First Parish in Lincoln
Reopening Plans

The Reopening Task Force, in collaboration with ministers and staff, and 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. We will be asking for your flexibility and patience as we work together, as a community, to gather in the best and safest ways we can. We know this isn’t easy, but we can do it, if we do it together.

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.

Worship Schedule

September 19th, 10am – Ingathering Service
Zoom Only

Join us, one more time, for a fully Zoom worship service. We will mark the time we have spent worshipping from our homes with part one of a Water Communion ritual. Bring a bowl of water from your home to the Zoom service – more details to follow.

Worship Team: Jenny, Margit, Ian, and Sarah K.
Pastoral Message: Sarah Klockowski

September 26th, 10am – Rally Sunday
Outdoors next to the Sanctuary, and streamed on Zoom

We invite you to a special outdoor, all ages Rally Sunday next to the sanctuary, as we continue our phased reopening. Jenny will preach; Sarah will pray; Margit will tell a story; Ian, Jessica, and members of our beloved FPL choir will delight us with music, and we’ll all contribute our hearts and spirits as we show up to celebrate our community that endures, even in the midst of pandemic conditions! We’ll be sitting in chairs set up outside the sanctuary where the rainbow chairs usually sit. Pre-register online. Link to follow in future news briefs.

October 3rd-24th, 10am – Return to the Sanctuary
Outdoor/Indoors, and streamed on Zoom

October 3rd will be a very special Sunday for our community as we return to our beloved sanctuary after more than 18 months of absence. The deacons are so excited to welcome you and are working with the ministers on creating a very special service, with music, ritual, flowers and much more. We invite you to come in person or to join us online. We will join our spirits together as we give thanks for this milestone in our journey forward and reconnect our souls to this place, which has nourished us over the generations. From October 3rd-24th our services will begin outside for the first 15-20 minutes of worship; then kids will go up the hill with Margit for outdoor RE, and others will enter the sanctuary. Pre-registration required, link to follow in future news briefs.

October 31st, 10am – Outdoor Worship
Outdoors next to the Sanctuary, streamed on Zoom

Once again, we will gather as a community of all ages for a fully outdoor service next to the sanctuary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will the outdoor/indoor service be like?
We’ll start outside every Sunday, sitting on chairs in the area right next to the Sanctuary where the rainbow chairs are normally located. We’re doing this in order to safely welcome and include our families and children (who cannot yet be vaccinated). We’ll have some opening words, say the covenant together, listen to a hymn being sung and have a Time for All Ages. Then, children and others who wish to participate in RE activities up the hill will move in that direction. Families with young (unvaccinated) children who do not wish to participate in RE may move into the Stearns Room, to view the worship service from there. Those who have pre-registered ahead of time, will go in to the sanctuary for the rest of our service. It will be wonderful to gather together as a community and we hope you will participate and lend your spirit and presence!

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.

What do kids’ programs look like?
Families will sign up to take turns participating in the beginning/outdoor-part of the worship service. Children can set the altar table (choose a cloth and bring things of meaning if you like), ring the gathering bell (up in the choir loft), and lead the Covenant during worship (SIGN UP HERE!). Following the Time for All Ages, children may accompany their parents into the Stearns Room to continue participating in the worship service OR come up to the Parish House to participate in Religious Exploration classes and activities (parents/guardians also welcome), which will be outside. Two adult volunteers will join the paid teenage staff in leading activities (parents, and other adults, SIGN UP HERE!).

Please register for Religious Exploration! This does not commit you to anything… it makes us aware that you are interested in our program and want to be kept in the loop! And we’ll hope to see you as often as possible!

We also have activities and events beyond Sunday.

Is there a nursery for my baby/toddler/under 5 year-old?
Yes! Jan Carlson is our professional lead teacher. She is prepared to help care for your child with all Covid protocols in place for health and safety. You will be asked to attest that no one in your family has symptoms or recent exposure. The nursery is up the hill in the Parish House at 14 Bedford Road. You may stop by there to leave your child in care at 9:45 and return after the service. Most of the time will be spent outside on the tot-lot play area.

What will we do in case of bad weather?
We are hardy New Englanders, right? So rain or shine, we’ll gather outside beginning September 26th (when the whole service will be outdoors) and continuing through the month of October. Bring your umbrella if there is a light rain.

In case of terrible weather on September 26th and October 31st, we will revert to Zoom. We will post the cancellation on the FPL website by 7pm Saturday evening if we are to cancel.

I’m not ready or able to join you for in person worship yet. How can I worship with you?
Weekly services will be broadcast for those who choose to worship from home. This will be over Zoom initially, however, we are in the midst of installing new equipment that will vastly improve your worship from home experience. We are hopeful that by early November we will have a more sophisticated system in place that will allow for high quality live streaming, and we will update you on how to tune in once the new system is installed. Until then the Zoom link will continue to be published in the weekly News Briefs as well as on the homepage of our website.

What happens in November?
We aren’t quite sure yet what the plan is for November. It may get too cold to continue the “outside start” for worship, and until our kids are vaccinated, we are not sure it’s wise or safe for them to be inside with a pool of adults, albeit vaccinated. So ministers, staff, and deacons will be working hard on plans for “what’s next,” ably assisted by our Reopening Task Force. We will be monitoring the Delta variant data carefully and will be meeting regularly through the fall. We ask for your patience and flexibility as we continue to try to make prudent decisions for the greater good.

Other Programs

Small groups and committees are invited 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.

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