AN UPDATE FROM THE SESSION

October 17, 2020 
 
The CPC session recently met in order to discuss the risk factors associated with Covid-19 and the related policies and procedures that were put in place earlier this year. It was determined that while there continues to be some level of risk associated with resuming normal services, there also happen to be serious spiritual, physical and mental impacts related to prolonged isolation (for some of the physical and mental impacts, see The Great Barrington Declaration:  https://gbdeclaration.org). 
 
After evaluating the pros and cons of various protocols, effective this Sunday, October 18th, the session is no longer requesting that CPC families attend our worship services every other week, but are now welcome to join us every Lord’s Day. We will still continue to practice social distancing, but in order to accommodate more people on Sunday mornings, we have added some additional chairs to the sanctuary and cry room, and have also created an overflow space in the fellowship area. Parents with infants should now use the cry room from the beginning of the service to make more room available in the sanctuary, and the overflow space will be available for those in higher risk categories, or in the case that seating should become limited.
 
As we try to accommodate those who desire to attend our weekly worship services, we encourage all our members to continue to practice recommended safety protocols throughout the week and while at CPC. We will continue to stream our services online and we fully respect the choice of those who will choose to continue worshiping at home during this time. We also encourage all those in higher risk categories to exercise wisdom and caution with respect to when they might choose to return to in-person worship.
 
All other recommendations are still in effect. Please see below for the full letter to the congregation from May 31, 2020.

In Person Worship Guidelines

May 31, 2020

Dear Congregation and Friends of Christ Presbyterian Church,

Greetings in Jesus’ name!  We pray this update finds you and your loved ones staying well and healthy during the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.  This continues to be a challenging and trying time for our nation, our state, and the world.  We continue to pray and trust that our Savior God will see us through this time and use it to draw our eyes and hearts all the more heavenward.

The Session has been working on plans and making preparations for returning to regular, in-person worship services with a target start date of Sunday, June 7.  We will be dividing the congregation into two groups in order to maintain sufficient social distancing.  So, unfortunately, for the time being we can’t all be together at the same time.  Each person will be able to attend every other week.  You’ll be contacted shortly with your assigned Sunday details. 

As we prepare to resume in-person worship services, we’d like to give you an explanation of our plans as well as a summary of important guidelines so we can all be ready for that day.  We have been monitoring CDC recommendations as well as that of local government agencies and have done our best to set up plans in light of those recommendations.  Before detailing our plans for you, we’d like to address three points.

First, if you are not comfortable with returning to in-person worship yet, please continue to join us for worship from home via the livestream.  We do not believe you are wrong for making that decision and no one will judge you for it.  There is plenty of uncertainty with this virus.  We recognize that we won’t all draw the same conclusions.  We respect your decisions in this regard.  For those of you who are already at higher risk of complications should you become infected with the coronavirus, we especially encourage you, for the time being, to think carefully whether it’s time to return to in-person worship or not.

Second, for those who do return to in-person worship, please remember to practice social-distancing including refraining from handshakes, hugs, and any other physical contact with non-household members.  And, please do your best to remain at least six feet apart from non-household members.

Third, while we have chosen not to require everyone to wear a mask during worship, if you would like to wear a mask and/or gloves, by all means, please do so.  Our decision is not meant to keep anyone from wearing a mask or gloves.

We’ve broken down the plans and guidelines into five sections.

1. Entry to and Exit from the Building
Entry

We are attempting to maintain a one-way flow for entry and exit. When you arrive, please plan to enter the building only from the doors that show the address “2154”. These are the doors nearer to the office area. We plan to have the doors propped open to minimize the need either for congregants or greeters to touch the handles. We will have hand sanitizer available, which we encourage you to use upon entry. Bulletins will be place ahead of time on each seat in the sanctuary, so no one will be handing them out as you enter. Our greeters and ushers will be provided with masks and will maintain sufficient physical distance to comply with recommended social distancing. They will guide you to the sanctuary which will be entered via the rear set of doors. As you enter, please select a place to sit according to your household size, i.e., if you are only one or two people, sit in a section with only two chairs in the row; if you are three or four, sit in a section with four chairs in the row; etc. Ushers will be on hand to help with the process.

Exit

At the end of the service, we will dismiss by rows starting from the front of each section. Those seated in the back several rows will exit through the rear doors, head through the fellowship hall and office area, and leave the building through the doors used to enter the building before worship—the 2154 doors. Those seated in the forward portion of the auditorium will exit through the forward doors and leave the building through 2156 doors—those nearest the sanctuary.

We kindly ask that you not linger in the building but exit as quickly as possible after the end of the service. If you choose to chat with others after worship, please do so outside the building and remember to maintain sufficient social distances from one another and to avoid handshaking, hugging, and other forms of physical contact.

2. The Worship Service
Attendance and Livestream

As mentioned above, due to our space limitations, you will be asked to attend in-person services every other week. Someone will be in touch with you shortly to let you know which week you’ve been assigned. We will continue to provide a livestream of the worship so those who are at home can participate in that form. Details will be forthcoming in a separate communication.

Format

Our service will follow the basic format in use prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is being modified in order to minimize the risk of spreading illness should someone be infected with the coronavirus. Since the virus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets, singing and other forms of forceful speech increase the risk of transmission especially in an enclosed space and with prolonged exposure. For this reason, we will limit hymns to a maximum of two (2) per service—often it might be only one (1)—and no more than four (4) stanzas per hymn. We’ll close the service with the Doxology in lieu of the Threefold Amen. Responsive readings will not be used. Other congregationally spoken portions, like the confession of sin, will be minimized and we’ll only use short creeds like the Apostles’.

Lord’s Supper

We plan to resume weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Initially, we will use pre-packaged communion elements. At the appropriate time in the service, you’ll be invited by rows to come forward to pick up the elements and then return to your seat. You’ll only need to come forward once since both the bread and the cup will be in a single package. We’ll continue our custom of partaking simultaneously once everyone has received the elements.

Offering

We will not collect an offering during the service so that we are not passing plates. A box into which you can place your offering will be available near both the forward and rear doors of the sanctuary. Please drop off your offerings either as you enter before worship or as you exit afterwards. The option to give online will continue to be available through our website and, for those who prefer, checks can be mailed to the church or dropped off through the mail slot during the week.

3. Coffee/Snacks, Cry Room, Nursery, and Restrooms

For the time being, coffee and snacks will not be provided or permitted.  Unfortunately, this also means fellowship meals won’t be scheduled either at this point.  We all look forward to the day we can resume all these times for enjoying one another’s company!

The cry room may be used during worship as parents deem necessary.  However, we remind you to maintain appropriate distances if anyone else is in the room at the same time.  This means the number of parents and children in the room at the same time needs to be kept to a minimum since it’s not a large room.  Staffed nursery will not be provided.  Should you need to use the changing station in the nursery, please don’t stay in there beyond the time necessary to use the station and please don’t allow your children to play in there.  Restrooms will be available for use.  Should you need to use them, please be sure to practice good hygiene including washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

4. In Case of Illness while at Church

If you become ill while at church, please notify one of the elders or deacons. Then, head home immediately. In case someone takes ill and is unable to leave quickly, we have designated the room next to the office as the “sick room.” We will direct the ill individual to that room until they can leave or emergency medical personnel arrive to care for them.

5. General Policies

Please keep in mind CDC and state recommendations for hygiene and social distancing. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds each time. Avoid contact with anyone you know to be ill especially if you know they are infected with the coronavirus/COVID-19. If you’ve been exposed to the virus, please stay home. If you feel unwell, are sick, or even simply think you might be ill or beginning to be, please stay home. The same applies to your household—if one person is ill or might be, the whole household is asked to remain at home. If you become ill, please don’t attend worship in person until you are confirmed not to have COVID-19 and your symptoms have cleared up or, at a minimum, you have self-quarantined for at least 14 days. We also urge and encourage you to take all necessary and appropriate precautions to minimize your risk of getting COVID-19. In this way, when we do gather, we minimize the risk for the whole congregation.

If you are aged 65 or older or have any underlying health conditions that put you at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19 regardless of your age, for your own sake and that of your loved ones, for the time being, we strongly urge you to consider continuing to worship from home by joining us via the livestream option rather than in-person attendance.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
Serving our Savior Together, 

The Session

A Special Note to our Visitors

 Thank you for your interest in Christ Presbyterian Church. If you would like to visit or attend regularly, please provide your name, email address, and telephone number as well as the date you would like to attend through the link below. We will do our very best to accommodate your request. Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time. We look forward to meeting and welcoming you!