A Call for a Pilgrim “Smart Team”
By Tim Dykstal

During the past months, guided by our creative Pilgrim staff and shared ministry leaders, we’ve learned that various dimensions of what is essential about being a Pilgrim congregation can be retained — or re-conceived — as we shelter in place, at home. On Sunday mornings—or really, anytime we’re so inclined—thanks to recording technology and internet access, we can listen to familiar hymns, hear the words of Scripture, and ponder the reflections of our pastors and other preachers. We carry these words, and hum this music, throughout our week. It’s not what it used to be, but it can be sustaining.

As our government officials move gradually to reopen the public spaces that make various dimensions of life more possible, however, it’s time to think about what reopening Pilgrim would mean as well. Our Saint Paul Area Synod Bishop, Patricia Lull, has called on member congregations to form a “smart team” of congregants to ponder that question. What we’re looking for in particular are Pilgrims who have expertise in areas that most concern reopening. Public health officials, project managers, event planners, advocates for equity and justice — any leaders who think about making public spaces safer and more welcoming in a time of crisis: Pilgrims like these are especially welcome. What we need is a plan.

Bishop Lull, informed by her own conversations with state officials, laid out three conditions that such a plan must consider. If and when we choose to gather again:
1.    How close will people be?
2.    How long will they be next to one another?
3.    How predictable is the movement in and out of the space?

There is plenty of guidance out there from churches already grappling with these questions, and the Saint Paul Area Synod — while emphasizing that each congregation will respond to its specific context — has promised a template or checklist to help its members form their plans. You won’t be left to consider a blank slate.

Are your talents suited to this effort? Would you like to help Pilgrim map out a plan to reopen, or to lay out what a limited reopening might look like? If you feel called to this task, please let us know as soon as possible. We hope to charge Pilgrim’s smart team with its task by early June.

You can respond to me, Tim Dykstal, at tdykstal@gmail.com.