22 May 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Last night, the Session met for its regular stated meeting. Of course, we had many of the normal conversations we might have any month regarding the life of our congregation, but there were two items of note that I need to share with you.
First, is ‘thank you’, perhaps it would be better to say, “THANK YOU!” for your patience and faithfulness and generosity toward the church. The finance committee reported to us that despite all that is happening in the world and the economy, the congregation has maintained it financial commitments. We remain fiscally sound and financially stable.
Second was the big question of the evening, when shall we re-open our doors for worship? Last month I promised that the Session would consider this question at our May meeting. The Session has decided that the church would re-open its doors for meetings and worship beginning May 31, Pentecost Sunday.
It was not an easy decision, and one that for some in the church has come too soon while others would consider it over-due. The health and safety of our congregation and community remain our highest priority. Therefore, this will not quite be a return to “normal.” Our re-opening plan comes with guidelines we hope will reduce any risk to those who join us for worship. These guidelines will be included with this letter.
Here are a few highlights:
- Worship will continue to be broadcasted live on Facebook for those who are not yet comfortable worshiping in person.
- We encourage persons considered to be of greater risk from COVID19 to remain safely at home.
- Those attending worship will be expected to follow the social distancing measures outlined in the attached guidelines.
- We will not be serving coffee and donuts, but you are welcome to bring your own.
- There will be no Sunday School classes meeting between services. This will reduce congestion in the narthex and allow us to clean communal spaces between services. Sunday school classes are encouraged to meet at alternative times in coordination with the church office.
- Childcare (nursery) will not be available until detailed plans for safe operation are developed.
- Communion will be served on the first Sunday of the month as usual, but those desiring to participate are asked to bring their own elements. There will be a limited number of individual self-contained pre-filled cup with juice and wafer for visitors and those who forget.
The Session will continue to monitor developments and the congregation’s compliance with these guidelines. The Session will re-evaluate this decision at its June meeting.
We ask that you remain patient with us and pray for us as we enter this next season in the life of the church.
Your Servant in Christ,
Mitch Miller, Pastor
Guidelines for Reopening Santa Fe Presbyterian Church On Sunday, May 31, 2020
Santa Fe Presbyterian Church plans to reopen on Sunday, May 31 depending upon the course of the COVID-19 virus. These guidelines are temporary and will be modified as the situations change. Having been approved by the Session these guidelines will be conveyed to the congregation.
The safety of the members of Santa Fe Presbyterian and our visitors is of primary importance. The main concern is to ensure that the building is sanitized and disinfected after use, paying special attention to those areas that are frequently touched, such as door handles, light switches, countertops and any items that come in contact with those attending the services. This will be accomplished by volunteer a cleaning crews, the groups who use the building, and those with whom we have contracted for cleaning.
- The virtual online worship services will continue.
- Bibles, hymnals and other items should be removed from the back of the chairs temporarily.
- Disinfectants, such as hand sanitizers and wipes, should be available at several locations to those attending the services.
- Upon entering the church, please maintain safe-distancing practices and we recommend the use of facial coverings over the nose and mouth, as well as wear gloves.
- Those with health conditions that place them at higher risk are encouraged to stay at home. Additionally, anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case should not enter the church building. Those who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have been in contact with a confirmed case should wait to return after a 14-day quarantine period.
- Inside the Sanctuary, only people from the same households can sit together and everyone else should sit with at least two seats open between them. Every other row shall also be kept empty to allow proper spacing in front and behind people.
- Starting in the month of June, funerals, weddings, baptisms. memorials, receptions, choir practice, Kids Praise, Boys Scouts, and any other events may be held at the church. These gatherings will be allowed provided safe-distancing practices are maintained and are coordinated with the church office. These groups are expected to clean and disinfect any areas used at the end of their gathering.
- The collection plate will not be passed, and an offering plate will be placed in the back of the church.
- Childcare (nursery) will not be available until plans for safe operation can be developed.
- Communion will be celebrated, but requires that participants bring their own elements. A limited number of self-contained, pre-sealed communion juice and wafers will be available for visitors and others.
- The current music ministry will continue with the following adjustments:
- the Chancel Choir and Mustard Seed will not be used, hymns and songs will be led by small teams of musicians and vocalists at the direction of the Minister of Music and shall maintain safe-distancing practices,
- other worshipers may sing along only if they are wearing facial coverings,
- Hospitality – The kitchen shall be closed. No food or drink shall be served (including coffee). Members may bring their own coffee in appropriate containers. Socializing before and after the services in the church building should be limited and follow social distancing guidelines.
- Greeters – During this time, greeters should wear facial coverings and stand back six feet as they welcome people verbally. Shaking hands is discouraged. Visitors will be asked to sign a visitor pad placed in the narthex, so that we may have a record of their visit.
- Sunday School – Will not meet during the regular Sunday School hour between services in order to allow cleaning between services and reduce congestion in the narthex. Any class wishing to meet at the church or online, may do so at other times by coordinating meeting times and places with the church office. These classes are expected to maintain safe-distancing practices and to clean and sanitize areas used after their meeting.