Friends,

There was an issue with the toolkit link that was sent previously. This one should work properly. Our apologies for the inconvenience!

Blessings,
Tonya
May 10, 2021
 
A Letter to the Churches of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina
 
From: The Task Force on Returning to Face-to-Face Gatherings in PWNC
Blake Daniel, Dot Descieux, Dick Larson, Whit Malone, Marcia Mount
Shoop, Lauren Vanacore, Byron Wade, Billy Robinson and Cam Murchison
 
We greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and pray that your loved ones and churches are well.
 
Since our previous guidance communication was sent to you in February, COVID-19 vaccinations have continued to roll out in North Carolina, as well as across this nation. Here in our state as of today, 36.4% of citizens have received at least one dose. A number of people in our congregations, as well as friends and family members, have had at least one shot. Recently, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 209, lifting the outdoor masking mandate, except in crowded areas, and increasing mass gathering limits. Some of us have had the opportunity to spend time with others, either outdoors and/or in limited indoor settings. There seems to be a sense of hope and return to somewhat of a “new” normal life routine. 
 
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Task Force has attempted to give guidance to churches in the Presbytery. We have acknowledged that each church and ministry context is different and a one-size fits all approach or recommendation would not be helpful guidance. Our congregations are meeting in various and creative ways for worship and ministry, ranging from live-streaming to gathering in-person, for which we are so grateful. It is rewarding to see how each of you have risen to the challenges presented during this time, stepped out of your comfort zone, and kept God’s Word at the forefront of your congregation, all while observing healthy protocols along the way. “How good and pleasant it is,” the Psalmist says, “when God’s people live together in unity!” 
 
At the same time, we encourage you to continue to exercise caution. The pandemic continues to affect our nation and various COVID variants are circulating across the United States. Although approximately 40% of people in the United States are vaccinated, we are facing the moment when the current supply of vaccines is exceeding the demand. People are still being infected with the COVID-19 virus and in some cases are dying, although at a much smaller rate. COVID cases requiring hospitalization are increasing among younger people in the 30-40 age group, likely caused in part by relaxing a vigilant attitude about distancing, etc. All of these factors and more continue to be a cause for caution and watchfulness for future ministry and worship planning. We have provided a COVID church re-opening procedure tool kit here. This will also be listed in the weekly Friday “What’s Happening in PWNC” eNews.
 
We entrust each session and congregation to discern and determine the wisest and most appropriate approach for establishing guidelines for worship and ministry. We are also aware that an increasing number of church members are fully vaccinated and have a strong desire to return to be in community with one another. While this is heartening, please remember that mask-wearing and social distancing is a must in order to protect our youngest members who have not yet had the privilege of being vaccinated. Most of all, we believe that God’s grace and guidance calls us to be mindful of those in our midst, and provide a safe place for all God’s people to worship, sing praises, and work for the good of all people. We look forward to the day when we all are able to be in-person, face-to-face, not only with our loved ones, but with all of God’s children. May God’s peace be with you.

Peace,
 
Blake Daniel, Dot Descieux, Dick Larson, Whit Malone, Marcia Mount
Shoop, Lauren Vanacore, Byron Wade, Billy Robinson and Cam Murchison