Letter From Our Session: Returning to In-Person Worship Guidelines

July 1, 2020

Dearest Church Family,

Friends, we have been through much in the last several months, yet God has continued to be faithful and present.  Jesus said to his disciples in the Gospel of John, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  It is in light of this new commandment given by Jesus that the Session of First Presbyterian Church of Broken Bow has prayed and sought to operate during these challenging times.  We are grateful for the understanding, cooperation, and support received from the congregation. 

At the Session meeting held on Thursday, June 25, 2020, the Session voted to reopen the building for in-person worship starting on Sunday, July 12, 2020 with the guidelines listed below.  This being said, the church will continue to stream the services both on the church’s website and on Facebook Live.  While there is now the option to worship in-person, each person is asked to consider carefully what is best for them and their family.  Whether you choose to return to worship in-person or remain online, you are loved and your decision respected.

Guidelines for returning to in-person worship:

  • Social distancing—We ask everyone to comply with keeping the recommended six feet of distance between households.  To facilitate this, please do the following.
    • Sit every other pew and alternate sitting toward the aisle or toward the windows
    • Please do not congregate in the Narthex or the church hallways.  Visiting at a safe distance should be done outside on the church ‘porch’ out front or in the parking lot in the back.
    • Please enter and fill the church from the front to the back and church will be dismissed from the back to the front.
    • The Pastor will not be shaking hands at the door following worship. 
    • We will not be doing our traditional passing of the peace or our closing circle.
    • Children will be asked to stay by their family.
  • Masks—Everyone is requested to wear a mask within the church.  Please bring your own, but if you do not have one, we will have extras here for you.
    • Wearing a mask will allow us to continue to do our responsive readings and unison prayers quietly while maintaining good safety measures.
    • Wearing a mask will also allow us to hum along to the hymns during the service.
  • What will be different—There will be a number of things that will look different before and during the service to eliminate touching common surfaces and the need for extra cleaning.
    • The outside doors will be propped open before and after the services.
    • The noisy offering can and an offering box will be placed at the entrance to the sanctuary.  Please place your offering either before or after the service.
    • There will be no bibles or hymnals in the pews.  Everything will be on the screen as it has the last several months.  The bulletins with announcements, prayer requests and financial updates will continue to be sent out weekly via email.
    • Women will be asked to use the restroom located in the nursery while the men are asked to use the restroom at the end of the hallway.
    • There will be several areas blocked off including the drinking fountain, the play area of the nursery, the blue Sunday school room, the elevator, and the downstairs.
    • The cushions will be off the pews where people will be seated. (The services will be shorter so you should be okay 😉)
    • We will remain seated for hymns and prayers.
    • Communion will be done by picking up your pre-packaged elements at the door on your way in to be used during the communion time.
    • There will be bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the church.  The pews and restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized each week before worship.

The Session will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make further and updated recommendations through the weeks ahead.  Our desire is to be faithful disciples and to keep Jesus’ commandment to love one another.  Working to keep our fellow worshippers safe is one of the ways the church is striving to do this.  We give thanks for the ways that God has provided for us and guided us through these past months.  We look forward with hope and expectation because God has been faithful in the past and we believe that God will be faithful still.

In Christ’s Service,

The Session