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April 14, 2021 Letter from Reopening Team

Dear SPC Family,

After more than a year of worshipping online for our 9:30AM Sunday service, what a joy it will be to gather for worship in person this Sunday, April 18th! Our Reopening Team, Session, Deacons, and committees have been hard at work planning for this day, and we are so excited to share with you all of the details.

This letter seeks to answer questions and concerns you may have, with as much certainty as we can give. But as has been the case since March of 2020, we are doing things we’ve never done before! So we invite you to share with us any additional questions or ideas—and we ask for your patience! We are taking the transition back to in-person worship one Sunday at a time, and we’ll make adjustments along the way as we learn and grow together.

And as a reminder, this Sunday we also have a called congregational meeting immediately following the worship service for the purpose of changing the Rev. Ashley McFaul-Erwin from a temporary pastoral relationship to an installed Associate Pastor. Please plan to stay after worship, or join the meeting on Zoom—details are below.

Where will worship be located?

We will worship outside in the parking lot circle. Please park in the lot as usual, and Deacons will welcome and guide you when you arrive. How many people can attend? Current New York State guidelines permit outdoor public gatherings up to 200 people, so we anticipate being able to accommodate all who regularly attend worship.

What do I need to bring?

Please bring a mask and your own portable chair. The Deacons will be ready to help anyone who would like assistance carrying their chair to/from their car. If you do not have a portable chair easily available, the Deacons will be happy to retrieve a folding chair for you from Fellowship Hall, or find seating that will be comfortable for you. We also encourage you to bring water in a reusable bottle, sunglasses, a blanket, or anything else that will make you comfortable as we worship outdoors. And “comfort” is also our only dress code!

Will I need to wear a mask and practice social distancing, even if I am fully vaccinated?

Yes, those who attend outdoor worship agree to the following: to wear a mask covering the mouth and nose at all times; to follow the direction of the Deacons in arriving and departing; and to honor social distancing of at least 6 feet (unless you are in the same household). These guidelines are in place because we want everyone to be and feel comfortable and safe. We’ll have extra masks available if you forget one. The worship leaders, who will be positioned at a much greater distance from the congregation, may remove their masks when speaking for clarity of sound.

What do I do when I arrive this Sunday?

2 After parking your car, you will stop at one of the tables set up adjacent to the parking lot circle. We’ll ask you to sign a sheet with your contact information and some basic COVID screening questions. This Sunday, we’ll also have nametags. Hand sanitizers will be available for your use. If you need to use the restroom, a Deacon will be ready to provide access to Fellowship Hall.

What will the service be like?

The service may vary week to week, but it will include the basic liturgical pieces, with a briefer sermon and a more informal style. We’ll make some safety adjustments, like having offering baskets available on the way in and out of the service, expressing signs of Christ’s peace without shaking hands, and using individually wrapped elements for communion. We will have paper copies of the bulletin, but we also encourage saving paper and welcome the use of personal devices during the service to download the order of worship from our website or App. Will we sing? Initially, we will not be singing because the risks are still unclear. We have arranged for instrumental music that will be part of our worship. Hymns will be played, and the words printed in the bulletin, allowing us to experience the music and words in a fresh way. And we will continually reassess the safety of singing as the weeks progress.

What if I’m not ready or able to attend worship in person?

The service will be live streamed to YouTube, and the link will be posted on our website, in our App, and in our Facebook group. If you have any questions about how to access the service, please call the church office for assistance. Thank you for understanding that our technology outdoors is limited, so the live stream video and sound may not always be smooth, there will be background noise, and we only have the capacity for a stationary shot. Please note that the live stream will only capture the worship leaders, and not the congregation—you won’t be on camera! (We are in the process of installing audio-visual equipment in the sanctuary for the future.)

What happens if the weather is bad?

Should the weather be inclement on Sunday mornings, we will pivot to online worship only, with the worship leaders live-streaming from inside the church building. If the weather is at all iffy, please check your email before you leave for the church, as we will send out a message if worship will be moved to online-only.

Why can’t we have worship in the sanctuary or Fellowship Hall?

COVID infection rates are still high locally, and outdoors is safer than indoors. Both the sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall would require limiting attendance, while worshipping outdoors gives us the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the warmer weather and welcome more people to worship, including those who may not yet be ready for a return to indoor worship.

Will there be a time of fellowship following the service?

Please enjoy talking with one another after the service from a safe social distance! We will not have refreshments. With the resumption of in-person worship, we will not have fellowship on Zoom after the service. Please also take advantage of the several opportunities during the week to connect with SPC friends on Zoom (call the church office for more information).

What about Church School and Adult Education?

Children are always welcome to stay for the entire service. A combined Church School class for ages 2 through 6th grade will be offered in the playground area starting at 9:45AM, providing children the opportunity to share in worship at the beginning of the service. Additionally, our toddler room staff person Ryan Dorfman (along with a second adult) will be at the playground during the entire service for children ages 2 and older who need to move around. Children ages 2 and older must wear a mask. Children will be signed in and out of the playground area by their adult, who will be asked to leave a cell phone number in case a trip to the restroom or other need arises for their child. If the weather is bad, and worship is online-only,

Church School will meet on Zoom at 10:30AM. An email will be sent with the link. The Adult Education class will continue to meet on Zoom, with a new start time of 10:45AM to enable everyone to travel home after the service.

Adult Education will use this Zoom link each week: Meeting ID: 833 1974 9181

Passcode: 074310

How will the congregational meeting work this Sunday?

If you are attending worship in person, simply stay after the service for the meeting. If you are worshipping from home, we invite you to log into Zoom immediately following the service to join the meeting remotely. We will use this Zoom link: Meeting ID: 833 1974 9181

Passcode: 074310

Will the weekly food drop off continue?

Yes, but it will be on Sundays instead of Monday mornings! Bring your nonperishable food donations with you to worship, and we’ll have a vehicle ready to collect them. (Food can also be dropped off to the church office during the week during the regular 9AM-2PM office hours.)

We are so very excited to see many of you this Sunday, both in person and online, and in the weeks ahead. Thank you for all of your support and flexibility over the past year and, now, as we move into yet another stage of adjustment to the pandemic. This has been an incredibly challenging time of isolation, anxiety, and grief, and you have been a resilient community grounded in love and faith. We worship the God who has accompanied us through it all.

See you on Sunday!

Peace & grace,

Your SPC staff and leadership

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