June 20, 2020

Greetings, everyone.

Your Health Advisory Committee (HAC) has been hard at work to come up with a plan for beginning to resume in-person gatherings here at the church. On Monday, June 15, the Session approved a plan put forth by HAC that calls for phases of re-opening, not unlike what our state is using. The HAC intends to be cautious and careful in our re-opening, and so we will start small. What is, of course, disappointing to all of us is that our in-person worship services will be among the latter phases of this plan, because those are our largest and perhaps most risky gatherings, but also because worship at First Presbyterian has never stopped. It has adapted, but never stopped. We are grateful for the variety of ways to interact with our worship service, and those will continue going forward.

Phase 1 of our reopening plan will begin on July 6. At that time, groups of up to 20 people will be able to gather upon request at the church. Groups continue to be encouraged to meet online or in outdoor spaces, because those are still our best, safest ways to gather. But for those groups who would like to meet in the church building, we will begin to open up a few select spaces. Groups will be able to meet in Fellowship Hall (maximum of 20 people), the courtyard (maximum of 20 people), Room 214 (maximum of 8 people), and in the Youth Building (maximum of 8 people). We will only hold one gathering per day, and each room will have specific entrances and bathrooms that are to be used, in order to help our cleaning staff adequately clean between each gathering. All participants will be expected to wear a mask when in the building, and no food or drink is allowed to be shared.

The full details of the plan are located below as well in the newsletter that went out this week. Our church staff, Session, and HAC are all working diligently to ensure that any gatherings are as safe as they can be. We look forward to the days when our hallways are bustling with activity, but in the meantime, we are grateful for these smaller opportunities to gather and to be in proximity with one another. Should you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to the members of the Health Advisory Committee.

Gratefully,

Pastor Dee Dee Carson, Treasurer Johnny Ellis, Mark Winters, Laurie Dawson, Dawn Finguerra

Phase 1: effective July 6, 2020   Meeting/Event Request Form (online form or print a pdf)

  • Online worship services continue to be led by staff and soloists
  • Small groups of up to 20 people may begin to gather on church property, with a priority placed on gathering outside in the Courtyard or in front of the Youth Building as weather permits. Groups are encouraged to continue having an online component as a part of all gatherings so that participants are not forced to gather in person beyond their comfort level.
  • Available spaces within the church will have a set number of participants that are allowed to safely gather in each space. Spaces available for use in Phase 1 are:
  • Fellowship Hall with a capacity of 20 people
  • Courtyard with a capacity of 20 people
  • Youth Building with a capacity of 8 people
  • Room 214 with a capacity of 8 people
  • Church groups may also begin to gather off-site, such as youth group or Sojourners, with the same guidelines for church gathering in place
  • Groups should plan for shorter gatherings with minimal bathroom use needed
  • Funerals and weddings of up to 20 people can be accommodated in the courtyard or columbarium, or graveside services but not yet in the Sanctuary.

Policies for gathering

  • All persons entering the church building must wear a mask and be conscious of appropriating distancing, particularly with staff members who work in the high traffic area of the front office. Participants gathering outside in the Courtyard are also encouraged to wear masks.
  • In order for a group to gather, a point person or group leader must contact the church office and book their space in order for church staff to manage the safety of our building. No gatherings that have not been previously approved by the staff and placed on the church calendar are allowed to occur.
  • Gatherings will be set up with seating arranged to maintain appropriate distancing and tables and chairs should not be moved by groups. Diagrams for the set-up of each room are available for groups to review.
  • Capacity for rooms should not be exceeded
  • No food or drink is to be shared, but individuals can bring their own food and drink for themselves only.
  • Only one gathering may take place per day so that there is time for adequate cleaning between uses. Between gatherings, all surfaces in the rooms, bathrooms, entrances, and hallways used will be disinfected.
  • Attendance will be kept for all events.