June 8, 2020
Dear Community and friends of First Presbyterian Church,
In the last few months we have learned to be the church in new ways. We have learned there are things that can be done from a distance that we never tried to do before and we have learned how much our gatherings mean to us – we have all felt the impact of the isolation to one degree or another.
We have been blessed by our musicians playing each week for our on-line videos. We have remained connected through phone calls, mail, zoom and our website. We have continued to support the Aberdeen Food Bank, the deacons, and because of your continued generosity we have not seen any major drop in our monthly operating budget.
On Wednesday May 27, Governor Inslee’s office released some basic guidelines for churches to begin in-person worship services again. A couple congregations in Grays Harbor met on May 31, many more met for the first time this past Sunday. Our Session met on Thursday, June 4 and approved a plan to submit to the Presbytery of Olympia about plans to continue in-person services.
We have a 20-point plan (which sounds more intense than it is) that follows the guidelines provided by the Governor’s office with the intention of meeting together for the first time this Sunday, June 14.
You can check out the whole document on our website if you are interested. But, here are the highlights.
Services will remain on-line on our website for at least 6 months – so those who are most vulnerable or sick or still feeling like physical distancing is best can continue to participate on-line. We will send the bulletin with hymns, readings, etc. by email every week.
The capacity of our sanctuary allows us to have 50 persons or less, not including those helping lead the service.
Everyone must wear masks, before, during and after the service. (unless you have a medical reason not to)
Everyone is encouraged to take your temperature before you come and to stay home if you have a fever or any symptoms (or if in your household does) we would ask that you stay home and participate on-line.
A team of volunteers will disinfect all surfaces and seating areas in the entry way and sanctuary before and after the service. Plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, and antibacterial wipes will be accessible throughout the building.
Bathrooms will be open but we would ask that you do not go into any other parts of the building so we do not have to clean the whole facility.
The parking-lot/alley doorway will be the only entry point.
Households must remain seated together; ushers will help you find the seating plan to keep proper distancing.
A bulletin will be at your seat that has everything you will need for the service (Bibles, hymnals, tithing envelopes, etc. will be removed from sanctuary and stored away for the time being)
Since singing seems to increase the spread of the virus we will ease into singing – keeping the congregational hymn for the last thing we do and everyone must keep masks on when we sing.
We will not have a choir, Sunday school, coffee hour or communion for the time being – we are working on getting sealed communion packs that would include juice and a wafer in a sealed pouch.
As of this letter we have been fortunate to have only 18 cases of COVID19 in Grays Harbor. We obviously want that to continue! And so we will remain flexible – if there are any signs in the county that it would be wise to not meet we will go back to doing things as we have the last 3 months. We anticipate that there may be more changes to this plan as we move forward – if we have learned anything it is we must remain flexible.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the office. It will be good to see one another as we slowly, cautiously and as safely as possible begin to gather in person.
Grace and peace,