March 12, 2020
Dear members and friends,
This week the Parish Committee formed the Safe Congregations Task Force to help plan and prepare as our community responds to the coronavirus. The members of the task force are Andy Clark, Jane O’Rourke, Ray Shepard, Jeani Welsh, Margit Griffith, and Jenny Rankin, with Deanna Laferriere and Sarah Andrysiak consulting.
We are in close consultation with Lincoln town officials, including Trisha McGean, Public Health Nurse, and Superintendent Becky McFall. You can read their respective letters to the Lincoln community here: http://www.lincolntown.org/1169/Coronavirus-Covid-19, and here: https://www.lincnet.org/covid19.
As we work together to keep our community strong, the Safe Congregations Task Force have made the following recommendations, which the Parish Committee voted to approve on Wednesday, March 11:
- We will not hold “in-person” worship on March 15, 22, and 29. Staff are working to offer a “live stream worship” option on these Sunday mornings. We will re-evaluate after 3 weeks.
- The Parish House and Sanctuary/Stearns Room will be closed until April 1 for the safety of our community and staff. Staff will work remotely from home.
- Other classes, workshops, committee meetings, and small group ministry will meet off-site or online at the discretion of their leaders.
We ask for your help in following these recommendations, as we all do our part in working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our vulnerable friends and members.
However, at First Parish we are concerned with both the physical and emotional safety of our congregation and community. This is an opportunity for us to get creative in thinking of how we can care for one another, connect with one another, and serve the wider world. Being mindful of this we offer the following information and guidance at this time:
- FPL Phone Tree: We are creating a phone tree for our First Parish community. If you would like to volunteer to make calls, please email the Care Committee at email@example.com.
- Deacons Check-In: As part of their mission to provide spiritual care for the community, the deacons are setting up a way they can be a “listening ear” for you during this time of uncertainty and anxiety. They are still working out the details, but they aim to create a phone line which you may call during certain hours to speak to a deacon. You may also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Social Media: We encourage everyone to stay connected by following the church Facebook page and Instagram account. These are both useful tools to share announcements and encouraging words.
Be watching for more updates on our website; you will find a link to our latest messages on the homepage. We encourage everyone to be in communication with other members of the community (friends, small groups), and with church leadership.
I (Jenny) need to tell you that I am so heartened and appreciative of the hard work of our staff this week, and the collaboration and partnership of the Deacons and Parish Committee as we worked together to get to this point.
I’m also so appreciative of the close bonds that exist within this community. I know these are not easy times, but if we reach out and stay connected to one another, I am confident we will join together to help buoy this community through these turbulent waters.
Rev. Jenny M. Rankin, Interim Minister
Safe Congregations Taskforce
Ray Shepard, Jeani Welsh, Jane O’Rourke, Andy Clark, Margit Griffith, Jenny Rankin