May 31, 2020 Pentecost
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Following the Governor’s announcement on Friday, May 29th that Allegheny County would soon enter the “Green Phase”, your Session met via Zoom on Tuesday, June 2nd. Below is Session’s plan for resuming in-person worship. Additional updates from the Session meeting follow the worship plan.
Session’s Plan for Resuming Corporate Worship
Session’s plan for resuming worship developed from an in-depth discussion of “Green Phase” requirements and the most recent scientific information on staying healthy during the global pandemic. Significant adaptions are required to gather for worship. We are making every effort to provide a safe environment given that the coronavirus remains a potent threat to members’ health and, to date, there is neither a vaccine nor a cure for the virus.
While we rejoice at the opportunity to worship together again, each member and every family must decide whether they will return to worship in this season of adaption or wait until a future time.
Two Weekly Worship Opportunities - Given cleaning/sanitizing challenges required before worship services, weekly in-person worship will be held Thursday and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. We will resume in-person weekly worship on Thursday, June 18 and on Sunday, June 21st.
Recorded Worship – We will continue to post a recording of worship on the OPC website by 11 a.m. Sunday mornings. We plan to live-stream worship once we have the capacity to do it which we hope will be later this summer or early in the fall.
Entering and Leaving the Sanctuary Via the Elevator or Sanctuary Tower Entrances – Given that there will be no cross traffic when entering and leaving the sanctuary, worshippers may enter and depart through either of those two doors.
Seating in Every Other Pew – State health guidelines for resuming in-person gatherings require that we continue to maintain physical distance of 6 feet except for people who live in the same household. To help in physical distancing, seating will be in every other pew.
'Reservations' for Worship – Given limited seating, we are asking that people make a 'reservation' for worship. A link to a “Save-a-Seat” program will simplify making a reservation. Others who prefer may simply call the church office to find if a seat is open for that worship. Once the maximum limit is reached the worship service will be listed as full. Details will follow in an upcoming mailing.
Ushers – Masked and gloved ushers will be present to assist worshippers with bulletins, masks and seating.
Hand sanitizer - Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available in the sanctuary vestibules.
Masks are Required - Given the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, masks will be required for participation in worship. People are asked to bring and wear their personal mask. Masks will be available for any who arrive without a mask. If you are unable to wear a mask, Session asks that you continue to worship through the recorded service on our website.
Cleaning/Sanitizing the Sanctuary, Entrances and Restrooms– Before each worship service the sanctuary, entrances and restrooms will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with an anti-viral spray.
Bulletins: A simple bulletin will be posted on our website for people to access via their cellphone or tablet. A paper bulletin will be available in the vestibules.
Singing: Because the virus is spread through air droplets, singing is prohibited. Instrumentalists with the exception of wind instruments may be use.
Offerings – the ministry and the mission of our church continues. Offerings may be made by
Mailing a check to the church, Arranging with your bank to have a check from your account mailed to the church, Dropping your offering in the church mailbox (by the lower Pennsylvania Ave. entrance), Using the “Gift of Giving” button on the OPC website
During worship offering plates will not be passed. Instead, baskets will be placed near the entrances for worshippers to place their offerings either upon entering or when exiting the sanctuary.
Communion: Given the impossibility of providing communion without extreme adaptions or with a high risk of infection, a monthly communion meditation will be substituted for communion at this time.
Preaching – The pulpit will be relocated on the chancel to provide greater physical distance from the congregation. While preaching the pastor offering the sermon will not wear a mask.
Hymnals, Bibles and Prayer Request Cards – following the CDC guidance for churches hymnals, bibles and prayer request cards will be removed from the pews.
No baptisms at this time – Given the inability to baptize in a physically distant way, baptisms will be postponed until a later time. We understand that there is no spiritual danger in delaying a baptism. Baptisms for a seriously ill child or an adult not previously baptized may still be performed.
Nursery – Given the inability for young children and for nursery workers to maintain social distance, and given the challenge of cleaning the toys before each worship service, there will be no nursery at this time. When needed/desired parents may take their children into Friendship Hall.
Other Updates from the Session Meeting
Weddings and Memorial Services – Given that the virus risks are the same for worship, weddings and memorial services, guidelines and limitations for worship services apply to weddings and memorial services.
Recovery Groups Invited to Return – The two Alcoholics Anonymous groups and the Narcotic Anonymous group meeting at OPC have been invited to return with the expectation that they observe physical distancing and other mitigation practices. For the simplicity of cleaning/sanitizing after their meetings they have been asked to limit their activities to the Dining Room and adjacent restrooms.
Otherwise, Only OPC Groups and Activities Permitted at this Time – Given both the necessity of cleaning/sanitizing following each group’s meeting and our custodian’s limited time, Session agreed that only OPC activities will be permitted at this time.
Pastors and Elders Expressed Concern Over Current Racial Issues – The pastors and elders expressed concern over the current racial issues and unrest following the death of George Floyd. Three elders and the Parish Associate will explore resources at Pittsburgh Seminary and at Pittsburgh Presbytery and present a recommendation for Session action at its next meeting.
A Financial Update – The chair of the Property/Finance/Stewardship Committee noted thankfully that many continue their contributions to the ministry and mission of our church. Overall, contributions are down by some 25%. Expenses have also declined. Given members’ continuing contributions it appears that we will weather the storm using cash reserves as required.
Of Interest NOW!