news from the session and reopening task force

update - july 28, 2020

Based on the recommendations of health officials and confirmed by your recent survey responses, the Session has prayerfully considered and approved the following plan of our Reopening Task Force:

  • We hope to return to in-person worship for Advent, the season of hope (which begins November 29). While we recognize that unfolding realities may change this date, we hope that our family of faith may be safely present by then.
  • Once we are able to gather for worship in person, we will begin livestreaming worship, insuring accessibility for everyone who will still be worshiping at home.
  • In the meantime, our new A/V equipment will soon allow us to start recording worship in the sanctuary, so that we can “return” to this sacred space - even if from afar.
  • We will continue to experiment with smaller, outdoor, in-person gatherings, including for worship events, prayer gatherings, fellowship, book/film conversations, and more.  

We plan to use this time for creative community, spiritual growth, and commitment to mission. We welcome your input. Please let us know what ideas you have, what needs you see, and how God is calling us to be the church, even when we cannot be together in person. Please email office@westwoodpres.org with your ideas!

update - july 23, 2020

When COVID-19 began to spread across the Los Angeles area, we responded with an abundance of caution - closing the church building, suspending in-person meetings, and turning to gatherings over Zoom. Little did we know how long this “new normal” would last.


For a time, we had hoped that improving conditions regarding COVID-19 would allow us to gather in the sanctuary again, albeit in smaller numbers and with significant safeguards. We ordered A/V equipment to allow us to livestream worship, recruited a crew of younger people to do sign-ins and temperature checks, and distributed a congregation-wide survey to assess readiness to gather. But now, coronavirus cases have surged in the Los Angeles area, and our optimism about gathering in person soon for worship has faded.


Our new, more cautious plan is based on the recommendations of health officials, and confirmed by your survey responses. We are grateful to all of you who completed the survey. Even before the recent surge, out of 135 households responding, the average comfort level for returning to in-person worship was 3 out of 10. In addition, 90% shared their appreciation for access to sermons, music, and seeing people in our on-line worship. We were also glad to learn that, among those who answered, nearly 60% shared an interest in small, in-person social gatherings.


With all of this in mind, the Session has prayerfully considered and approved the plan of our Reopening Task Force: We hope to return to in-person worship for Advent (which begins November 29). It is fitting that Advent -- the season of hope -- is our target for gathering together again. While we recognize that unfolding realities may change this date, we hope that our family of faith may be safely present by then. Once we are able to gather for worship in person, we will begin livestreaming worship – insuring accessibility for everyone who will still be worshiping at home.

In the meantime, our new A/V equipment will allow us to start recording worship in the sanctuary, so that we can “return” to this sacred space - even if from afar.


We will continue to experiment with smaller, outdoor gatherings, which our survey indicates would be very welcome. We have had extraordinary turn-outs for monthly Food Pantry drop-off, which will continue the last Sunday of the month. We enjoyed the “Chalk the Church” gathering for children and family ministry earlier this month. We are exploring smaller, more informal outdoor worship, prayer gatherings, outdoor fellowship, Black Lives Matter book/film conversations, and more.


We will also continue to grow our online gatherings -- including Adult Bible Forum, Women’s Meditation, Bridge young adult fellowship, choir fellowship, Women Reading, Spiritual Gifts sessions, Story-telling, and other impromptu groups.


And, as always, we commit to caring for one another. Members have stepped up to call those who are alone, run errands for those who are house-bound, or connect people in need with community resources. It is always a joy to see the love of God embodied in our church - but it is all the more so in this tender season.


We plan to use this time for creative community, spiritual growth, and commitment to mission. We welcome your input. Please let us know what ideas you have, what needs you see, and how God is calling us to be the church, even when we cannot be together in person.

update - july 14, 2020

The WPC Session and Reopening Task Force want to thank everyone who participated in our recent survey. We received over 134 responses, representing over 230 members, friends, youth, and children from our WPC family of faith. The task force is hard at work analyzing the results and discerning next steps in our process. The good news is that our livestreaming capacities are a week closer to being realized! However, with Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent orders requiring the closing of many indoor operations, including worship, we will be prayerfully studying and exploring what that means for WPC, including considering the possibility of periodic outdoor worship. Stay tuned for updates as we have them.

update - july 7, 2020

The WPC Session and Reopening Task Force continue to prayerfully study and explore the many issues related to in-person gatherings, including worship. This past week you should have received a survey designed to record your concerns and preferences related to resuming in-person gatherings at WPC. If you did not receive the survey in your email inbox and would like to complete one, please contact the church office at silger@westwoodpres.org. Submitting the survey by Thursday, July 16, would be a big help to our Task Force!


In other news, we have begun purchasing and installing new equipment that will enable us to live stream and record services when we resume in-person worship. The new technology will hopefully be in place by the end of July so that, whenever we re-open the building, everyone can participate in worship, either in our sanctuary or at home.

 

update - june 30, 2020

The WPC Session and our Reopening Task Force continue to prayerfully study and explore the many issues related to in-person gatherings, including worship. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do! We’ve begun the process of purchasing and installing new equipment that will enable us to live stream and record services when we resume in-person worship. We still hope to have the new technology in place by the end of July so that, whenever we re-open the building, everyone can participate in worship, either in our sanctuary or at home.


The task force is also drafting a survey to hear your questions, concerns, and preferences related to resuming in-person gatherings at WPC. Be on the lookout for details about this survey and other updates. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to forward questions and concerns to Pastor Matt at mhardin@westwoodpres.org who will share them with the task force.  Remember—we’re all in this together!

update - June 25, 2020

Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, WPC continues to conduct worship, keep fellowship, and otherwise find ways to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Our mission does not depend on whether we gather in buildings, on Zoom or Facebook, or by email and phone. We have weekly online worship services, mid-week messages, and much more at westwoodpres.org. Church is happening.


Yet we yearn to resume a communal experience in our sacred space. The Session is prayerfully considering how to do that in ways that are safe, lawful, and respectful of everyone in our community. To that end, Session has convened a discernment task force to study the many issues implicated by in-person gatherings. The task force, meeting weekly, is developing recommendations for Session as to what next steps to consider.


Based on a recommendation from the task force, the Session has approved the installation of new equipment to enable us to live stream and record services when we resume in-person worship.  We hope to have the new technology in place by mid-July so that, whenever we re-open the building, everyone can participate in worship, either in our sanctuary or at home.


Continue to watch this space for details as they unfold. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to forward questions and concerns to Pastor Matt at mhardin@westwoodpres.org who will share them with the task force.  Remember—we’re all in this together!

UPDATE—June 15, 2020:  

In this world we, the church, are Christ’s body. Our church, WPC, has never closed. We continue to worship, keep fellowship, and otherwise find ways to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Our mission does not depend on whether we gather in buildings, on Zoom or Facebook, or by email and phone. We have weekly online worship services, mid-week messages, and much more here on our website. Church is happening.


Yet we yearn to resume a communal experience in our sacred space. The Session is prayerfully considering how to do that in ways that are safe, lawful, and respectful of everyone in our community. To that end, Session has convened a discernment task force to study the many issues implicated by in-person gatherings. The task force, meeting weekly, is developing recommendations for Session as to what next steps to consider. Watch this space for details as they unfold.

What we've been doing...

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to distance us from our communities, it is easy to feel isolated. Though we cannot come together in person, we are blessed that we are not alone. We are still a community that cares for one another, and for the world.

 

WPC’s leaders are committed to doing what we can to slow the transmission of COVID-19. To that end, we will continue to follow best practices – including suspending in-person gatherings like worship and meetings for as long as needed.

 

But we are also committed to being the church. This happens in many ways:

 

Worship. We are posting every week. Click here for the latest worship audio and videos. Watch for a new one each weekend. We encourage you to join on-line worship with us Sundays at 10am Pacific time. To receive the video and bulletin by email, click here.


Sunday school classes for children, youth, and adults. Click here for Sunday School Resources prepared by Janelle Pearson, Director of Children & Family Ministries and Jake Putich, Director of Student Ministries. Janelle and Jake will also be emailing parents more resources in the coming weeks; click here to subscribe to these email groups.


Adult Education and Spiritual Formation

    • Adult Bible Forum is meeting on Sunday mornings at 11:00am on ZOOM. Contact Matt Hardin at mhardin@westwoodpres.org for details on how you can join the group via Zoom.
    • Women’s meditation is meeting on Thursday mornings at 8:30am. Contact Janelle Pearson at jpearson@westwoodpres.org for details on how you can join the group via Zoom.
    • Guided Meditations, led by our own Becky Crane-Okada, are posted on our website periodically. Click here to participate.   

Support group meetings like AA, Al-Anon, and FA are connecting in different ways. To find out how to connect with a group, contact your group leader directly.


Congregational care needs all of us. The Deacons are leading the way as we tend our beloved community. If you know of anyone in need of outreach, or yourself need assistance, contact one of our pastors. And if you can offer help – like grocery shopping or making a phone call – please let us know.


Mission and Outreach is going strong and you get involved. Click below to:

Committee and board meetings continue to meet by Zoom or Conference Call as we plan worship, support mission, tend to finances, and more.

in the meantime...

In the meantime, we urge you to use this time to practice your faith – especially to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).

  1. Keep yourself safe. If your health is vulnerable, avoid crowds.   
  2. Keep others safe. Avoid shaking hands. Wash hands frequently. When possible, cover your hand when opening doors and using keypads.  
  3. Keep sharing the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 3:22-23). Our anxious world needs the calm of the Spirit of Christ.  As Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled – neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

 
We will continue to update you as the situation changes. If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch.