October 6, 2020
 
Dear Colleagues – Greetings to you in the name of Christ.

Autumn is here! The change in the season means that many of you are making decisions about whether to move your worship services inside, return to on-line/Zoom, or to another form of worship. As each local setting of the church discerns how to best care for members of their congregation physically and spiritually, as well as be a witness and share Christ’s love to the wider community, your PCC staff holds you in prayer in this season of discernment and decision. Neither the discernment nor the decisions are particularly easy or clear. In an effort to be helpful and also transparent, I’m writing to share with you the updated recommendations from your PCC staff regarding worship and staff travel. Please remember that these are our recommendations. You and your leadership must make your own decisions about how you will worship, and we will continue to respect your choices.

1.     If you are moving your worship back inside (or if you’re already there) we continue to recommend social distancing, wearing masks at all times, and very limited or no singing. We are fully aware that the recommendation about singing remains the most controversial of worship topics. Discussions of this topic will likely increase as we approach Advent and Christmas. We strongly encourage you to begin conversations about this now so you have plans in place for the upcoming liturgical season.
 
2.     The size of an indoor assembly will depend on your ability to socially distance from one another, and on the amount of fresh air that enters into the worship space during worship. Churches are not (and never were) beholden to the Governor’s limits on interior meeting groups. However, the staff has consistently recommended conforming to them out of an abundance of caution. Ultimately church leadership will determine the capacity of each building and how best to use the space. The staff recommends no more than 50% capacity along with continued social distancing, as well as attending to the circulation of fresh air in the sanctuary.
 
3.     Members of your PCC staff (Carrie, Marisa, Nora and Zoe) are available for preaching and leading in worship. We are currently committed to leading worship only in those situations that have masking, distancing and no singing. However, please contact the staff person directly so that each can make her own decision based on your church practices. Staff will ultimately decide which situations are comfortable for them. Please note, a number of our staff have underlying health conditions and must maintain strict limits on in-person contact.
 
Finally, we recognize that people are tired: tired of Covid and all it brings – limitations, cancellations, fear, grief, in-fighting, and frustration – to name a few. Please, please stay connected with your Conference staff through email and let us know what you need and how we can assist you and your ministry settings. And please keep in mind the words of the apostle Paul: “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Peace,

Carrie

Rev. Carrie Call, PhD
Conference Minister
Penn Central Conference
United Church of Christ
Penn Central Conference | Website