Monday, Sept. 21, 2020
A Recap of yesterday's Congregational Meeting

Thank you to the approximately 80 participants that joined us for yesterday's Congregational Meeting via Zoom.

The first order of business was to affirm the nomination of Bob Costello to complete the term of Elder Ben Coleman. This was accepted, and Bob will now participate in Elder training, and be ordained in a future worship service.
The second order of business was in regard to Rev. J.C. Austin's call as senior pastor here at First Pres.

As you may or may not know/remember, he was called as our pastor beginning on
Nov. 27, 2017.
However he was called for a set term of three years rather than the typical “indefinite” term of an installed pastor. In Presby-speak, this is known as being a Designated Pastor, because you are installed for a designated period of time, usually at least two years and no more than four at a time, though the term can be either renewed or converted to an indefinite/“permanent” call by the congregation.

This decision to make the position a designated one was due to the congregation still being in schism at the time, and it was felt that we could be in all kinds of different configurations with different needs within a three-year timeframe, and so the pastoral leadership might need to shift accordingly to ensure a person with the right gifts was in the position.

At the recommendation of Session, Rev. Austin's term of call has been modified and it no longer has a specified timeframe.

Another important step in the growth of our church!
Reminders for Sunday's Combined Worship

Because of the overall wonderful experience we had with our first Combined Worship service held outside, as well as on Facebook Live, we will offer it again this coming Sunday, Sept. 21.

We have made two adjustments: first, and most importantly, we will begin at 11 a.m.
This is to accommodate our tech team's expanded set-up for this kind of service.

Secondly - because things went well on Aug. 30 - we will offer a time for a physically distanced "social time" after the outdoor service concludes. There will be no refreshments served.

If you did not attend on Aug. 30 and are considering coming this Sunday, please review these important protocols:
First, if you have not already done so, please send in an RSVP (via this online form) so we have both a sense of how many people will be there and a head start on gathering contact information for all attendees (see below). If you have previously told us you were coming but will not be, please let us know so we can plan accordingly.
Please remember that the CDC, and therefore the Session, continues to recommend that people with one or more conditions that make you a high risk for contracting COVID-19 not attend large gatherings (please check it here). This is why we will continue to offer the livestream on Facebook Live this Sunday as we have for months for anyone who needs to stay at home or simply prefers to do so.

And just a note that we are watching the weather - as we write this there is a chance of precipitation. So we will make a decision on Saturday if we need to postpone the outdoor service. That information will be on our website, Facebook page, church phone message, and sent via email to our newsletter mailing list.

As you make your plans for Sunday – deciding whether you will attend in person or watch from home – please note that everyone needs to bring their own chair(s) and be able to carry them and set them up yourselves; we will not have any chairs available from the church, nor will volunteers (or bystanders) be able to assist you because of physical distancing protocols.

Similarly, if you have physical limitations and need assistance, you will need to arrange for anyone providing assistance to come with you; it is unsafe for both you and our volunteers for them to help you physically. We will have disability parking reserved in the South Lot closest to the worship area for anyone who needs it (please let us know at info@fpc-bethlehem.org).
When you arrive on Sunday morning for the 11 a.m. service, plan to come a little earlier than you normally do, because it will take longer for you to get settled. When you drive in, volunteers will direct you to a parking space, ensuring that there are empty spaces between cars to provide distancing. 
Volunteers will be wearing yellow safety vests for easy visibility. Once you are parked, everyone should remain in your car with their masks on until a volunteer approaches you; those masks must stay on at all times until you are back in your car and ready to leave.

The volunteer will check you off the RSVP list and/or ensure we have your contact information; this is required for contact tracing purposes in case any attendee tests positive for COVID-19 within the next two weeks.

The volunteer will then give you a card assigning your household to your own personal “pod” (seating area) and a worship bulletin. FYI, both the cards and bulletins were copied three days earlier and set aside in a secure area until Sunday morning, and volunteers handing them out on Sunday will be gloved, so virus transmission risk is at an absolute minimum there.

In addition to your chair(s), you may also bring your own water, umbrella, bug spray, sunscreen, etc. into your pod. You will need to remain in your pod at all times until you are dismissed at the end of the service (see below); please do not “mingle” with others. If you have any trash for whatever reason, you are asked to take it out and dispose of it at home; there will not be trash cans available.
Restrooms are available in the North Link and near the South Entrance, should you need them. A volunteer can direct you if you are unsure where to go, but please remember to maintain 6 feet of physical distance in talking to them and/or waiting in line for the restroom.
During the service itself, you will continue to wear a mask at all times; worship leaders will do so as well except when they are actively speaking or singing. As for singing, only the worship leader will sing; it will be tempting to sing along in a low voice, but please do not give into temptation! Singing is one of the most dangerous activities possible in the COVID era, so sing with your heart and spirit but not with your voice. We will pray the Lord’s Prayer together aloud, but please do so softly, as even normal conversation levels bear a degree of risk.

At the end of the service, you will be directed to where you can safely interact with others.

Thank you again for embracing these new protocols! We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!