Dear PCJH Family,
Thank you for the great response to our survey! We had 124 people fill it out over the weekend which shows excellent participation. The information we gleaned from the survey was very helpful to our staff and elders as we prayerfully discussed and processed it all this week. Thank you! While we can’t share all of the survey data with you in this email, we thought we would share the results from the first question so you can see the wide variety of comfort levels within our congregation, which is probably reflective of our society as well.
The PCJH Session (Board of Elders) met last night for a “Special Meeting” in order to approve a thoughtful plan for reopening the doors of PCJH for in-person gatherings. Our aim is to do our best to safely include everyone wherever they are in regards to comfort level. I am very proud of our staff and elders who have shown great wisdom, love, and courage as we move forward into uncharted territory.
We would like to reiterate the following from our email last week:
Philippians 2:1-4 says: “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
We realize that there are differences of opinion regarding how best to move forward as a society, even among faithful followers of Christ. We all see the world a little differently because we all come from different life experiences and situations. We are also aware that we all have different comfort levels in interacting with others during this pandemic. In the midst of these realities, we want to encourage us all to be patient and kind to one another (1 Corinthians 13:4). Our Lord commands us to love one another for that is how we will show the world the truth of God’s love (John 13:35).
Perhaps you will disagree with a decision or procedure we are making as a church. That is to be expected and it is okay to disagree, but it is not okay to be rude, inconsiderate or divisive. We want to remind you that we are all trying to do our best in this unprecedented time. When it comes to reopening the church doors there is a lot to consider. Thank you for your grace.
The PCJH Session approved the following at last night’s meeting:
- Continue Livestream of our 10:15am service for those staying home. This will be something we continue as our “new normal” even beyond the pandemic.
- Sunday, June 7th – we will offer a 5:00pm outdoor service (weather permitting) on PCJH property as our first opportunity to gather in-person for worship . In 2020 we are proposing a monthly 5pm outdoor service on the first Sunday of June, July and August (possibly September too). The outdoor service will be in addition to our morning service.
- Sunday, June 14th – we will reopen our doors for in-person worship at our 10:15am service in the sanctuary during the livestream using appropriate health and safety guidelines (guided by the CDC and our local and state health departments). We will determine at a later date when to resume offering a service at 8:00am (TBD).
- JOY Summer Camp will open on June 22nd with limited capacity and hours, a change in the program schedule, and strict adherence to the CDC and the American Camp Association health and safety guidelines.
We want to remind you that this pandemic is an ever-changing and evolving situation so the plans we make today could change depending on new information and circumstances. We also have a comprehensive list of health and safety guidelines that we will be adhering to as a congregation (guided by the CDC and our local and state health departments). These guidelines will certainly change and evolve as time goes on. For now, this is what you can expect for our in-person gatherings:
What we are asking YOU to do in regards to health and safety protocols:
- When to stay home
- We encourage you to stay home if you are not comfortable with in-person gatherings for whatever reason. We especially want to encourage you to stay home if you fall into the “at risk” category. We realize that attending or not attending is a personal decision and we will respect each other as we each make our own individual choice.
- We ask that you stay home if you have the following symptoms: cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, flu symptoms.
- We ask that you self-quarantine for 14-days if you have traveled to a high risk area as defined by CDC or if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Alternatively, you could get tested for COVID-19. If your test is negative there would be no need to self-quarantine.
- Social distancing while at PCJH gatherings
- We will practice social distancing between people of different households by a minimum of six feet.
- We will arrange chairs in the sanctuary appropriately to make social distancing easy and straightforward.
- We will refrain from physical contact (i.e. shaking hands, passing the peace, and holding hands during the benediction).
- Practice healthy habits
- We encourage you to practice good hygiene (wash your hands for 20-seconds, use hand sanitizer frequently, cough or sneeze into your elbow, avoid touching your face: eyes, nose and mouth).
- We encourage you to wear a cloth mask as currently recommended by the CDC for faith communities. As this has become a controversial issue perhaps the best way to say this is “masks are appreciated” or as our local hospital has said: “Wearing a mask is not a big ask.” All staff and volunteers will be wearing masks.
- We will encourage people to either sing while wearing a mask or simply listen to the music and words and allow them to minister to your heart.
What PCJH is doing to ensure proper health and safety practices:
- Resources provided
- Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the facility.
- Masks will be provided for people who want/need one.
- PCJH will provide touchless thermometer readings for those who are interested.
- Practices being followed
- There will be NO passing of offering baskets or welcome pads. No shared use of Bibles or Hymnals. Pews and chairs will be stripped of all accessories (i.e. pens, giving envelopes, etc.). Offering boxes will be located in the back of the sanctuary.
- Bulletins, if necessary, will be provided by trained greeters.
- No coffee or snacks will be provided.
- The Lord’s Supper will be provided on the first Sunday of the month using proper health and safety guidelines provided by our denomination.
- There will be a clear protocol for restroom use. We encourage you to use the restroom at home before and after coming to worship.
- PCJH will keep a log of those in attendance pursuant to the 5/13/20 WY Governor order.
- Staff and volunteers
- All staff and volunteers will be signing a covenant agreeing to follow PCJH health and safety guidelines.
- There will be a team of trained greeters and ushers to help people navigate safely around the building and grounds.
- We will keep a log of staff and volunteers serving each week as they must be screened for health per the 5/13/20 Governor of WY order.
- Facility preparations
- The facility will be cleaned prior to each worship service.
- Windows and doors will be propped open where possible to increase clean air circulation and so people are not touching doorknobs. You might consider wearing warm clothes.
- Signs will be posted around the building regarding health and safety guidelines.
- The number of people gathered will be an ongoing concern that we will have to evaluate and mitigate as we move forward.
- We can provide additional outdoor seating along the southside of the sanctuary windows.
- We can also provide overflow rooms in Chapel, Genesis, and Hayden Hall.
- Response Plan
- PCJH has formed a response plan for if and when someone is exposed or has contracted COVID-19 through a PCJH gathering. The response plan will be initiated to prevent further spreading of the virus.
At this point in time we are still considering how best to safely provide Sunday nursery care and children’s Sunday School. Until then, children must be supervised by parents at all times.
We will switch Take-Out Thursdays to Take-Out Wednesdays the first week of June and continue with take-out meals through the end of June, and possibly into the summer. We will reevaluate in the Fall to see if it is safe to resume in-person meals in Hayden Hall. If not, we will continue with take-out.
We know this is a lot of information to process. If you are like us you probably have mixed emotions of feeling excited to see our church family begin to slowly gather again and also bummed that we have all these health and safety guidelines to consider. Church is going to be different for a while. Let us embrace the change and make the best of it. Remember God’s word from Romans 5:3-5 (NLT), “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Friends, may we all be filled with the Holy Spirit and see its fruit in our individual lives and our corporate life together as the Presbyterian Church of Jackson Hole.
Hang in there. We love you and look forward to seeing you when the time is right.
Pastors Ben & Tammy