COVID Safety Procedures at First Church (9/21/2020)
As a member of the COVID Team, I was blessed to be present for our first in-person service last Sunday. The joy and energy that came from being “gathered in God’s name” was uplifting. Jesus certainly understood the isolation that fear of illness could create, and I’m convinced that his healings were aimed as much at rebuilding ties between individuals, as healing disease. The COVID safety procedures at First Church reflect the love of Jesus in a way that we hope will reduce that sense of isolation we all feel, while promoting health.
Let me explain our procedures so everyone will know what to expect. In short, we are following Connecticut State guidelines, which limit the number of persons at any indoor activity, promote physical distancing of 6’ or more, and require face coverings (masks) that cover the mouth and nose.
We meet these requirements by having people register to attend services in advance (so we can control the number present), carefully manage how people enter and leave the church, and by keeping many of pews blocked off to ensure proper distancing.
When you arrive at Church you can enter either at the ramp, or through the front door on the far left. There you will be greeted by one of the COVID Team members, who will check your name against the list of registrants. From there other COVID Team members will direct you to an open pew. The sanctuary is organized in a “checkerboard” fashion, with alternating pews blocked off.
Other than Bill Speed and possibly an additional musician, the balcony is closed. Sadly, neither the congregation nor the choir can sing, as large group singing has been linked to a number of COVID outbreaks.
To promote healthy air circulation, all the windows in the sanctuary will be open – so bring a sweater, as it may be a bit cool!
Everyone must wear a mask during the service. The only exception is that we have installed large plexiglass barriers at the pulpit that will allow Ginger or whomever is speaking to do so clearly. When the service is over, COVID Team members will dismiss people in small groups, much like at a wedding, to maintain safe distances as we depart. Once you have left the church building you are free to visit with others, but please don’t congregate by the doorways.
God made us all individuals, and we all have very different physical, psychological, and spiritual responses to these troubling COVID times. If you still don’t feel safe attending an in-person service, know that you are still very much part of our community of love. Please reach out to Ginger, Jake, or others in church leadership so that we can help answer questions and meet your needs.
COVID-Response Team Lead