June 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

To say that this time of quarantine has been hard on all of us is an understatement. As a church we miss worshiping and having fellowship together. There are many feelings related to this “separateness,” none of which are positive. We want to get back to church! Unfortunately, we are not ready to open the building but it's important to inform you about how we are foreseeing the future. The decision was made by the Worship Committee and the Consistory not to open the building until we are safely in the Green Zone and then to take significant precautions. Once we are in the Green Zone, the Worship Committee and the Consistory will re-evaluate the situation. All decisions were made with the safety of the entire congregation in mind, following guidelines from the CDC as well as the Governor of PA and suggestions made by the Penn Northeast Conference.

Unfortunately, our time together worshiping will be different for a very long time. For example;

·         Singing will not be permitted
·         Our wonderful choir will not be singing
·         No one will be permitted to greet at the door
·         There will be no bulletins, no ushers
·         For the time being hymnals will be put away
·         Social distancing will require that we stay 6 – 8 feet away from each other in the sanctuary
·         Wearing masks will be necessary
·         Entering and leaving the building will have to be done in an orderly fashion maintaining social distancing
·         The sanctuary will have to be sanitized one hour after each use

Some of you may be asking why are we waiting until we are in the Green Zone? Some churches are opening in the Yellow Zone. Because of all of the issues we have decided not to open during the Yellow Zone for the following reasons:
·         The Yellow Zone will only allow 25 people in the building. This includes the pastor and the organist so that limits attendees to 23. No one wants to be the one standing at the door telling the 24 th person who arrived that they cannot enter.
·         Some churches are starting multiple services to accommodate the congregation. However, the sanctuary must be sanitized one hour after it has been used. If we have a service at 8:00 AM, sanitize at 9:00, have another service at 10:15 AM, then we would have to sanitize again at 11:15. This would be a tremendous amount of work for what would probably be a small group of volunteers.
·         The mere age of the congregation places many at high risk. We must err on the side of caution.

And so, this is where we are at this point. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding. We hope that you are enjoying the services online. We hope they are feeding your soul during this time and we look forward to the time when we can enjoy the presence of each other again.

On Behalf of The Consistory,
Kevin Long, President
Rev. Dr. Bruce C. Stevenson, Lead Pastor