A Letter issued to the congregation from Pastor John Willingham on July 28:
Last night, the Session received a thorough report from our Re-Opening Task Force. That team of members and staff has been working for weeks to develop a plan for what life at DPC will look as we return, keeping in the mind the latest governmental and health guidelines. Certainly, we all have experienced the rapidly evolving dynamic of COVID-19 cases still rising around the country, local school districts announcing their plans for the fall, and restrictions easing or resuming elsewhere. In response to those factors and with the priority of ensuring the health and safety of all when we do return, the task force proposed and Session approved a plan.
Here are some of the key pieces and the rationale behind them:
- In-person worship will return on the second Sunday after state guidelines permit at least 100 persons for inside gatherings
While it is true the governor’s plan allows exemptions from some guidelines for religious bodies, our approach throughout the pandemic has been to err on the side of the most restrictive standards, thus doing all that we can to ensure the health and well-being of all who gather here. Being inside for an extended time poses the greatest risk for coronavirus spread and thus we will remain in live-stream mode until state guidelines allow for larger inside gatherings.
- In response to feedback from DPC families with young children and teens, in-person Church School for those ages will not immediately return in the fall nor will the Nursery or Children’s Worship Time be offered initially
Our education committees are focusing on providing materials that parents can use at home with some virtual gatherings for older youth and adults. We are also exploring ways to gather outside, including the occasional worship service.
- Masks will be required for all in-person gatherings at the church
While the wearing of masks has been framed by some as a political statement or infringement on personal freedom, all the scientific evidence suggests their use and social distancing are the best way to prevent spread of the virus. Thus, once in-person worship returns, masks or other facial coverings will be required as a way of being respectful of all, including potentially at-risk individuals present.
I firmly support the decision of our Session and wise guidance of the Task Force. Should you have any questions, however, please contact me as we navigate the best way to remain a vibrant and loving body of faith even while apart.