February 1, 2021
Dear Members of Westminster:
When we suspended in-person worship in December, it was out of concern for our neighbors — those who work in the hospital system, those who might need emergency care, and the essential workers who cannot choose to work from home. The Session felt it best to continue worshiping from home in order to do our part to address the crisis as numbers soared after the holidays.
We are glad today that our efforts at masking, distancing, and suspending large in-person gatherings — along with each of your individual efforts — have begun to pay dividends.
At a called Session meeting yesterday, the Session heard an update from the Covid-19 Task Force that provided the following information:
• Covid-19 hospitalizations in Greenville have declined during the past two weeks.
• The percent-positive rate has declined during the past two weeks.
• Overall Covid-19 numbers, while still high, have been on the decline the past two weeks.
In light of these changes, the Session approved a motion from the Covid-19 Task Force that we return to in-person worship on Sunday, February 14, with one worship service at 11:15am.
We will increase the maximum sign-up number to 100 per service. Sign-ups will open on Monday, February 8. Our Covid-19 protocol will continue to be in effect: everyone will be required to wear masks, and seating will be physically distanced by household.
The staff is also planning to bring a “season of outdoor services” to the congregation this spring, both as a creative outlet for marking missed milestones and as a way to engage folks who may not yet be comfortable returning to the sanctuary for worship. Please keep your eyes open for announcements about forthcoming outdoor services. Outdoor worship service capacity will also be 100 per service.
We will evaluate demand for all worship services throughout the spring, and make any necessary adjustments. For example, if there is demand for two services in the sanctuary, we will expand worship on Sunday mornings to both 9am and 11:15am.
For our members who cannot yet return to in-person worship, we will continue to offer pre-recorded worship through our website and our social media platforms.
Our goal is to be as hospitable and welcoming as possible to everyone who wants to participate in some kind of worship at WPC this spring. We are hopeful that we can joyfully build enthusiasm and momentum for gathering as a community of faith in safe ways.
I remain extraordinarily grateful for the excellent work that our Covid-19 Task Force has done throughout the pandemic, for the splendid leadership of our Session, and for the creativity, commitment, and dedication of my colleagues on our staff. In the midst of these challenging times, it is a blessing to serve such a wonderful congregation.
May God’s grace and peace be with all of you.