In times like these there is a need for people, even unbelievers, to process and pray in a dedicated calming sacred space. Such a place can be a wonderful gift to the community.
Most church buildings are closed to the public. But your church can take sacred space to the people in the form of a pop-up or temporary sacred space outdoors. Many states with “stay at home” orders still permit outdoor activities and many parks are still open.
This sacred space can be as simple as a canopy gazebo with a table, seating, devotional materials, and creative meditation points and sanitizing materials. You can put it up in a “park, on a riverbank, a parking lot, a front yard, or anywhere else people are permitted to go,” as author Mark Pierson suggests. Include clear signs on or around it so that people know what it is.
You might have volunteers take turns watching over the space from a distance and sanitizing between visitors, or you might leave it unattended and just have someone check in daily.
If you’re in a state that still allows free travel, you can set one of these up on your church property, but consider taking it out into the community, as well.
- Spring is the rainy season in many places, so shelter may be necessary. A simple canopy gazebo may provide what you need. (Make sure to secured it or weight it correctly!) But you try getting permission to set up under a park shelter, a little-used bus stop shelter, in an outdoor pavilion or any other place
people will pass by.
- Post directions in and around the space limiting the number of people inside, details on social distancing, and directions on sanitizing when visitors leave.
- Candles are a staple of sacred spaces but can only be used if someone is watching over the space. Otherwise electronic candles are an option.
- You could provide prepackaged, sanitized communion kits but instruct people to take trash with them.
- If your space is not supervised, leave a small Bluetooth speaker with a SD port that plays downloaded music on its own.
- Seating should be simple and easy to sanitize, such as wooden chairs or benches.
- Put a rug on the ground to create a homey effect.
- Devotional materials. Try to keep things people can touch with their hands to a minimum. Create a wall or some sort of vertical surface.
There you can post prayers and devotional thoughts, maps of the community and world, and guidance on things to pray for.
- Add a table with small paintings, your music source, some greenery or flowers, candles (if supervised), and a sign-in journal.
- During Holy Week you might feature the Stations of the Cross in the space.
- Provide a welcoming message and give suggestions on how people might use the space.
- Make sure you have a stocked sanitation station with clear directions.
Consider giving the gift of accessible outdoor sacred space to your community in this time of anxiety and disconnection.
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