Through the 2021 year, we continued to innovate our worship and music life around the challenges of the pandemic. Featured soloists and instrumentalists were coordinated to lead special music in worship weekly. We hosted Open Door Prayers in the Sanctuary on Tuesdays and our virtual Thursday Evening Prayer worship features prayers from the prayer line in our community. Members were provided with an at-home Maundy Thursday worship service, and we did host a live Good Friday service. Sundays continued our 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM worship experiences until the summer. We restructured the Flower and Chancel guilds and have integrated a variety of helpers into those ministries. Acolytes, communion, weekly ushers, and other worship elements have been restored, and we added permanent projectors to the sanctuary to provide additional ways of engaging the Word with our congregants in worship on Sundays. The summer Evening Prayer Music Series featured six groups with a variety of guests from throughout the city and helped to broaden our reach throughout the Roanoke Valley.
We have now welcomed back the choir! We hope to resume a more normal choir presence if the pandemic wanes in the months ahead, and so this means additional anthems and copies of existing anthems (the choir has grown to 38 singers!). Instrumentalists provide special music for Reformation Sunday, Christmas Eve, Easter, and special choral presentations. Our licensing and digital media needs have grown with our technology for worship and live streaming services. There will be a need for additional pulpit supply in 2022 for Rev. Whaley’s sabbatical, and we anticipate taking a group once again to the Montreat Worship and Music Conference.
Open Door Prayers continues weekly and a monthly live and in-person worship experience will take place on the Third Thursday of each month to pray for the needs of our community. We continue to integrate the lessons from the pandemic into our life together and hope that our worship makes God’s presence real in our lives each week so we can live in that reality day-by-day in our city.