The Reopening Task Force, with the concordance of the Deacons and the Parish Committee, is pleased to offer recommendations for our coming together as a congregation this fall. We’ve listened to parishioners, looked at public health recommendations, and reviewed UUA and UCC guidelines. We’ve tried to balance the importance of in-person activities for so many, with the need to take care for the health and welfare of the community, especially the most vulnerable among us. The result is, of necessity, somewhat messy and complex.
Please note that these recommendations are provisional- as the state of the pandemic changes, or as public health guidelines change, we may need to modify our approach.
We would like to offer in-person worship in the sanctuary for vaccinated individuals starting Sunday, October 3. We’ll start the service outdoors, next to the sanctuary, in order to welcome children and their families. Following the Time for All Ages children will head up the hill for outdoor Religious Education, while everyone else comes inside.
The service in the sanctuary will be different than what we are used to. We will be socially distanced, with families or pod-groups sitting together, and we’ll all be wearing masks. Neither the choir nor the congregation will sing, although we will have Ian Watson on the organ, and perhaps a vocal soloist. And, we’ll ask people to sign up for the service ahead of time, attest to being symptom free, and affirm that they are fully vaccinated. That said, this will be in most other respects the sort of worship service that we are used to.
Following the service, people are free to chat together outdoors, but we won’t be providing food or drinks. We ask that people remain masked even then.
Weekly services will be broadcast for those who choose to worship from home. This will be over Zoom initially, and we are hopeful that by early November we will have a more sophisticated system in place that will allow for high quality live streaming.
Please note that with part of the service outside each week, and with the windows opened wide in the sanctuary, this will be a great time to pull out your long underwear, and put on your ‘Hearty New Englander’ frame of mind.
The schedule for the fall will start with a Zoom service on September 19, a fully outdoor service next to the church on September 26, and another fully outdoor service on October 31. In case of terrible weather on those mornings we’ll revert to Zoom, and we’ll post the cancellation on the FPL website by 7 pm Saturday evening if we are to cancel.
Finally, we welcome small groups to use the Parish House and Stearns Room for church related meetings and activities. We ask that you register ahead of time with Silvia Dieckow, and that participants remain masked and socially distanced throughout.
The Reopening Task Force, the church staff, and the associated church leadership groups will continue to stay abreast of the situation as we move forward, and continue to envision ways of coming together safely in the months ahead. We welcome feedback at all times. Please reach out to a deacon with any questions or feedback.