From the Transitional Minister

February 18, 2021

Dear Members and Friends,

You will find two letters in this mailing.  The first is from me regarding the opening of our church to in-person worship and the second is from Kat about the virtual choir. So, much of what have done this past year has never been tried at our church before.  The virtual choir is one of those projects and I am excited to see it this coming Sunday.   It is an amazing process and is much like putting together a musical crossword puzzle.  I think you will find the process remarkably and interesting.  Watch for the choir this coming Sunday!

Following Kat’s letter are the most recent statistics about Covid in Alpena county. 

At its February meeting, the Church’s Board decided that we had reached a point where we can resume in-person worship the first Sunday in March.  You will find below the latest information on Covid-19 as of this morning Thursday the 18th of February.

We will be following Covid Protocols during the worship service and masks will be made available at the door.  A complete list of guidelines will follow next week and will be posted on our WEB and Facebook page.  If you are able please follow us on one of those two online sources for the latest information.  We will continue to post the latest Covid data twice a week so you can make an informed decision.

The worship service will be live streamed starting the seventh which means it will not be available before Sunday morning and will be posted immediately following the service so you may worship and view later.  Because it is the first Sunday of the month communion will be offered using self-contained bread and cup.  Those at home can receive communion in the same way we have during the closure.

We made this decision because the infection rate and the positive test rate have fallen to the green level for several days and the overall rating is hovering between yellow and orange.  (The Scale is dark red, severe, red, orange, yellow and the lowest category green.}  With the growing number of members who have received two vaccine shots, the lower county wide rates, the use of strict Covid guidelines we believe the time has come to reopen. 

However, we are watching the situation very closely and the progression of variant strains and their reaction to the current vaccinations.   We do not want to open and then must close again which is always a real possibility if the virus gets out of hand.

It is important to realize that we cannot guarantee that the chances of contracting the virus is zero.  We urge you to continue to worship at home if you have the slightest hesitation. (I guess better safe than sorry applies here.)  As I mentioned we will continue to post the services online following the live streaming.  We will email and snail mail the latest information next Thursday. 

Transitional Minister,

Bob

COUNTY COVID STATISTICS AS OF FEBRUARY 18

 

DAILY NEW CASES

Orange 10.1

PER 100K

Very large number of new cases

 

INFECTION RATE

GREEN 0.76

Active cases are decreasing

 

POSITIVE TEST RATE

Green 2.5%

Indicates widespread testing

 

ICU CAPACITY USED

Unknown

Insufficient data to assess

 

VACCINATED

16.8%

From the Music Director

February 18, 2021

Dear church members and viewers!

 

With the church not being open, I am sure some of you have wondered what I’ve been doing to keep busy. My service to the church has changed forms in the past year and I’m so excited about some of the things we’ve accomplished, like installing a new video system! I’m also very excited to tell you about a project I’ve been working on.

 

After getting through the rush of Christmas, I knew I wanted to host a virtual choir. That’s the first step. Next I needed to think about all of the tiny pieces that needed to fit together. How would we hold rehearsal? Was technology going to be a barrier? How does everyone get the music? This was a priority to me because singing brings us together. 

 

After some searching, I found the perfect anthem, The Welcome Table. That got me to thinking, why not make this a virtual community choir and invite any and all voices to sing? So that is what we did. Rev Case announced it at his weekly pastoral meeting and the pastors were interested. After that, I had choir directors from different churches reaching out in excitement.

 

It was during this time that I got to know those at Peace Lutheran Church in Gaylord. How awesome to collaborate, not only with LARCC churches and others in our own town, but all the way over to Gaylord! I look forward to future collaboration, as well.

 

We held our first Zoom rehearsal the first week of February. I used three devices. My phone so they could see and hear me. One computer that was hooked up to my piano keyboard so the audio would be clear and crisp. And, the final computer so I could screen share the music and recordings with the group. We had 10 people join us for rehearsal and it was great fun!

 

After that, the recordings started rolling in. This was the hardest part. I took each individual recording and placed it into the timeline of my video editing software. After that, I needed to line each video up with the next one. This is an extremely lengthy and precise process, down to the millisecond. At this point, I did some mixing to adjust for different recording volumes and placed the videos where I wanted them on the screen and rendered the video. You can think of this as making a quilt. Each piece is strategically sewn into place by the computer and put into one master file to be added to our service or uploaded to YouTube.

 

You’ll find the video in this week’s church service as well as uploaded separately to our Facebook, website, and YouTube. I hope you enjoy it!


-Kat

The First Congregational United Church of Christ

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201 South Second Avenue
Alpena, Michigan 49707
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