Greetings First Church members and friends!
Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m sure many of you are concerned about the coronavirus and how it may impact us here in the United States. As Christians we are not to give into fear. At the same time, we are to act wisely and take proper precautions when we can. Part of loving our neighbor means watching out for each other’s health.
The Surgeon General met with church leaders this week and gave general guidelines for churches to follow at this time. Although the risk to any individuals in the U.S. of contracting the disease is extremely low there are certain bestpractices churches can follow to minimize any risk.
I have been in contact with Rev. Deborah Blood, ME UCC Maine Conference Minister and colleagues on the various ways we can continue safely worshiping in our church settings. We can make simple modifications to help keep our members and community healthy and safe.
Should I stay home?
- Use good judgement. Older individuals, those with underlying health concerns or a compromised immune system may want to seriously consider this option, but we trust you to make that decision.
- Those who have recently
traveled to an area with known widespread or sustained community
transmission of the new coronavirus should also seriously consider staying
home for a couple of weeks, even if you don’t have
symptoms. Community transmission means the virus is being passed
around within the community and not just affecting those who have traveled
outside that community. College students returning home should keep
this standard in mind before coming to worship.
If you are joining us for worship
- Greet your neighbor without touching: We are asking those gathering for worship to no longer shake hands or share hugs. With a smile and a wave, we can share a warm welcome without sharing anything else. The pastor will be following these same guidelines before and after the service.
- Our sexton has been asked to spend a little more time than usual disinfecting high contact areas. You can do your part by washing hands regularly with soap and water. Washing is always best, but there is also hand-sanitizer (if available) at each entrance to the meeting house and Ober Hall. Despite best efforts to keep hands clean, it is a good idea to keep your hands away from your eyes and mouth.
- Cover up any coughs and sneezes with a clean tissue or handkerchief. In the absence of these, the elbow pit works well too.
- When visiting with others, social distancing is another way to help protect yourself and others. This means standing further away from others than you normally would when visiting. It also includes avoiding sitting directly in front of or behind someone during worship.
- Rather than pass the plates around during worship, the ushers will hold the offering plate for you to give your offering. We are avoiding passing anything from hand to hand.
- With the above in mind, April 5th Full Communion may be postponed.
- Coffee hour may also be modified or suspended.
How can I stay connected?
- The Pastor and Deacons are undertaking the work of reaching out to our entire church membership directly during this time. We want to make sure everyone is feeling safe and that people have what they need. If you are a member expect a phone call in the next week or so. We encourage you to check on neighbors and friends, especially those who might be susceptible to more serious outcomes.
How can I learn of future changes/or cancellations?
- We will be using this same method of communication if more changes are in order. We will also be posting this information on our website and on social media.
- If you have a specific questions and can’t find the answer, don’t hesitate to call Pastor Charlotte at 603-582-0117, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Chair of Deacons Laura Burne at 207-423-9213, email email@example.com and Moderator Carol Cook at 207-967-3076, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We will rejoice to join
with you in fellowship and worship, whether that happens soon with the
modifications above or in a few weeks when the crisis has slowed or
passed. Either way, know that your church is taking this seriously and is
following the guidance of the CDC and our regional leadership. We are
also holding you all in our prayers.
In Christian Love,
Charlotte E.Y. Bell & The Leadership of First Congregational Church of