Tuesday, May 18
Dear fellow Riversiders,

Though the pandemic is clearly not behind us, we are making strides in returning to normalcy! 

You may have seen the new guidance recently issued by the CDC:
  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
  • Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
If you read through the page of guidance on the CDC website, there is additional information from the CDC regarding the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing the spread of COVID19 and against the variants.

What does this mean for RPC worship?
Clearly this is wonderful news! The Safe Gatherings Committee is suggesting that we move ahead in this manner:

Starting with the May 23rd Worship Service:
  • Reservations
  • Reservations are no longer required to attend worship or Sunday School.
  • Masks
  • We require all children and adults who are not fully vaccinated, are immunocompromised or unable to be vaccinated due to health concerns to continue to wear a face mask. We will rely on people to use the honor system. Some fully vaccinated people may prefer to continue wearing a mask. Consistent with the CDC guidance, fully vaccinated persons are not required to wear a mask. 
  • Hymnals and Singing
  • The hymnals will be in the pew racks and we will resume congregational singing.
  • Social Distancing
  • The ushers will still be facilitating distancing as much as possible by leaving the ropes on the pews. Every other pew will be open for seating. Ushers will take down ropes and will use additional pews only if the additional seating space is needed.
  • Requesting Socially Distanced Seating
  • We will have some socially distanced seating available, but If you would like to attend worship and feel that social distancing is important for you, please call the church office (355-4585) or call or email Kathy Para (904-651-1081, parakathy@gmail.com). Tell us that you’re calling to request socially distanced seating in worship. Be sure to also tell us the date of the worship service you plan to attend. We want to be sure we have enough socially distanced seating available for all who want it. We will accommodate your request! 
  • Time with the Younger Church
  • Pastor Brian will be inviting the children forward to the chancel steps and floor for a time with the younger church. We ask parents to ensure their unvaccinated children are masked. Pastor Brian will encourage each child to find a blue “X” on the steps or floor and to sit on that “X” realizing that children may claim a different spot.
  • Friendship Pads
  • The Friendship Pads will be placed on the end of each pew closest to the center aisle. Sign the pad, pass it down, and then pass it back so all can review the names of those worshipping on their pew. 
  • Offering
  • For now, we will continue to use the black and white offering boxes placed at each door for offerings and notes to our pastors.
  • Communion (first Sundays)
  • For now, we will continue using the individually packaged communion supplies.

You may be interested to know that as people checked in for worship on May 16th, we conducted an informal poll of those in attendance. We asked all adults (who were willing) to check the column that was appropriate for them: I am not vaccinated; I have received one dose; I am fully vaccinated. Eighty adults participated in the poll. Seventy-six checked that they are fully vaccinated and four checked that they had received one dose of the vaccine. Assuming that May 16th was a representative Sunday, with this number of fully vaccinated persons in worship, the likelihood of virus exposure is low. Again, we are asking that ALL (children and adults) who are not vaccinated continue to wear a mask or continue to worship online.

We hope that our community-wide vaccination rates will rise significantly as this is an important factor in limiting the prevalence of the virus in Duval County. Our local data indicators continue to trend in the right direction - more vaccines, fewer cases. Though these trends are not progressing as quickly as we’d like, we hope they will proceed steadily.

If you’d like help arranging for and getting a vaccination or if you’re unable to receive the vaccine and would like accommodation for socially distanced seating in worship, please contact Kathy Para, parakathy@gmail.com, 904-651-1081 or call the church office, 904-355-4585.

We’ve stood together through this pandemic to protect each other and we’re returning to near normalcy as the caring community that is RPC. When we worship together online and in-person we are Riverside Presbyterian Church. Throughout this pandemic, your comments have been very important to us. Please keep sending us your feedback, concerns, and questions.

Blessings to each of you,

The Safe Gatherings Committee

Kathy Para, Chair, parakathy@gmail.com
Barbara Bath
Michael Brumback
Maribeth Ashley
Bill Hoff
Cory Meyers
Jane Miller
Susie Morrow
Dave Tuttle, Secretary & Staff Support