October 2020 In-person Worship Guidelines

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20 KJV)

 

All of us at the First Church of Monson have missed being together for worship in one space.  Except for monthly drive-in communion services, contact with one another has been virtual or non-existent.  It is now time to open the church carefully for Sunday worship services once again. The first in-person worship service will be Sunday, October 25, at 10:00 a.m.

 

The Church Council and the Board of Deacons comprise First Church’s COVID Response Team.  When Church Council met in July, we agreed to follow the lead of the Monson Public Schools with respect to opening.  The schools will open partially on October 19.  Their opening was delayed when Monson became a COVID red zone due to an increase in coronavirus cases.  Now Monson is a white zone again.

 

We are fully aware that we do not have all of the answers to opening the church while at the same time protecting the health and safety of our members and guests.  We also know that many people will find our proposals too restrictive while others will think we are too lenient.  We are humbly trying to do our best.  Please be understanding and pray that it works out for all!

We have based our procedures on the Safety Standards and Checklist: Places of Worship on mass.gov, tailoring them to our specific needs and level of comfort.  In addition, we have consulted with over a dozen UCC churches in our area to see what they are doing.  Please read what we are proposing.  We want you all back at church as soon as safely possible!

 

SEATING in the SANCTUARY: 

  1. Up to 50 people; 10 per 1,000 square feet.  

  2. Socially distanced at least six feet from those in other households

  3. Seated in designated alternate rows 

 

ACTIVITIES on HOLD for NOW:

  1. Handshaking or passing of the peace

  2. Microphone prayer requests from the congregation

  3. Singing by the congregation

  4. Use of First Church bibles or hymnals

  5. Eating or fellowship before or after the service

 

PRIOR to WORSHIP:

  1. When possible, register in advance to ensure that we do not exceed the number permitted in the sanctuary and to contact trace should that become necessary.

  2. Moderator Liz O’Connor will keep the list of those planning to attend worship each week.

  3. By 8 p.m. on FRIDAY, please do one of the following:

  1. Email Liz at eoconnor326@yahoo.com with the number in your household who plan to attend worship that coming Sunday, and leave your phone number.

  2. Text Liz at 413-262-5471 with the number in your household who plan to attend worship that coming Sunday.

  3. Call Liz at 413-262-5471 only if you cannot email or text. 

 

DAY of WORSHIP:

  1. Bring a paper mask or a clean cloth mask to wear at all times in the building. Paper masks will be available for those who forget.

  2. Arrive at the NARTHEX door between 9:40 a.m. and 9:55 a.m.

  3. Check off your name on the registration list with Clerk Suzanne Kelley.

  4. Have your temperature taken with a non-contact thermometer by Chair of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee Judie Newberry to see that it is below100º F.

  5. Sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer upon entering the church.

  6. Let your usher show you to your seat.

  7. Give your usher a written prayer request if you have one. 

  8. Use the narthex bathrooms during the service if necessary.

  9. Put your offering in the collection plate in the narthex as you enter or at the front of the sanctuary as you exit.

  10. Exit through the front of the sanctuary out the ramp door as the ushers dismiss you.

 

After we try the above procedures for a few weeks, we will review how well they are working and make appropriate changes.  Please feel free to let Chair of Deacons Bill Palmer or anyone on Church Council or the Board of Deacons know if you have a recommendation for improvement.  We appreciate your input. We are in uncharted waters.

 

If you are not ready to return to church in person, virtual services will still be available.

 

ONLINE WORSHIP:

  1. Watch the livestreamed service on Facebook every Sunday at 10:00 a.m.  However, please note that Pastor Peter will not be able to host a post-service coffee hour as he did when the services were pre-recorded.

  2. Watch a current service or any past services on the Church’s website firstchurchmonson.org.

  3. Watch the Sunday service on a one-week delay on television every Sunday on MPACT, Channel 15, at 9:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m.


 

First Church of Monson, Congregational

United Church of Christ

5 High Street

Monson, Mass., 01057

413-267-3312

Office@FirstChurchMonson.org