8/5: COVID-19 Update
DEAR PAOLI CHURCH FAMILY,
It is a strange time. On the one hand, some of life feels like it’s going back to “normal.” With our region in "green," more and more activities are resuming. People are eating at restaurants. Stores are open. Trips to the mountains and the shore that we thought we’d have to cancel are getting to happen after all. But on the other hand, we also know that life is very much not “back to normal” at all. Daily reports of increasing Corona Virus infections keep us aware and somewhat anxious that we’re not out of the woods yet. Not by a long-shot.
We want you to know that we, the Session and staff, have been working very hard to develop detailed plans for all of us to follow, when the time is right, to bring everyone back to our building, while keeping everyone safe in the process. We share the desire to be together again, but we also understand how serious this virus can be. Any plan to gather must first be attentive to the safety of our congregation, many of whom may be at higher risk.
We have reviewed the guidelines available from the CDC, Donegal Presbytery, and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as real-life experiences of other churches, school systems, and hospitals, which have also begun such planning. There are still more questions than answers surrounding COVID-19, and a myriad of issues must be examined and addressed to have a workable and safe plan to return. These issues include:
physical space and capacity limitations due to distancing requirements
building access limitations and restrictions
facility preparedness and cleaning accommodations
safety and security measures for members and staff at increased risk of infection
infrastructure required to invite people into the building safely (pre-registration, tracking attendees, seating instructions, bathroom use)
the reality that worship will have to look very different when we do return: everyone wearing masks and maintaining social distance, no fellowship time, no choir, no congregational singing being just a few examples.
This work has led the Session to decide that we will continue to wait to regather for in-person Sunday worship for a little while longer. Our utmost concern is to provide an environment where our congregation can be safe and feel comfortable in worship together.
The Session and staff will continue reviewing all available information as we develop plans to bring us back together. We will keep you informed of our progress. We welcome any comments, and we covet your prayers for our work.
In the interim, let us all continue to “be the church” and bring Jesus’ message of love, hope, and joy to all. Let us continue to seek ways to help people in need and support those whose life circumstances make this pandemic especially difficult. (We’re VERY excited to be rolling out some new mission opportunities for all of us to participate in next week. Be on the lookout!)
Let us continue to worship, pray, study, ZOOM, email, call, and do all the things we can, right now, to be the salt and light of the world. And when we can all do so safely, we will gather in-person again to celebrate and worship together.
May God continue to bless Paoli’s ministry during this challenging season.
Jonathan and Becca, Co-Pastors