The response of Session to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Friends,  
We’ve been on a long journey together!  From the start of this pandemic your session and staff have been grounded in our call to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Colossians 3:12), and to care for the least of these among us (Matthew 25:45).  Because we love our neighbors, we want to do everything we can in an effort to bring no harm to anyone when we resume our program year in a few weeks.

We invite you to our Rally Day celebration, “Together Again,” on September 12, with outdoor worship at 10:30, filled with good music, the blessing of our devices, and welcoming of new members.  The third graders will receive their Bibles; we’ll have yard games, a photobooth, and balloon animals, with a picnic lunch as well.
Sunday School kicks off on September 19th with the start of our new curriculum, “Follow Me: Biblical Practices for Faithful Living.”  As we move through these next stages of the pandemic, session has provided a protocol to follow.  Face masks for children and adults are required for all participating in Sunday School.  We will continue our mask requirement for worship as well.  We have both adult and children’s masks for your convenience.

A “Meet and Treat” event will be held in the church courtyard on Wednesday, September 1, at 6:15 pm for the 2-6 grade choir, the 7-12 choir and Genesis Ringers. Dilly bars will be served. Choir members can meet their directors and register for choirs. All singing choirs will begin rehearsing on September 8th. Westminster Ringers and the St. Andrew’s Brass will resume rehearsals on September 15. The following instructions are in place for music group participants:
  • Adults who participate in singing, instrumental or handbell groups need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 
  • Brass players shall use fabric bell covers and paper plates will be used to collect “brass fluids,” and thrown away after rehearsals. 
  • Handbell players shall physically distance and wear face masks. 
  • All singers shall wear face masks.  Special “singing” masks will be provided for our young singers. 
  • Physical distance of 3 feet or more shall be used for singing choirs.  The adult choir may choose to rehearse in the sanctuary. 
  • Our K-2nd grade choir will not meet this fall semester, but 2nd graders are invited to join the 3rd-6th grade choir. 
  • The church’s ventilation system has 4 air exchanges every hour for all our rehearsal rooms.  We are comfortable with one hour rehearsals in these spaces. 

Session also addressed larger groups meeting in the church.  We require face masks and, for the time being, require no food or drink be served.  The size of the group will determine the meeting place, reserving the largest groups to the sanctuary, the next largest to the Social Hall, etc.

We encourage good handwashing; dispensers of hand sanitizer are liberally placed throughout our building.  If you have symptoms of a Covid illness, we ask that you not attend the in-person worship or activity until you are feeling better.  Session is committed to monitoring guidelines regularly, and revising recommendations as needed and when appropriate.  
About a year ago the Educon Committee delivered yard signs that said, “You are loved by First Presbyterian Church.”  We really mean it!  We will get through this…together. 
Your Pastor, 
Mary Holtey