COVID-19 Plan & Precautions

Any updates and revisions to plans and precautions set by the pastoral staff and the Session will be posted on this page.

Updated 05/11/20

The pastoral staff and leadership at First Presbyterian Church are monitoring the global Coronavirus pandemic and are committed to keeping you informed with the latest guidance and resources.

5/11/20 LETTER TO THE CONGREGATION (Mailer)

Dear Friends:

Much has changed since my last letter to our congregation concerning the impact of the COVID-19 on our fellowship.  We’ve experienced the disruption of our lives caused by social distancing and the closure of schools, businesses, and of course our gathering for public worship.  Now, as the state of North Carolina enters a period of phased reopening, I am hearing a number of questions about when the church facility may be open again for regular use.  At the moment, under the governor’s phase 1 guidelines, the following rules apply to churches:

  1. Mass gatherings for public worship, indoors, is limited to no more than 10 persons. Social distancing must be maintained.
  2. Services may be held that exceed 10 persons if those services are held outdoors in an unenclosed place and attendees follow recommendations to promote social distancing.
  3. Funerals are permitted to have up to fifty persons in attendance, but social distancing recommendations should be observed as much as possible.
  4. Weddings are permitted but mass gathering guidelines of 10 or less persons who are socially distanced still apply.

As you can see, very little changes for us under phase 1, projected to last to at least the beginning of June.  We will continue to provide online worship experiences, as well as Zoom based fellowship, music, and Christian education opportunities. The church office remains open for limited support during normal business hours.  Pastoral care is always available.

What does change is the need to anticipate new opportunities as mass gathering guidelines are relaxed this summer.  This month the Session will begin to develop our own phased reopening plan, taking into consideration not only what is legal, but what is wise.  There are many questions that will need to be considered.  To highlight only a few:

  1. At what mass gathering size does it make sense to resume public worship and other church activities? Shall we have multiple gatherings on a Sunday or throughout the week? Or can we gather in multiple spaces at the same time in order to maintain social distancing?
  2. How will we clean and sanitize high traffic, high touch surfaces? Currently passing offering plates, eating together, holding hymnals and receiving public communion are all discouraged by most denominations.
  3. How shall we adequately sanitize the spaces used by our children, who cannot socially distance? Will parents be comfortable bringing their children into common spaces? Will we gather for worship but not other face-to-face activities?
  4. What minimum guidelines need to be in place so adults will feel comfortable worshipping together? Will masks be worn in worship?  Will seating in the sanctuary or chapel be marked to maintain appropriate space? How will we sing together, given the greater potential for virus spread through singing

These questions have answers, and the answers will likely change as the situation changes.  As the reopening plan for our facility and common life is developed by our leadership we will be quick to communicate it to the congregation.

There is both reason to be hopeful and much to be determined. Please pray for your leaders during this time of discernment and decision making.  We also should be reminded that the church is not closed, only parts of the building.  As long as the Word is proclaimed, sacraments observed, prayer offered, mission done and our shared fellowship through Jesus Christ maintained, the church is very much in business.  We are the church.

Let’s continue to be a source of strength and encouragement to one another as we move into a new and different season of life at First Presbyterian Church.

Sincerely,
Dr. Mike Garrett, Pastor

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3/31/20

Be on the lookout for weekly emails with program updates, messages from the pastoral staff, and bulletins and children’s activities that will help you engage and follow along with each Sunday livestream service.

Children’s Ministry continues to stay connected via weekly ZOOM sessions every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Please contact either Britany Spivey (britany@firstprez.com) or Sarah Szopinski (sarah@firstprez.com) to join.

Music Ministry invites all participants to its ZOOM Share & Prayer Meetings on Sundays during the group’s regular rehearsal time. Please contact Dr. Marcia Mervin (marcia@firstprez.com) for more information on how to join.

The Wired Word Sunday School will “gather” at 10 a.m. on Sundays via ZOOM. Please contact Lou Brooks (lobpt01@verizon.net) for more information. 

Click here for the first installment of “Moments with Mike”-  another way to connect with Dr. Garrett, the life of the church in this new time of social distancing, and hear a word of encouragement in this uncertain time.

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3/19/20 DOWNLOAD THE MARCH 22 ORDER OF WORSHIP AND CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES HERE

We hope you’ll join us for this Sunday’s streaming worship service and modified Children’s Sunday! The service will livestream HERE, on your FPC APP, and live on Facebook. Engage, comment, and share! Use the hashtag #serveandshare when posting and invite friends and family to join in!

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3/18/20 LETTER TO THE CONGREGATION (Mailer)

Dear Friends:
May you know God’s presence and encouragement at this challenging and unsettling time. Last night the Session of First Presbyterian Church met to give special consideration to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the life of our congregation. After much heartfelt discussion several actions were taken. I encourage you to take the time to read the full contents of this letter.

First, all public gatherings for Sunday Worship and related activities are suspended through April 26, 2020. This includes the serving of Homebound Communion on Sunday, April 5. We know this is disheartening, but we believe it is necessary to conform to current Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for public gatherings in an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

Though our public gatherings are suspended, we are committed to providing Sunday worship for our congregation. Each Sunday the 11 a.m. service of worship will be live streamed and can be watched in real time (or later) on our website or church app. A companion “bulletin” will be available online to enable you to participate more fully. For those who would prefer, a CD of the service will be mailed or brought to you upon request.

Sadly, this includes Easter Sunday. However, we are working on some creative ways to worship on Easter and will communicate those as soon as we are able.

Second, all Wednesday Night meals and programming are suspended through April 29, 2020. Again, this is necessary to conform to CDC guidelines and do all we can to curb the spread of the virus. We are committed to providing creative child and adult spiritual resources on a weekly basis through social media and other platforms. Our Children’s Ministry department is already preparing materials for children and parents. We also strongly encourage Sunday school class, small groups, committees and others to continue meeting together using services
like FreeConferenceCall.com or Zoom. 

Third, pastoral care will continue for all members of the congregation and the church office will remain open at this time during our normal office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Do not hesitate to contact Dr. Garrett or our Director of Pastoral Care, Rev. Mitch Watson, for personal needs or information. In addition, you will be receiving calls from our officers and others to check on your situation and see if there are additional ways the
church can be supportive at this difficult time.

Finally, I encourage you to remember to support the life of the congregation through both your ongoing prayers and financial giving. It is easy to forget to make our tithes and offerings when we are not gathering regularly for worship, but our ongoing support of ministry, both here and around the world, depend on them.

This is a difficult time but certainly no more difficult than many Christians have faced at other times. We will get through this. We still have the tools of prayer, scripture, worship, and the support of one another. Now is the time to draw deeply on the faith that has been given to us, remember our need to love God and our neighbors, and draw on the hope that is always ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yours in Christ,
Dr. Mike Garrett, Pastor

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3/17/20 UPDATES

•  Children’s Ministry invites FirstKiz to make and mail cards to those who are hospitalized and home bound. Please email Mrs. Britany at britany@firstprez.com. She will provide you with the mailing address of people who would love to receive a card.

•  Please call or email Mrs. Britany at britany@firstprez.com if you would like a take-home Bible story packet so that you can spend time in God’s Word with your family. These will be made available for pick-up on Wednesday.

• The Fauré “Requiem” performance has been rescheduled for SEPTEMBER 27, 2020. Please email Dr. Marcia Mervin at marcia@firstprez.com for more information.

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3/16/20
CANCELLATION NOTICE FOR ALL WEDNESDAY TOGETHER FELLOWSHIP ACTIVITIES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

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3/14/20 CANCELLATION NOTICE FOR MARCH 15 WORSHIP SERVICES

The governor of N.C. has issued an executive order banning mass gatherings of over 100 persons and canceling school for two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16. In light of the governor’s action there will be no public worship services or Sunday school at FPC tomorrow, March 15. If possible we will stream some portion of the worship service. Further details about church activities and hours of operation will follow as soon as possible. If you need pastoral assistance don’t hesitate to contact one of the pastors at home.

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3/13/20 LETTER TO THE CONGREGATION FROM DR. GARRETT 

The Coronavirus – Covid-19, and how to respond to it, is very much on our minds. Our congregation needs to choose a path that avoids the extremes of denial and panic, follows the best expert guidance, and is particularly sensitive to our most vulnerable members. The situation is evolving on a daily basis, but at this moment we will take the following steps to do all we can to protect the health of our church family:
1. Handshaking, hugging, and other forms of close public greeting are discouraged. Please don’t take it personally, but your pastors will not shake your hand at worship. Consider a friendly wave or warm verbal greeting instead.
2. Fellowship time in Eller Hall will be adjusted. Limited food selections will be available this Sunday but will be served to you at your request by persons wearing food service gloves.
Please do not attempt to serve yourself, except for beverages. It is especially important we tell our children about this change.
3. Communion at future services will be served in a different manner. We will discontinue using a common cup for intinction or passing trays in the pews. Instead, folks will come forward to receive communion from a gloved server in an individual manner. We’ll provide more information as we get closer to our next communion service on April 5.
4. Public worship will happen this Sunday on our normal schedule. This too may change as guidance evolves in our community about public gatherings. We know that social distancing is effective in controlling the spread of the virus, so consider how close you sit to others in the sanctuary and chapel. You also have the option of viewing the live stream of the 11am worship service on Facebook and at firstprez.com.
5. The Session will meet on Tuesday, March 17th and will review the adequacy of all our Coronavirus guidelines and practices. It is likely that some things will change. You will of course be informed of any changes.

We can all follow the CDC guidelines, being particularly vigilant about washing our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you are sick, please stay at home. If you cough or sneeze, please cover your mouth and nose preferably with the crook of your elbow or a tissue.

Let’s take care of each other at this time. If you are remaining at home due to illness or concern about the virus, please contact me, or our Director of Pastoral Care, Mitch Watson, so we can keep up with you. This is a particularly good time to check in with each other, especially our brothers and sisters we might not have seen at worship in a while. We’ll get through this as we practice the faith, hope, and love that is at the center of our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

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RESOURCES FOR YOUR BENEFIT

First Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 569 (102 Ann St.), Fayetteville, NC, 28302

Phone: 910-483-0121, Fax: 910-483-3975
Established 1800