return to worship in our building. That will be guided by several things, including the Tulsa Health Department’s tracking of the coronavirus and its impact in the Tulsa community. We are sensitive that data may change, and our target may need to shift.
- Harvard Ave staff will return to working in-office, practicing respiratory protocols (distance, masking) when working together, beginning June 1. The facility remains closed at this time, but we are available by phone, email, video call, and appointment.
- We have gathered a dynamic group of strategic thinkers to serve as a ‘comeback team’. They will help us think about every aspect of a phased reopening of our facility. Our staff, leadership, and ministry teams will implement worship (first) and ministry and program opportunities (later) with the safety, health, and thriving of the congregation foremost in mind.
- This is a season of faithful exploration and deep learning. In addition to worship (not replacing it!), there is a terrific new event, Harvard in the Backyard, that launches next week (June 4). These six lessons (video and study guide), diving into the book of Philippians, have been created just for you, and for the neighbors you invite to join in.
- We are entirely aware, and absolutely understand, that not everyone will be ready – physically, medically, or spiritually – to be on the schedule that we will soon outline.
It is our priority to have our existing connections remain in place. We will maintain online worship, study, and prayer connections, and create more that are needed, so that we remain ONE body of Christ, wherever and however we gather.
There is A LOT to think about, and pray over, and plan for.
Soon, love will look like being together for worship in person … in new ways … with some new things, and maybe without some familiar ones.
But love never ends.
And love has always, and will always, look like US :
the body of Christ, alive in the world.
We are so grateful for you. We are honored to be your pastors, and to serve with you in our community. THANK YOU, Harvard Avenue, for your love and patience, for your gifts and generosity, and for your prayers – for each other and for our church – as we step forward in faith: safely, patiently, and together.
The Pastors, Staff, and Leadership Teams of Harvard Avenue Christian Church