One of the things I love about the Sunday Advent readings is how God consistently shows up in unexpected places. In wilderness and desert and village. In the wombs of an old woman and a poor teenager. In silence and confusion. In a manger.
These stories give me special hope this year as we prepare to move to Randolph Elementary. I confess that sometimes when I think about moving, I find myself grieving the loss of our beautiful light-filled chapel and atrium. Soon we'll meet in an elementary school gym, far from pews and stained glass.
But the Advent stories remind us that God is already there, preparing the way. That God loves to exalt humble people and places. That God is always breaking into our world in what seems most ordinary. So as much as I will miss our chapel and canopies, I am also hopeful for what is next. I am excited to live more fully into our name — Incarnation, God made flesh, God among us in the mess and muck of life — as we worship the incarnate God together at Randolph Elementary.
Below is a map to help orient you to Randolph and some FAQs about the move.
When will we move?
Our first service is Sunday, Jan 2 at 10am. This is a special all-hands-on-deck Sunday! We'd love EVERYONE to arrive at 8:30am to unload the van together for the first time as we learn by doing. If there are too many hands on deck, we'll send folks out to walk the neighborhood — to pray blessing over our new neighbors and to look and listen for what God is already doing.
This means we have just 3 services left at our current location: Sunday Dec 19 at 10am; Friday Dec 24 at 3pm (Christmas Eve); and Sunday Dec 26 at 10am (my ordination).
Where is Randolph? Where do we go?
Randolph Elementary is located at 1306 S Quincy. Our entrance is door #10. We will meet in the gym. Our children's room is B102, just down the hall (though kids will not meet for the first few weeks). There will be signs to guide you on Sundays!
What will be our COVID protocols?
We will abide by Arlington Public Schools policy, which requires masks for everyone over age 2, regardless of vaccination status. This will be a big change for us after so many months outdoors, and if you are struggling with this policy, please talk to us! Everyone is experiencing pandemic fatigue, and we are here to listen.
We encourage spreading out and creating as much distance between you and others as you feel comfortable with. Randolph has excellent air filtration, and all our rooms open directly to the outside. We'll continue trying to keep our services short and to move outside after the service when the weather permits. Masks are not required outdoors.
What about kids?
For the first few weeks of January, all kids will worship with us in the service. We still have a few things to work out in the new space before we begin children's ministry again — stay tuned! In the meantime, we'll continue to have our art carts and quilts available with materials for quiet play. And you can bring your family quilts that you've been using these last months under the canopies too.
Once kids' ministry begins again, nursery-aged kids (ages 0-3) will remain in the gym for the duration of the service with age-appropriate materials. We'll see how this goes and tweak as needed!
Older kids (ages 3+) will meet before the service at 9:30am in room B102 for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, our hands-on children's program. When the service begins at 10am, children who wish to join their parents in the gym are welcome to do so; the others will remain in the atrium. All children and volunteers will return to the gym for communion.
Will the volunteer roles stay the same?
For now, we’re largely going to keep the same volunteer roles. If we find we need to tweak things over time, we will. We’re learning as we go.
However, there is one (fun!) task that is completely new: driving the church van from its parking spot on the street to its unloading spot at the school. Let me know if you're interested!
Will we still have Zoom?
Yes! Randolph's wifi should allow us to continue to Zoom the service for those who are unable to join us in person. We'll continue recording and posting the service to YouTube. However, wifi in old cinderblock buildings can be unpredictable; if we discover problems down the road, we have several creative solutions up our sleeves! Please be patient with our technology for the first few weeks as we work things out.
Is the building accessible?
Yes! There is a ramp directly into the back of the gym, and the inside of the building is fully accessible.
What about parking?
Randolph has two onsite parking lots with a total of about 45 spaces, plus one handicap space. There is also ample street parking all around the school; please respect our neighbors if you choose to park on the street!
People with limited mobility, parents of small children, and visitors have priority in the smaller parking lot closest to entrance #10. This lot allows easy ramp access to the gym.
How can we say goodbye to #canopychurch?
We've all come to love our outdoor worship space behind the dumpsters! God has met us here week after week, and we want to give full expression to our gratitude as we prepare to move on. Our last few services will feel like a bit of a whirlwind — Advent, Christmas Eve, ordination — but I invite you to take a moment to breathe deeply, look around, remember, and be fully present. This Sunday, you'll have a final opportunity to tie a strip of fabric on the fence as a marker of all God has done and a prayer of hope for the future.
On our last Sunday, Dec 26, you'll be invited to take one of these strips home with you, perhaps to tuck in your bible or tie onto your Incarnation bell. These strips remind us that our community has weathered a pandemic and cicadas and strong winds and extreme temperatures in this space. We've baptized babies, ordained ministers, welcomed members, and sung with angels here. God has been with us at every moment, and he will continue to be with us as we step toward the future together.
We will all be learning a lot together over the next few months. Please reach out to me, Liz, or Josie with any additional questions or ideas about the move!