First Presbyterian Church of Wayne
216 West Third St.,
Wayne, Nebraska 68787
June 26, 2020
Dear First Presbyterian family,
Grace and peace to each of you. I want to give you an update on resuming in person worship. I miss our time together and know that you do as well; however, these are unusual times which call for an unusual but measured response.
Considerations about resuming in person worship will always be made with an abundance of caution and concern for those most at risk and with guidance from the PC(USA), CDC guidelines and the best scientific knowledge available. Due to the nature of COVID 19 many practices done in worship such as singing, responsive reading and passing the peace increase the risk of virus transmission between participants. Numerous accounts show religious gatherings have led to community spread.
The Session determined at their June meeting it was not yet time to resume in person worship, we will remain in Phase One of our three phase process. Some of our members will find this decision a disappointment. Please realize this was not a decision taken lightly, but with the best interest of all members in mind.
In the May 29th newsletter, a three-phase process for re-opening was outlined. FPC is currently in Phase One. I am grateful for technology such as Zoom, Facebook and You Tube which allow us to remain connected. Weekly the printed service with video links is posted to Facebook. The video of the service is posted later in the week to Facebook and the church You Tube account. Those who do not have internet access are receiving a printed copy of the service.
The learning curve for the Zoom worship format has been steep for me as well as the congregation. I appreciate the congregation’s flexibility and understanding in this time. I am pleased to report that on an average, between all the formats, we are reaching about 45 people each week, higher than our normal summer attendance. Please feel free to share the Zoom invitation to invite others to join us. We will not post the Zoom invitation on the website or Facebook as a security precaution.
If you are not getting worship, either printed or an emailed copy, please contact me as I want to make sure people have access to worship and announcements. I am happy to email a video copy of the service to all who request it if they cannot access Facebook or You Tube.
Currently, we are looking at moving into Phase Two, resuming in person worship in August. The August date will allow the pastor a time of vacation and study leave before resuming in person and online worship. The Session will make a final determination about moving into Phase Two in mid-July.
Phase Two will not be worship as usual. Worshippers will be required to follow CDC guidelines including social distancing and wearing masks. As per CDC guidelines there will be no congregational singing, no passing of the peace, the offering plate will not be passed and fellowship following worship will be suspended. Sanitation measures such as the use of hand sanitizer will be required. Additionally, to minimize high touch surfaces we will remove Bibles and hymnals and use alternative methods for music and bulletins. Online or streamed worship will be available for those who do not feel comfortable in returning to in person worship.
Phase Three may be several months in the future and would be evidenced by the lifting of most state/county restrictions while continuing safe practices we have put into place. Online or streamed worship will continue. Even in this phase there may be adjustments, for example we may have to resume wearing masks should there be a change in the public health risks, by being cautious we hope to avoid any setbacks.
These are unprecedented times, most of us will never experience anything like this again in our lives. In a most unusual way, we have been called to show love to our neighbors by keeping our distance. It is not easy and can be frustrating, but we cannot go back to the way things were until we can assure the safety of all. In the meantime, consider these words from 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” May the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of this faith community for others, as well as the display of self-discipline and patience, guide us in the days ahead.
Grace and peace be with you,
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)