A Letter to the Congregation – In Person Worship

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you to so many of you who were able to complete our church reopening survey. Based on your feedback and continued decreasing case counts of COVID-19 in our community, the session has authorized a limited return to in-person worship beginning this Sunday, March 14.

Our Sunday morning experience will be different for some time. Although we are working towards “normal,” in order to allow people to worship safely on Sunday morning and beyond, the following practices and procedures will be necessary at this point:

  • Masks will be mandatory for all who are in the church building;
  • You may access the church through the front doors of the sanctuary only on Sunday morning. Those needing to access the church via handicapped- accessible entrances may use the staff parking lots and ramps to either the nursery entrance or the front of the Martin House;
  • Upon entering the church building, an usher will direct you and your family to an assigned seat; the church building will open for worship at 10:10 Sunday morning;
  • There will be no nursery care available initially; it will be phased in after a trial period;
  • Access to the building will be limited to the sanctuary and the commons restrooms. We ask that you remain on the first floor only, and restrict socializing to outdoor spaces;
  • We ask that you maintain social distancing at all times (remain six feet apart) with people outside your own household;
  • There will be no congregational singing until a later reentry phase;
  • In-person Sunday school and choir will be suspended until a later reentry phase.

If you would like to attend worship, please call or write the church office (office@firstpresdalton.org or 706.278.8161) by Thursday at 12:00 noon each week and leave your name and the names of the family members who will be attending with you. On Friday morning, worship participants will be selected through a random drawing, assigned seating pods in the sanctuary, and then contacted. Those whose names were not drawn will be contacted too, and given priority for worship attendance on subsequent Sundays. Know that we are making every effort to balance safety and fairness as we return to in-person worship.

Between 25-40 names will be drawn for attendance depending on the size of family units who are seated in the sanctuary. As this is the beginning of reentry, we hope to steadily grow the number of people who can worship in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. Continued progress in this area will depend on continued positive trends in our community and the effectiveness of the safety protocols we have enacted.

The session understands, too, that not everyone will be comfortable returning to worship at this time. We will continue to offer our live stream service via Facebook live uninterrupted, and do our best to accommodate the particular needs of those who wish to remain connected to the church in other ways. For instance, in order to include the entire church for worship, we will offer our Easter Sunday service on Sunday, April 4, on the front lawn of the church. We hope that opportunities like these will become more and more regular as we return to in-person worship together.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at the church, or through email (wscott@firstpresdalton.org). If you would like more information on church safety protocols and benchmarks for reentry, you may check our newsletter this week, our Facebook page, or our website: www.firstpresdalton.org.

I look forward to seeing many of you Sunday. Click HERE for reopening guidelines.

“Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves (Psalm 126:6).”

Let us worship God!