About our ‘hybrid’ worship services

By Rev. Rick King

We’re on the cusp of our first “hybrid” worship service on Sept. 19 at 10:30 a.m. We’ll have a live, in-person service in our sanctuary, and that service will be livestreamed on YouTube so people who are not physically present can be part of the worshiping congregation.

This is a continuation of an evolution that COVID-19 has greatly accelerated. After indoor worship had to stop in March 2020, we went completely online for a time. Then we began worshiping in person in the parking lot while our pre-recorded service premiered on YouTube. Now we’re ready to go live in both formats.

Hybrid worship is defined as one congregation in two spaces—the virtual and the physical, the online and the in-person—where worshipers in the two spaces are seen and treated as equal participants as much as possible.

This means we’re going to be drawing readers, speakers, even musical offerings and, hopefully, in-house-produced brief videos from people in the online space as well as the sanctuary space. So worship in the sanctuary will be both the same, and different, from what we did before the pandemic.

A surprising number of people new to FHC in the past year and a half have said they first checked our church out online, watching our worship services, surfing our website—or have liked our public Facebook page or followed us on Instagram or Twitter, to see what we’re doing, get a flavor of our church, and make plans to visit a parking lot service or outdoor event.

The worship schedule for September and October will be “transitional”—that’s the best way to describe it. We’ll be straddling the boundary between “old-hybrid” (parking lot and pre-recorded) and “new-hybrid” (sanctuary and livestreamed). With the surge in COVID cases due to the Delta variant, we’re waiting as long as we can to go indoors, so we’ll have parking lot and YouTube services on Sept. 12 and 26 (10:30 start time will resume on the 12th) and Oct. 3 and 17, weather permitting. Our first sanctuary and livestreamed service is Sept. 19 at 10:30.

For that service, everybody will be asked to mask, and household groups and individuals will need to sit in blue-taped areas of the pews to maintain 6-foot distance. It will also be a while longer before we can sing as a congregation, but we’ll utilize ensembles of up to 10 people from the platform for vocal music.

The biggest difference in this transitional time will be a limit of 30 worshipers in the sanctuary at a time. Members of the congregation will sign up in advance.

Our return to in-person worship will be slow and gradual, as people feel safe to return—but I certainly hope you will want to return soon, and that you’ll sign up for a Sunday service as soon as you feel safe to do so.