As you may have read in my message of May 26, we’ve formed a Task Force of uniquely skilled church members to accomplish one goal: develop a detailed plan for Session to follow, when the time is right, to bring everyone back to our building, and keep everyone safe in the process. We share the desire to be together again, but we also understand how serious this virus can be. Any plan to gather must first be attentive to the safety of our congregation, many of whom may be at higher risk.
The task force has met and is reviewing the guidelines available from the CDC, Donegal Presbytery, and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as real-life experiences of other churches, school systems, and hospitals, which have also begun such planning. There are still more questions than answers surrounding Covid-19, and a myriad of issues must be examined and addressed to have a workable and safe plan to return. These issues include:
- physical space and capacity limitations due to distancing requirements
- building access limitations and restrictions
- facility preparedness and cleaning accommodations
- safety and security measures for members and staff at increased risk of infection
Our region is currently in the state-designated “red zone”, but when we’ve moved to yellow, that status will still not allow for us to gather safely. Even when moved to green, it’s important to know that does not mean everything is “back to normal.” We may have to consider doing many things differently. We need to provide an environment where our congregation can be safe and feel comfortable in worship together. It may not be possible to open everything at once. A phased approach may be considered to meet these needs.
Given the issues we must address, the task force believes it is unlikely we will be able to re-open the building for in-person worship before the end of the summer.
The task force will meet regularly to continue reviewing all available information as we develop plans to bring us back together. We will keep you informed of our progress. We welcome any comments, and we covet your prayers for our work.
In the interim, let us all continue to “be the church” and bring the Gospel’s message of love, hope and joy to all. Let us continue to seek ways to help people in need and support those whose life circumstances make this pandemic especially difficult. Let us continue to worship, pray, study, ZOOM, email, call, and do all the things we can, right now, to be the salt and light of the world. And when we can all do so safely, we will gather in-person again to celebrate and worship together.
May God continue to bless Westminster’s ministry during this challenging season.