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“Returning to the Sanctuary”

June 16, 2020

To: The Members and Friends of the Presbyterian Church of Washington

From: Rev. Patrick Gruber

Re: Returning to In-Person Worship Services

Dear Friends!

Greetings to you all in the name of Jesus Christ!  I have missed seeing you all in person!  I am greatly looking forward to gathering again in person for Sunday morning worship.

If you have not already heard, PCW is targeting July 19th for our first “in-person” worship service.  This date may be delayed if the number of COVID-19 cases rise significantly in Franklin County.  Until July 5th, if you have not already done so, please visit every Sunday morning at 10:15 to join us for online worship.  All our services are also available on our Facebook and YouTube pages.  These online services will continue going forward in perpetuity.  We have found there has been a great response to our online presence.  And, if you are sick or in an at-risk group or away from home, you will still be able to worship with us online.

We also want everyone to be safe when considering if you are ready to return to in person worship services.  If you feel ill, or have been exposed to someone who is not feeling well, we encourage you to stay safe, stay home, keep others safe and participate in worship online.  If you fall into one of the CDC’s at risk categories (if you are over 65, diabetic, lung or heart conditions, immunocompromised, etc), we ask that you prayerfully consider worshipping safely at home as well.

This letter is also to inform everyone that PCW will be operating under certain guidelines (approved by session) for in-person worship services.  Many of these guidelines are being practiced by other local congregations.  Please note that these guidelines will not be permanent.  As we worship together physically again over time, and assuming we experience no health related setbacks, certain guidelines will be removed until we all feel safe and comfortable worshipping as normal again. 

Here are some of the most important guidelines that will directly affect everyone attending services:

  • We will be expecting everyone to wear a mask when attending worship.  If anyone forgets their mask, we will have extra available at the door.
  • Social distancing rules of 6’ apart will be practiced.  Seating in the sanctuary will be rearranged to facilitate physical distancing.  Families will be allowed to sit together.
  • Initial worship services will be “contact free.” We will be taking steps to reduce the amount of physical contact between us.  This will include reducing the amount of surfaces that are touched by multiple people (hymnals, bulletins, etc) and eliminating before and after worship gathering areas (coffee, fellowship table, Scrip table, etc).
  • We also regret to inform the young parents of our congregation that we will not have the nursery available during July.  We hope to offer it again in August.

There are other guidelines that will affect our worship experience, but these are the major ones that we wanted to make sure you knew before returning to the sanctuary. 

Please know that all of our guidelines were established by a joint “re-opening task force” made up of health professionals and members of our Worship and Property Committees.  Those guidelines were unanimously adopted by the session on June 1st.  I want to assure everyone that much thought, consideration and prayer went into these decisions.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me in the church office.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Pat