A letter from Pastor Kirk, Pastor Ben, and the Clerk of Session
We are writing to you to update you on the Session’s progress toward reopening our church site. The decision is in the hands of our 12 elected Elders. We compose this message on the day following the Session’s discussion and voting at their meeting on June 15.
The Elders have voted to begin our reopening. Their lengthy discussion focused on the need for safety, given the very real and continuing health risks, along with meeting the deep need among us to be together in person for worship in our church’s physical home.
With each Elder looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance, Session came to the decision to immediately form a Site Reopening Action Team to quickly explore all the best and safest ways for us to return to our site (that is: the sanctuary, classrooms, offices, and outdoor grounds) with the mandate that we will worship together in person at least once in July and at least twice in August–either inside or outside, giving the Action Team a chance to evaluate how things go and make any needed adjustments. Elder Steve Cable has agreed to chair the team, with input from worship and music, building and grounds, medical, and other key areas. They will begin meeting right away.
The threat of the virus does necessitate progressing with care. Nearly 70% of churches in the United States are continuing with virtual services only* (*The Wheaton Institute), including all the Presbyterian churches in our area which remain online only. We will be the first Presbyterian church to bring people back in Dane County–and, as far as we know, in our Presbytery (parts of 3 states). We are living up to our name.
The Site Reopening Action Team will have its work cut out for it as there are many, many factors to be considered to make our goal happen in the best balance of soon and safe. How many people can gather? How will they be chosen? How will people feel about services where they don’t sing (the CDC calls it a “high risk” activity). Would it make sense to meet outside for a time? Is the congregation liable if someone gets sick? What will be the mask protocol? How will any protocol be enforced? What should we do about Sunday School? What kind of cleaning and disinfecting will be necessary after site use? What will we suggest to our more at-risk members? These are just some of the questions the team will need to investigate and answer.
The on-site worship services which will happen, at least one in July and two in August, will give us experience and help us see what we will have right, as well as what will need to be fixed or improved.
We realize this has the potential to sound like the old cliché: The Presbyterians wanted to do something, so they immediately formed a committee. We assure you: this is more than that. We may have a prudent eye on the brake, but our intention is to move toward bringing people together again. In person worship is returning to FPC.
Yours, on behalf of the Session,
Pastor Kirk Pastor Ben Dianne Larson, Session Clerk