CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – May 25, 2020
REOPENING WORSHIP, ROUND 2
Florida is now in what it describes as full Phase One as to reopening from the coronavirus lockdown. Under the lockdown, churches were defined as essential businesses, but expected to follow CDC social distancing guidelines, including gatherings of ten people or less.
Under Phase One, churches are not specifically addressed (as far as I can tell), but this is what Florida’s Plan says about social gatherings:
All individuals should continue to maximize physical distance from others in public,
particularly in enclosed environments. Individuals should avoid socializing in groups of
more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social
distancing of at least 6 feet.
This is in addition to advice that people in vulnerable populations (underlying conditions) continue to stay at home as much as possible (Page 22, Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. PLAN FOR FLORIDA’S RECOVERY).
The above language about “circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet” appears to offer some options for businesses like churches to have more than 10 people present for a gathering. However, as earlier updates have pointed out, sessions need to assess the risk for the congregation’s membership along with the ability to provide an environment that people believe is safe.
We have heard some reports of sessions considering some form of “soft” reopening of in-person worship and other ministries in early- to mid-June. This will likely become more pronounced when Florida moves to Phase Two of reopening, which says the following about social gatherings:
Individuals and businesses should adhere to all public guidance by federal, state and local
officials, including state regulatory agencies.
When your session makes a decision that changes your current worship strategy, please remember to tell the Presbytery Office by emailing Cheryl Carson, so we can update our listing of services.
JUNE 4 PRESBYTERY MEETING
Council decided last week that the Presbytery meeting on June 4 will be a virtual meeting instead of an in-person meeting at First Presbyterian Church, Sebastian. We are grateful for Sebastian’s willingness to host the meeting and regret that we will not be able to travel to Indian River County for this meeting.
The meeting will use the Zoom teleconferencing platform, which you can join either by computer or telephone. The packet of reports for the meeting was sent out last Friday, including information about joining the meeting. Please be advised of the following:
There is additional information, including special rules covering an electronic meeting, in the packet. Please review this information completely before the meeting begins.
VACATION TIME / TIME OFF
Over the past two weeks, I have been asking pastors whether then feel they have been getting enough rest as they have dealt with the changes in routine brought on by the coronavirus. Not surprisingly, I have heard negative answers to this question more times than not. I want to encourage pastors to be diligent in carving out down time during this stressful period. Plan for and take some of your vacation time, as you ordinarily would as the summer months approach, even if it is for a “staycation.” Session members should make a point of making sure their pastor is taking this time, and should do their part to help carry the load of ministry. As was mentioned on the weekly check-in phone call, members of the Presbytery staff will be happy to substitute for a Sunday by providing an appropriate recorded sermon, or participating in a live-stream. Please call us to arrange for this as needed.
Also, please note that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has resources on resilience training and emotional and spiritual care during disasters/pandemics on their website.
Executive Presbyter / Stated Clerk