The officers of WPC met again this week as part of our weekly review about the status of COVID-19 in our county. In our meeting we discussed the good news that the church family members who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 via an infected relative were all tested and their results came back negative. We continue to discuss ways to improve our safety protocols especially when considering the COVID-19 trends and data provided by state and county health authorities. We have been given access to Okaloosa County’s daily reporting and weekly analysis and we are using this information in making decisions about any in-person activities associated with WPC. You may already be aware that Okaloosa County health officials have concluded our county has reached a “critical” condition in a couple of key areas which include the rate the virus is spreading and the availability of ICU beds. After considering all available data and the recommendations of county officials, we have decided to temporarily change some aspects of our worship services in an attempt to further limit the congregation’s potential for exposure to the COVID-19 virus. The changes will start this Sunday (July 5th) and are summarized as follows:
- Seating Requests: Members and visitors will be asked to choose between attending the morning or evening worship service when making a seating request but will not be able to attend both. We encourage you to join the livestream of the service that you do not attend in person. If you come to the morning service please join us online at 5:30pm for the evening service. If you attend the evening service please be sure to join us online at 10:15am for the morning service.
- Morning Worship: Facemasks will be required of all attendees at all times when in the sanctuary for the morning worship service. The church ushers will have facemasks available at the church entrance for those who need them. Note: Those who are part of the music team and those who have a role in leading worship will not wear facemasks when performing their role but they will wear a facemask when not performing their role.
- Evening Worship: There will be no change in facemask guidance for the evening service; facemasks will continue to be encouraged but not required.
- Dismissal: We will take a little more time in dismissing the congregation after each service so that the porch can be cleared for those who need to depart and not encounter close contact with others while proceeding to their vehicles. When you exit the sanctuary, we ask that you not stop and congregate on the porch. Please either proceed to your vehicle or use the church lawn as your initial area of gathering for fellowship. The long porch near the office and choir room is available for those who immediately require shade or covering from rain and wish to fellowship with others while social distancing.
- Fellowship: Facemasks should be worn if the 6 foot social distancing guidance cannot be maintained between individuals who are not of the same family or who were not seated together as one party. Close contact without facemasks is appropriate between members of the same family or between those who have been seated together as one party.
- Renewed Carefulness in Fellowship: Should you choose to fellowship after worship services with others who are not part of your family or who were not part of your seating party, we ask for you to be very careful in practicing social distancing. We understand and appreciate how many of you want to experience the fellowship of believers after each service and we want to continue to offer this fellowship opportunity, but we believe our social distancing behaviors can be improved significantly. We certainly understand the inconvenience and impersonal nature of social distancing. The weariness of having to temporarily adapt our behaviors to an abnormal environment for the sake of others’ safety is a burden for many but we are asking everyone to bear some inconvenience. We also know that innocent mistakes will be made occasionally especially by small children and we ask for your charity, patience and grace so that we overlook these occasions and strive to maintain a genuine spirit of unity and peace. In summary, please consider renewing your commitment to honoring and protecting one another when fellowshipping by a careful practice of social distancing and the wearing of facemasks if social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Sacraments: We will resume offering the sacraments but with carefulness to their frequency and administration. Baptisms will be personally coordinated by our pastor with each candidate family to determine their desires and needs regarding how to safely accommodate close contact with the infant being baptized. The Lord’s Supper will be offered but on a less frequent basis and with safety protocols to protect the elements from potential sources of contamination. Because it has been since early March when we last offered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, we will plan to have the Lord’s Supper in both the morning and evening services on Sunday, July 12th.
More in FROM THE HALLS OF WESTMINSTER
July 3, 2020Re-Starting (Again!)
June 26, 2020Temporary Suspension of In-Person Worship Services
May 18, 2020Reconvening for Worship