First Presbyterian Church In-Person Worship Policy Change October 18, 2020

Most of us can probably remember the week of March 15…it was around that time that our normal routines began to change due to Covid-19.  With this pandemic came Executive Orders from Governors as well as guidelines from the CDC and other health professionals.  Every area of our lives has been impacted by Covid-19…and the church is no exception.  Since March the Session has sought to be faithful to those responsibilities laid out in our Book of Order as well as to the mission that God has called this church to undertake.
 
For several months this meant that we only worshiped online.  (And I am so thankful for that technology!)  In August we moved into in-person worship where we required masks for those attending while they were entering/exiting the sanctuary and when we sang hymns.  In September we experimented with a second service at 1:30 that required masks throughout the whole service.
 
As the Session been reviewing all that we have been doing and praying for guidance, we have felt a need to alter our current policy so we can better provide a safe worshipping experience for everyone who wants to worship in person.
 
Beginning Sunday, November 1 the Session will be implementing a policy that requires masks to be worn through the entirety of the service.  We feel this positions us to not only offer in-person worship that is safe for everyone who wishes to worship, but is also in compliance with recommendations from the Presbytery, our state government, and the CDC.  And, more importantly, we feel this is the direction God is leading us.
 
If you do not have a mask we will provide you with one at the door.  We will continue to offer hand sanitizing stations at the entrances and seating that promotes social distancing.
 
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me, or one of your elders.  We would be happy to talk with you.
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Joe

First Presbyterian Church In-Person Worship Announcement September 16, 2020

The Book of Order (part of the Constitution of our denomination) clearly lays out the responsibilities of the Session.  The three items listed are:

  • provide that the Word of God may be truly preached and heard.
  • provide that the Sacraments may be rightly administered and received.
  • nurture the covenant community of disciples of Christ.

 
Since March the Session has sought to be faithful to their responsibilities as well as to the mission we have received from God. We continue to offer online streaming options, just as we have for the past few years, where you can join us for worship from your home.
 
In August we began offering in-person worship.  We have a Session approved policy, which can be found on our website, that requires those attending to wear masks as they enter and exit the sanctuary, but not during the service itself, except for when singing hymns.  We will continue with this policy for the 11:00 service of worship.
 
But in an effort to reach even more people the Session has approved a second in-person service of worship…on a trial basis.  Beginning this coming Sunday, September 20, we will offer an in-person worship service at 1:30 Sunday afternoons.  This service will differ from the 11:00 as masks will be required throughout the whole service.  We are offering this in the hopes that we may be able to provide a setting of worship for those who due to health reasons or other risk factors would feel more comfortable if masks were worn throughout the service.
 
Our plan is to offer this service for a period of four weeks and then we will evaluate it and make a decision on whether or not we will continue offering it.
 
If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me, or one of your elders.  We would be happy to talk with you.
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Joe

In-Person Worship Announcement July 28, 2020

First Presbyterian Church
In-Person Worship Announcement
July 28, 2020

So, I am excited to share with you that we are once again ready to offer in-person worship beginning this Sunday, August 2!

In-person worship will follow the same precautions and safety policies as were implemented by the Session back in June.

  •  As you arrive for worship, we will have outside doors (north and south side of the Narthex) open so no one will have to touch handles in order to enter
  •  Everyone needs to wear a mask/face covering when entering and exiting the sanctuary.  These masks/coverings may be removed once you are seated.
    • If you do not have a mask/face covering, we will have masks available.
  •  As you enter and exit the sanctuary, hand sanitizer stations are available.
  •  The pews are marked with blue painters tape in order to provide guidance for appropriate social distancing.  We recognize that families will be seating together so ushers will be available to provide guidance.
  • As we begin returning to in-person worship we will not have a choir.  Hopefully we can return to choral music in the near future…we will continue to monitor best practices.
  •  Initially congregational singing will be limited since singing is a much more forceful push of air.
    • When we do resume congregational singing, hymns will be printed in the bulletin to eliminate the need to use hymnals.
  •  We will be keeping attendance so we can have an accurate record of who is present on what Sunday.  (In case we need this information at a later date.)
  •  Worth Hall will be closed except for bathroom emergencies.
    • Cleaning and disinfectant supplies will be outside of bathroom doors.  We would ask anyone needing to use the bathroom facilities to help wipe down/disinfect surfaces touched before leaving.
  •  At this time we will not be offering nursery care.
  •  Exiting the sanctuary will be by quadrants, utilizing all doors, including those near the front of the sanctuary, to better observe social distancing.

Just as we did in June, we want to encourage everyone to carefully assess their own level of risk, and comfort, before deciding whether or not to join us for in-person worship.  Obviously, we will continue to offer on-line worship.  While we want to see everyone, and worship with everyone, we respect that not everyone is comfortable being in close confines with others for an extended period of time.  As much as we long to see everyone, we also value everyone’s safety more.  So please chose the method of worship that best fits you and your family’s needs.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me, or one of your elders.  We would be happy to talk with you.

Online Worship Only – Beginning July 5, 2020

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No In-Person Worship

On June 21 we began offering in-person worship with particular guidelines to help us offer a safe environment in which to gather.  It was our hope that this would be an on-going alternative to our on-line worship experience.  However, with the number of positive cases of Covid-19 in Columbus County continuing to go up, with some updated guidelines from Presbytery, and some other technical issues on our side, the Session has made the decision to suspend in-person worship beginning this Sunday, July 5.

We will revisit this decision towards the end of July with the hope that we can once again resume in-person worship in August.  We will be taking the month of July to work through any issues on our part and to address other concerns related to providing a safe worshiping experience.

We will continue to offer on-line worship through our various live streaming services.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of your elders.  We would be happy to talk with you.

In Christ,

Pastor Joe

In-Person Worship Announcement

First Presbyterian Church

In-Person Worship Announcement

May 31, 2020

I am excited to share with you that we will begin offering in-person worship on Sunday, June 21! For the past couple of weeks, the Worship Committee has had several meetings where we look at information/recommendations from the Presbyterian Church, (USA), the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina, the CDC, Health Department, and various other sources. We have also taken a look at how other churches are approaching resuming in-person worship.

We take worship very serious…and we take the health and well being of our members and community very serious as well. The aim of the Worship Committee was to put together a plan and process that will allow us to invite people back into the sanctuary while also providing a safe space for our gathering.

This afternoon following our service of worship the Session met, via Zoom, to hear and take action on a proposal from the Worship Committee. So, beginning Sunday, June 21 we will once again open our doors to allow us to worship face to face. But we feel in order to do so safely we must make some changes to our old normal, so the Session has approved the following guidelines for in-person worship.

-· As you arrive for worship, we will have outside doors open so no one will have to touch handles in order to enter

– Everyone needs to wear a mask/face covering when entering and exiting the sanctuary. These masks/coverings may be removed once you are seated.

– If you do not have a mask/face covering, we will have masks available.

-· As you enter and exit the sanctuary, hand sanitizer will be available.

-· Prior to June 21 we will mark the pews in the sanctuary, possibly with blue painters tape, providing guidance for appropriate social distancing. We recognize that families will be seating together so ushers will be available to provide guidance.

– We are trying to stagger seating so people are not sitting directly in front of or behind one another. (It won’t be too complicated…together we can handle this!)

-· As we begin returning to in-person worship we will not have a choir. Hopefully we can return to choral music in the near future…we will continue to monitor best practices.

·- Initially congregational singing will be limited since singing is a much more forceful push of air.

– When we do resume congregational singing, hymns will be printed in the bulletin to eliminate the need to use hymnals.

-· We will have someone keeping attendance so we can have an accurate record of who is present on what Sunday. (In case we need this information at a later date.)

-· Worth Hall will be closed except for bathroom emergencies.

– Cleaning and disinfectant supplies will be outside of bathroom doors. We would ask anyone needing to use the bathroom facilities to help wipe down/disinfect surfaces touched before leaving.

-· At this time we will not be offering nursery care.

-· Exiting the sanctuary will be by quadrants, utilizing all doors, including those near the front of the sanctuary, to better keep social distancing.

In addition to these guidelines we would encourage everyone to carefully assess their own level of risk before deciding to join us for in-person worship. We will, as we have for the past several years, continue to offer on-line worship. While we want to see everyone, and worship with everyone, we also recognize that not everyone is comfortable being in close confines with others for an extended period of time. As much as we long to see everyone, we also value everyone’s safety more.

In Christ,

Pastor Joe

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Response

First Presbyterian Church
Worship Announcement
March 15, 2020

It seems that one of my more favorite, or common sayings right now, is “These are difficult times.” During this time with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) we have so much to think about and very few definite answers.

One of the questions we are forced to ask concerns gathering for worship. Following our service of worship today the session met to discuss our worship for the coming weeks. Following some honest, and at time difficult, conversations we have made the decision to suspend our in person worship services and other church gatherings through April 4. Our plan is to resume services of worship, and other programs, on Sunday April 5, but we will also be monitoring things as that date approaches.

We appreciate your understanding of this necessary decision that none of us really wanted to make. We will be working on what our online worship experience will look like…so be sure to join us on Facebook or YouTube next Sunday morning.

In Christ,

Pastor Joe