Dearest Members of First Reformed,
When the response to the global pandemic began the decision was made to suspend in-person services to protect the vulnerable. This is still a great concern but the spiritual well-being of our congregation has become a serious concern due to their absence from gathering with the body of believers as we are commanded to do in Hebrews 10:25. We have heard from many people whose consciences are convicted about neglecting the public gathering for worship. In this very unique situation, the elders and deacons of our congregation do not wish to bind the conscience of anyone regarding convictions on staying home or coming to worship.
On Thursday, the Consistory made the decision that starting this Sunday (May 24), the doors to the church building will be unlocked but we will not formally be calling people to public worship. With the Friday announcement of the President that churches are declared essential, we will be formally opening for worship, but we do so with significant caution. Going forward all services will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook, even beyond this present set of circumstances. We have put in place a safety protocol that will inform how our congregation will operate for the foreseeable future. This is available for you to read at the end of this communication.
We ask that if you are vulnerable or think you may be sick, that you would continue to watch the service online. Also, if you are uncomfortable with attending at all, please stay home. Prayerfully consider your personal vulnerability and use personal discretion and wisdom in deciding whether to come to the church building for the service.
Most importantly, we pray that this will not divide us. May we show patience and grace towards those who may have an opinion that differs from the one that we hold. By his grace, may God cause our love for one another to grow through the hardship we have endured that this body of believers might bring honor and praise to the name of Christ as we humbly proclaim the gospel and worship his holy name.
Please help spread the word as we know this email will not reach everyone. Copies of this letter are available at the church on the welcome desk.
The Consistory and Pastor Mark
Return to Worship Information
1. The service will continue to be streamed live every week on YouTube and Facebook for those who do not feel safe returning to public worship and for our shut-in members. The service will also continue to be on the radio at 10:30.
2. Hand sanitizer will be readily available in multiple locations.
3. Everyone is encouraged to wear their own personal protective equipment.
4. The doors will be propped open to allow for “no contact” entry into the building.
5. Please do not gather and congregate by the doors. Please move to your seat or out of the building.
6. Every other pew will be roped off to help maintain physical distancing.
7. After the benediction please remain in your seat and wait to be ushered out. We will dismiss slowly and ask that when you are dismissed that you would promptly move to the exits. If you wish to talk with someone, please do so outside while maintaining adequate physical distancing.
8. Please refrain from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs.
9. The collection will be taken in offering plates that will be placed in the narthex and the hallway behind the balcony.
10. For the time being, children’s messages will continue to be online and be available at 10:45 on YouTube and our Facebook Page.
11. The nursery will remain closed, but we will have a TV streaming the service in the fellowship hall and the youth room for those who may need to take their children out during the service.
12. There will be no coffee or fellowship time before or following the service.
13. Physical distancing will allow for roughly 150 people in the sanctuary. We will have overflow areas with the livestream available in the fellowship hall and the youth room in the event that we exceed this capacity.