From the Office of the General Assembly 


Now Extended through 
May 5

A new update regarding
GA & Convention plans will be issued in early May.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This week's pastoral letter finds us awaiting further guidance (at least in the U.S.) as to how states and local governments will implement the COVID-19 task force phased re-opening of the nation.  Social distancing guidelines will be with us for quite some time, even when the green light is given to begin gathering at our church facilities.  
This letter is focused on providing ministers and churches with more resources as you are already thinking about what is important in opening your churches back up safely.  Please continue to check the CDC guidance for faith-based organization.
1.  On Sunday evening, April 26, 2020, Rev. Courtney Krueger, Chattanooga TN First CPC, hosted a ZOOM meeting for TN-GA Presbytery on "COVID-19 and the Cumberlands."  The presenter was Rae Bond from the Charleston TN CPC.  Rae is on the TN Department of Health's COVID-19 Disparities Task Force and Executive Director of the Chattanooga Medical Society.  Attached is a document, "Guidance for Churches" (click here) that she provided.  The Zoom recording of the presentation is available on You Tube:  
Here are some highlights from the presentation:
* All hard surfaces should be cleaned/disinfected every 2 hours in all common areas.

* Social distancing and wearing masks will be important for a long time, including maintaining 6' apart from non-family members in church.  Marking off 6' intervals and alternating pews is suggested

* How will social distancing be mainta ined for the choir?
* Put up temporary signs with guidelines.
* When is it safe to have children's programs, VBS, camps, etc.?
* Once groups the size of your church are cleared to gather, begin worship and other activities when you are confident you can maintain social distancing and sanitize all hard surfaces.  
*Rethink how offerings will be collected.   Passing the plate is not recommended.  Perhaps a box somewhere in the church could be available.  Volunteers who count the collection should wear gloves.  Encourage online giving and checks mailed to the church.
* When offering communion, follow social distancing guidelines.  Persons distributing the elements should wear gloves.
* For many states, it will be probably be 4 weeks before groups over 50 people can gather.       
2. Rev. TJ Malinoski wrote an article "Celebrating the Sacraments During Quarantine."
3. There are some excellent articles on a website by Ken Braddy of Lifeway Christian Resources.  Examples are:
"24 Questions Your Church Should Ask Before People Return"    (April 18, 2020)
"Reopening the Church: 4 Phases for an Orderly Return"     (April 22, 2020)
"24 More Questions the Church Should Ask Before People   Return " (April 25, 2020)
  To view these resources and more, go to:    and look for the COVID-19 Resources section.
May you continue to experience the peace of Christ during this Eastertide season,
Shelia O'Mara                                               

Mike Sharpe
Stated Clerk