Dear First Presbyterian Church Family:
We had a called meeting of the Session and Trustees last night to discuss COVID-19 protocols in the church. The Session has tied many of our COVID-19 protocols to the recommendations of the South Heartland District Health Department, particularly the risk dial needle that is updated weekly: https://southheartlandhealth.org/public-health-data/covid-19-risk-dial.html
Last week, the risk dial needle moved onto the line between moderate and low risk of spread of COVID-19 in our local community. It is expected to drop into the green/low risk category this week. Due to this adjustment in risk and following the recommendations of the South Heartland District Health Department, Session voted to change our COVID-19 protocols in the church.
Effective today, 6/29/21, the new COVID-19 safety protocols include:
- If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, masks are optional inside the church building, including in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings during worship.
- If you are not fully vaccinated, masks are still required in the church building at all times. The church will not be checking vaccination status of people coming in our building, this will be done on the honor system and we hope that our members as well as community users of the building will abide by this policy.
- Social distancing is no longer required in the building, or in the sanctuary during worship. We will remove the ropes in the sanctuary and people can sit where they are most comfortable. The social distancing guidelines for committee meetings, adult education classes, and community groups has also been lifted, so these can resume in all the spaces in our building.
- Singing in the sanctuary on Sunday morning will still be limited. The science tells us that singing in an indoor space poses a significant risk of spreading COVID-19, so we will continue to limit singing indoors, particularly now that masks are optional and social distancing is no longer required. We will continue our 9:30am service in the park this summer, weather permitting, where singing is not only allowed, but encouraged. So if you are wanting to sing hymns, please join us at that service.
These policies will remain in place until our next Session meeting on August 19, or if the local conditions worsen and we are required to revisit them. One session member said that we rejoice in the lifting of these restrictions in our building, but we also need to be ready to pivot if conditions change. We hope and pray that won’t be necessary, but we also want to prepare ourselves for that possibility. Attached you will find the new signs that will be posted around the church that explain our mask policy.
Beloved church family, your Session has done their faithful duty to steward the leadership of this church over the last 15 months through this pandemic. We know that many of you have been ready for these changes to our building use and worship protocols for some time. Thank you for your patience. We also know that for some of you these changes will likely mean that you will continue to worship from home due to family members who are not eligible for the vaccine or other reasons. Thank you for your grace and understanding. Unfortunately there is no perfect solution. We want to thank you for both your patience and grace over the last 15 months, and we ask for your continued patience and grace, as well as your prayers as we attempt to move forward as safely and faithfully as possible.
If you have any questions about these decisions, please feel free to reach out to any of your Session members or to Pastor Greg. We would be happy to discuss these things with you and we continue to be grateful for your support and your prayers.
Your Servants in Christ, Rev. Greg Allen-Pickett, Moderator of Session Kay Georgiana, Kris Horton, Harold Korb, Scott Shardelow, Mary Fisk, Bev Rader, Joe Black, Cheryl Lockwood, Kathy Amyot, Jodi Graves, Neil Riley, Ben Welsch