Update: Safe Gatherings - Our Community, Our Church
Dear Fellow Riversiders,
The Safe Gatherings Committee continues to monitor local data including Duval County’s percentage of positive cases, the total number of cases, the situation in our hospitals, and our ability to join as a community of faith to adhere to our church’s safety protocols. Our protocols are guided by the recommendations of the CDC and our medical and scientific experts. We continue to be inspired and encouraged by the willingness of all to follow RPC’s guidelines. Because of the level of support for the safety protocols we have in place, we are recommending that we continue with our limited, in-person worship and that our youth continue to enjoy some fellowship time together as they, too, comply with the protocols established for their events. At each of our weekly committee meetings we evaluate whether any of these events should be cancelled. We will continue with our evaluation process and will cancel events if local conditions warrant.
Though we are beginning to see some downward trends in some of the COVID-19 case data for Duval County, those trends are not consistent enough to indicate that offering additional opportunities would be advisable. Since the percentage of positive tests has not yet returned to a low range, we will be implementing another safeguard to minimize further the possibility of spreading the virus.
Those who are able to attend in-person worship will have their temperature checked by one of our sidewalk greeters. The greeter will be wearing a mask and face shield and will use a forehead thermometer. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be asked to worship at home and to take good care to get well.
We’ve also considered the use of face shields. Face shields may be worn on the RPC campus in conjunction with a face mask, but not as a substitute for a face mask. The face shield worn with a face mask provides an additional layer of protection for the mouth and nose as well as a layer of protection for the eyes. Face masks will continue to be required for adults and children at all times when on the RPC campus and they must be worn correctly - that is, covering the mouth and nose. We understand that for some, wearing a face mask for an hour may aggravate an underlying breathing condition and may even be unsafe for the wearer. If you are one of those, we ask that you continue to worship online at home and we encourage you reach out to the clergy, staff, and others in our church family for support, if needed. When we have widespread access to a vaccine, we will be able to eliminate the mask requirement. Until then, we must do whatever we can to help keep everyone safe.
As our local case percentages and totals decline, we will begin to offer additional opportunities. Our clergy, program staff, and committees are planning for Pastor Lays' arrival and we hope to safely offer some in-person events. We also hope to begin offering some in-person children’s programs and small group opportunities. We will keep you fully informed of both the schedule and the safety protocols.
We will say again that it is always our goal to protect the health of every person at every event. Our online resources provide us with wonderful worship, education, fellowship, and committee opportunities even when we aren’t able to gather in-person. Our faith journey continues as we use these new tools to learn and grow. We are grateful to be on that journey with you.
As always, we welcome your input, questions, suggestions, and prayers. And let’s all continue to pray for protection, a vaccine, and a cure.
Blessings to you all,
The Safe Gatherings Committee,
Kathy Para, Chair
Dave Tuttle, Secretary & Staff Support