July 26, 2020
Even though Erie County posted the GREEN phase on Friday, June 26, worship at First Covenant remains virtual until further notice. In-person worship and other gatherings in the church building even with social distancing protocols and recommendations will not happen until late November. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues we won’t be returning to what we considered ‘normal’ in February. The Erie County Health Department and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance have shared recommendations and advice with the staff. Of special concern is congregational singing as breath droplets spread much farther than 6 feet, even with a face covering.
The church’s phased “transition” plan is gradually being implemented. In addition to being masked in the building, the staff and visitors must answer health questions and temperature readings are taken when entering the church every day. Our movement has been slow and gradual. Which is frustrating when we long to gather and when other churches around us have resumed in-person worship. Gathering of any kind, including worship, will not occur at First Covenant until at least late November. We are carefully watching what is occurring in the states that “went green” a month or two ago, and in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) to our south. With churches that returned to in-person gathering across the country experiencing COVID outbreaks, and the U.S. continuing to set new daily record cases for COVID, we pause to consider the wisdom of gathering indoors. This is how we LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR: we move cautiously and deliberately with the health of the congregation, staff, and community as the priority.
ONLINE ONLY worship continues Sundays at 10:00 a.m. on Facebook Live. The 10:00 a.m. worship time remains in place through the Labor Day weekend.
As has been previously stated, Pennsylvania’s or Erie County’s COVID-19 phases won’t dictate the church’s phases. The session and staff of First Covenant are moving forward cautiously and deliberately with the health of the congregation, staff, and community as the priority. Online worship, Zoom faith formation, and Zoom committee meetings and creative social-distanced events will continue for the foreseeable future. Even when the church reopens to in-person worship, the “new” normal for worship will look a lot different. The online, live-stream worship and Bible studies will continue even when in-person worship resumes.