Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Plan to Return to In-Person Worship



June 9, 2020

Dear Family in Christ of First Presbyterian Church,

The Session has tentatively set a date of Sunday, June 21st at 9:30 AM for a return to in-person worship.  Why “tentatively”?  Although we as a county have entered Phase 2, we are monitoring the situation daily and know things can change.  The Center for Disease Control states that worship “gatherings present a risk for increased spread of COVID-19.”  As our church considers resuming public activities, please know that we will do so through a careful process, with an abundance of caution and concern for those who are most vulnerable, upon consideration of the best scientific knowledge at our disposal, in the spirit of constant prayer, and with full trust in the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.
Once we open the church for in-person worship, there will surely be awkward moments as we adjust to new protocols and practices. Things will look and be different!  We will have countless opportunities to exercise the spiritual gifts of patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control, with the knowledge that these strange times will not last forever; faith and hope will always be ours through our belief in Jesus Christ.
Some changes need to be made in the way we conduct worship in order to keep people safe from contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. 
The Session has approved the following changes to our worship services from June 21-July 12.  In early July we will review and adjust these measures as necessary.
  1. The Session STRONGLY urges people who are feeling ill or recovering from an illness to stay home until they are completely recovered.
  2. Those who are at risk due to existing health issues should decide whether they feel safe attending worship.  Recorded or online services will continue to be available.  
  3. Worship services will be outside on the front yard near the corner of 6th and Washington.  Please bring your own lawn chairs for you to sit on. We will have additional chairs for those who don’t have lawn chairs.  If there is a threat of inclement weather, service will be in the sanctuary.
  4. When we sit outside, we ask you to arrange yourselves to allow for 6 feet social distancing. When we are inside, every other pew will be roped off to help with social distancing.  Feel free to sit with family members or with those you are quarantining with.
  5. On June 21 and 28, all worship participants must wear masks if we worship inside. Outside, we encourage mask use also.  Please note there is soap in all restrooms and hand sanitizer will be placed in easy to access locations.  The church will have masks on hand in case someone forgets theirs.
  6. The church and especially the sanctuary and bathrooms will be sanitized before and after we worship.  We are being vigilant in our endeavor to keep things clean and sanitized for everyone’s safety.
  7. All hymnals, Bibles, pencils, and offering envelopes have been temporarily removed from the racks for safety reasons.
  8. Worship participants will be encouraged to refrain from hugging, handshaking or touching other persons before, during, or after the service.  During Passing of the Peace, you may bow or waive to your neighbors to share the peace of Christ.
  9. Scientific research shows that this virus is easily transmitted by airborne particles.  Therefore, we will need to temporarily refrain from congregational singing.
  10. An offering basket will be placed in a convenient location for your offering before or after the service.  We will not be passing the offering plates during the worship.
  11. We will temporarily suspend the use of ushers and Worship Leaders.
  12. We will temporarily not be using a bulletin.  The pastors will guide the congregation through the service.
  13. If we are indoors, the pastors will dismiss congregants by rows so people are not bunched at the door.
  14. There will not be Time with the Younger Church nor a Children’s Table.  The nursery will not be available the remainder of the summer.  Children will need to stay with their families.
  15. Fellowship refreshments will not be served during this time.  We encourage people to check in on each other after the service outside, always remembering to follow social distance guidelines.
  16. People are encouraged to use their home bathrooms before coming to church to minimize the use of the church restrooms.  Worship services will be shorter than usual.
  17. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms will require a discussion with the pastors to determine the safest ways to conduct these church functions.

Your Session, and especially your Worship Committee, is acting responsibly, faithfully, effectively, and with your best health and spiritual interests in mind.  We pray that everyone will understand our need to be cautious in our decision making and actions.  All the above measures are being initiated for your safety and the safety of those who worship with you.  Also, these protocols and decisions are subject to change and revision if the need arises.  The congregation will be kept updated on all decisions.
Let us remain faithful to God and to one another.  Let us be guided by the Word, responsive to the Spirit, and open to the grace of God.  Let us remember that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us at the church (541-963-5114) or call or text our cell (541-786-8281) or email us at pastorshudson@eoni.com

Christ’s Peace

Pastors Keith and Laura & the Session

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