COVID-19 Updates


We will again hold indoor worship on August 9, with services at 8:45am and 6:00pm.
The 11:00am service will remain an outdoor service.
The sign-up information and link for August 9 services are below.
See the below announcements for more information.

 

Resources:

Sermons:

Pastor Nicoletti’s topical sermons regarding the pandemic can be found here.

Letters:

Portions of Dr. Ryan Gross’s letters to his elder group regarding the coronavirus from a medical perspective can be found here.

FAQ: Service Attendance and Masking:

Answers to questions regarding when to attend and when to stay home, as well as clarification on masking can be found here.

 

Updates:

Sign-Up Info for Aug 9 Services

Good evening FPC family!

On Sunday, August 9, we will again have the following in-person services:

  1. 8:45am Indoor Service
  2. 11:00am Outdoor Service
  3. 6:00pm Indoor Service

Below we have listed all the necessary information for sign up, arrival, and what to expect during the services.

Please feel free to contact the church office with any questions!

Additionally, if you have feedback or suggestions for the planning committee, please email the planning committee at the email address which can be found in the July 19 email to the congregation.

 

Prerequisite information:

  1. Please review the information provided by the CDC regarding what you should know about COVID-19  here and on recognizing symptoms of COVID-19 here.
  2. Please notify the church office if there has been any exposure to, or diagnosis of, COVID-19 in your household before or after any service.
  3. Please do not sign up, or if already signed up, you should not attend if you have a temperature over 100.4*, if you have symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19, or if you have been exposed in the past 14 days to an individual who has symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19. More clarification can be found here.
  4. Please notify the church office if you have signed up and are unable to attend for any reason.
  5. We encourage those in the “at-risk” group to continue to worship with us via our live stream, which will continue to be at 11:00am.
  6. At this time, we are only holding worship services. There will be no Sunday school or nursery.

Sign-Ups:

  1. You must sign up to attend a service.
    1. The number of seats you sign up for will be placed together and socially distanced from all other households.
    2. Households may (and should) sign-up together. For example, if you are regularly in full contact with your elderly parents, or are a caretaker for someone in the church, or your adult children still live with or spend significant time with you, you should feel free to sign-up for seats together.
  2. We will be using assigned seating for all services. This will help with fitting everyone in our spaces while ensuring proper distance between households
    1. It will also help simplify and expedite the process of setting up the chairs before each service.
    2. Deacons will be available to tell folks where to go, and there will be signage to identify seats for each household.
  3. The church office can assist anyone who cannot register online, please contact the church office.
  4. Because of the need to plan ahead, please do not switch services once you have signed up.
  5. Please sign up for only one service initially. After everyone has had a chance to sign up, we will alert the congregation by email if there are additional seats available, and you may register for a second service at that time.

 

CLICK HERE to sign up to attend Aug 9 services!

Sign-Ups will close Wednesday evening, Aug 5.

 

What to Expect upon Arrival:

  1. Parking:
    1. Parking is available as usual on So. Shirley St, our side of 8th St, the west (outer) parking lot, or the card shop parking lot. We encourage you to use the west lot.
    2. The north end (church office) parking should be reserved for elderly and mobility impaired, or families with small children – think of these as the new “reserved” spots.
    3. Please be aware that the alley is a public access road and will remain open and one-way. Parents, please do not let your children play in the parking lot or alley.
  2. Entrance and Exit:
    1. For indoor services, entrance to the building will be through the west (parking lot) entrance only. After the completion of the service, a deacon will release you by row to exit via the rear of the sanctuary and out through the west entrance doors.
    2. For outdoor services, entrance and exit to and from the building will be for access to the restrooms only and will be through the north (church office) entrance.
    3. We ask that people do not congregate in or travel throughout the building, so that we can control sanitizing efforts to focused areas.
  3. Greeters: A deacon will be available to greet you, and will have a box for tithes and offerings, direct you to your assigned seats, and provide sanitation supplies and the bulletin.
    1. For indoor services, you will also pick up prepackaged communion elements as you enter the building.
  4. Facemasks: Facemasks are required for the duration of the service, please bring one that is comfortable for you. If you are unwilling to wear a mask, we ask that you continue worshiping through the livestream at home. If you have a medical condition which prevents you from wearing a mask, please advise the church office in advance.
  5. Social Distancing: Those attending are asked to social distance before, during, and after the service.
    1. For indoor services, we are asking all attendees to proceed directly to their seats upon arrival, and exit the building immediately after the service, and not to congregate in the narthex or aisles.
  6. Bathrooms: The main floor bathrooms will be open for use.
    1. A deacon will be allowing access on a one-in, one-out basis for all services.
    2. Please do not use the lower or upper level restrooms
  7. Childcare and Nursery: At this time, no nursery or childcare will be available. Parents of young children should feel free to use the narthex (for indoor services) or rear area of the inner lot (for outdoor services) as necessary. The nursing mothers’ room will be available solely for mothers of nursing infants during the indoor service only. Social distancing and masking remain required.

 

What to Expect in the Service:

  1. Announcements and Petitions: An elder or the pastor will give announcements and lead petitions
  2. Tithes and Offering: Tithes and offerings may be given via the drop boxes at a greeter’s table. No plate will be passed during the service
  3. Congregational Singing: We will be singing as a congregation, and the hymns will be provided in the bulletin. Masks are to be worn throughout.
    1. Our indoor services will feature less congregational singing.
  4. The Lord’s Supper: Instructions will be given during the service or in the bulletin.
    1. For outdoor services, we will continue doing as we have done in past weeks.
    2. For indoor services, officers will serve you in your seats. Once everyone has been served, we will partake together.
  5. Disposal of Items: All disposable items (cups, bulletins, wipes) should be disposed of as congregants leave the service. Please do not leave anything behind on your seats.

 

If you have any questions, please contact the church office, and we will be happy to answer them.

 

Letter to the Congregation – General Update on 2020 Summer Plans

7/6/2020

To the Congregation of Faith Presbyterian Church,

We would like to update you on our plans for conducting worship services and other church meetings during the summer of 2020.

Since June 14th, we have been holding outdoor services on Sundays at 8:45, 11:00, and 1:15; online services at 11:00 and 6:00; and prayer meeting via Zoom. We have been doing so in ways we consider reasonably safe. We continue using the “Big Four” mitigation strategies—wearing masks, maintaining 6 ft social distancing, washing/sanitizing hands, and self-isolating when ill. We are taking these actions in order to balance worshiping the Lord rightly and protecting our most vulnerable members. Further, we want to maintain a good witness to our neighbors and avoid super-spreader events, such as we’ve seen with the March 2020 choir practice in Skagit County and services held this spring at a church in eastern Oregon.

In the near term, we are expanding our use of the tent and plan to hold one service indoors. As you may know, just this past week we held the mid-week Youth Group meeting outdoors in the tent. The meeting used the Big Four, as well as other requirements. If you lead an FPC ministry, would like to hold a meeting in the tent, and understand and are willing to enforce all of the requirements, please contact Mr. Whaley, our Church Administrator.

As announced yesterday, beginning July 19 we plan to hold the 6:00 service in the tent while continuing to make it available on our livestream. That same day, we plan to begin holding the 8:45 service indoors. We are starting with just one indoor service initially, which will allow us to identify many of the new complexities involved with indoor worship. We intend to expand to more indoor services in August.

Please note that this indoor service will not be an exact replica of the Sunday morning worship services we have enjoyed for many years. It will be shorter and have less congregational singing, and we will distribute the Lord’s Supper elements to people sitting in the pews. Between 125 and 150 people will be able to participate, and they will still need to sign-up online so that we can plan appropriately. Masking and social distancing will still be necessary. Next week, we will explain more about these changes and what to expect of an indoor service.

By the beginning of September, we hope all of our services and mid-week meetings will be inside. We will gradually expand from the one (8:45) indoor service in July, to two (8:45 and 6:00), and then to all three (8:45, 11:00 and 6:00). That will prepare us to hold all worship services and mid-week meetings indoors when it is too cold and wet to meet outside in the tent.

This gradual approach will also help us, the deacons, and the church staff identify and address any gaps or unforeseen problems. Over the course of the summer, we want all of us to be familiar and comfortable with our indoor services and their associated patterns. We aren’t publishing a schedule for moving indoors because we think there is a risk that unforeseen events could prevent us from meeting such a schedule.

We understand that many of us are uncomfortable with or clearly should not attend services in person. Please continue worshiping remotely via the livestream. No one should feel like they MUST attend in person.

We hope to begin allowing small groups to meet indoors soon and will announce when we are ready to do so. Meeting indoors will involve social distancing and several other administrative steps. The church office will help provide guidance on clearing those steps when we are ready to allow those activities to resume. We do not anticipate resuming Children’s Ministry until at least the fall.

Making these plans forces us to balance good but competing needs. The Lord calls us, His people, to worship Him; and we want to do so in ways that keep our neighbors safe. We love to sing praises to our God, but unfettered singing is a contributor to spreading the coronavirus. We want Sunday services that minister to those who attend and honor those whose health could be affected if they joined us in person. We desire to honor our Lord while preserving health and meeting public health guidelines. There is no playbook for this decision-making, and we understand that not everyone will enthusiastically agree with every decision we make.  Please pray for us, the deacons, and the church staff, that we would wisely and practically design and implement plans to increase our indoor worship services and mid-week meetings.  Pray for the unity of our church and the worldwide church during these challenging times.

Finally, these times are difficult for all of us. Some are working fewer hours or have lost jobs altogether. Others have been working but doing so in close proximity to the sick—and are concerned about infecting their loved ones. Being confined, working from home, or attending school remotely, all amplify our daily struggles. Whatever your situation, please contact the deacons or us as we want to help share your burdens.

 

-The Session of Faith Presbyterian Church

You can download a copy of the letter here.

Update on Sunday Gatherings – Changes Beginning July 19!

 

 

7/5/2020

We will again hold 3 outdoor services next week, July 12. Sign-up will again be via Eventbrite, and instructions and the sign-up link will be available on the church website as well as in the congregation email that will go out after the conclusion of the evening service tonight.

On the following Sunday, July 19, we will be making some changes!

  1. First, we will begin meeting indoors! This will be for the 8:45am service only. This will be a slightly shortened service, with less singing. Social distancing, masks, advance sign-up, and assigned seating will continue to be necessary. The Lord’s supper will be served. More specifics will be shared as part of an extended announcement next week.
  2. Second, we will be discontinuing the 1:15pm service, and instead be moving to an outdoor evening service! As is our custom, the evening service will continue to be different from the morning services, but the Lord’s supper will again be served.
  3. We are asking households to register for only one of the three in-person services – the 8:45am indoor service, the 11:00am outdoor service, or the 6:00pm outdoor service. Sign-up will be available after the evening service next Sunday.
  4. We hope this will allow all who wish to worship in person to do so. As before, we do not want anyone to feel obligated to attend an in-person service at this time, and would encourage our vulnerable congregants to worship with us via the live-stream.

Finally, we will be sending out a congregational email tomorrow from the session, outlining general plans for the remainder of the summer and into fall. This email will be more a general update, with more concrete information becoming available for specific services and activities as changes occur.

 

Clarification Regarding Attending Services and Masking

7/2/2020

Hello FPC Family,

We have received a number of questions from the congregation around attendance at services and masking, and so we wanted to provide some answers and clarification.

Regarding when to attend and when not to attend:

  1. We are requesting that you do not attend services if you have a temperature over 100.4*, if you have symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19, or if you have been exposed in the past 14 days to an individual who has symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19.
    1. Symptoms may include a cough, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms, and the CDC maintains an updated list here.
  2. If you were directly exposed to someone with COVID-like symptoms you should not come to church, but if you were not directly exposed, you may come. For example, if your spouse was exposed to third party with COVID-like symptoms at work, they should not come to church until 14 days have passed since exposure. However, if you were not exposed to that third party yourself, you may still come.
  3. If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms but have tested negative, we would still ask you to remain at home until all of the following are true: you have had at least 3 days without fever, your symptoms are improving, and there have been at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
  4. Please do not attend services if you have not signed up to attend. We are limited in our seating capacity and would ask that if you were not able to sign up to attend the service, please do not come.

Regarding masking:

  1. Please let the church office know in advance if you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask so that we can be aware of the issue and plan seating arrangements accordingly.

Thank you all for your patience and grace as we navigate these unusual times! As always, please contact the church office if you have any questions!

 

Some Clarifications on Masks and Attendance at Sunday Gatherings

6/26/20

It has been a joy to see so many of you at our outdoor services the past two Lord’s Days, and I hope that it has been a blessing to those of you who have attended in person and those who have been attending online.

I want to thank you all for your hard work and diligence in following the new precautions as we gather for worship. We know these have been frustrating for some and new for everyone. I am so grateful for everyone’s patience, willingness to follow these precautions at our gatherings, and work in adjusting to the requirements.

We have been asked some questions and seen some areas that need clarification, and I want to address those in this email.

 

Masks

As you know, masks are required at all times at the gathered services.

First, we’d like to clarify and emphasize the importance that the mask requirement includes keeping our masks fully on during all congregational singing.

Second, we’d like to remind everyone that your mask needs to be worn in a way that covers both your mouth and your nose.

Third, some have come to worship wearing masks that come with an exhalation valve, which makes it easier to breath out. These masks offer protection to the one wearing them (filtering when you inhale), but they do not adequately protect those around you from you (they provide no barrier for when you exhale). One of our biggest goals with masking is to protect others from ourselves, and so these masks do not meet the masking requirements for our gatherings. If these are the masks you have been wearing, please bring something different on Sunday (such as a cloth mask, surgical mask, or an n95 mask without an exhalation valve).\

Fourth, while face shields help protect the wearer in many ways, they do not provide adequate protection for other people from what is exhaled by the wearer, and so they are not a replacement for wearing a facemask on Sunday.

 

When Not to Attend

Finally, we want to give some clarification regarding who should not attend worship.

As we have said in our previous emails, you should not attend services if you have a temperature over 100.4*, or if you have symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19.

We would like to add that you also should not attend services if you know you have been exposed in the last 14 days to someone with symptoms related to, or a diagnosis of, COVID-19.

Thank you all for your patience and diligence with these matters as we all seek to navigate these issues!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church office.

 

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Nicoletti

 

Summary of Outdoor Worship Schedule

Outdoor worship services will be held on Sundays at 8:45 am, 11:00 am, and 1:15 pm. For those who may be used to attending an 8:15 am service, please note that the earliest service begins at 8:45. Services are for pre-registered congregants only.

The 11:00 am service will continue to be live-streamed for those who feel safer worshiping at home. While the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at the outdoor service, the doctrine of both our church and our denomination prevent us from officiating it for those at home. Please see a further explanation provided on our Bulletin & Announcements page.

At the outdoor services, health safety guidelines will be closely followed. For more information, please see the post below regarding the outdoor worship services. In addition, you will find Dr. Ryan Gross’s announcement in the evening worship service on June 7 very helpful. It can be accessed via the live-stream archive here as part of a video of the entire evening service.

The 6:00 pm service will continue to be live-stream only. No outdoor worship service will be held.

 

Announcement: Outdoor Worship to begin June 14, 2020

 
Pastor Nicoletti announced on Sunday Morning that we will begin hosting outdoor services on June 14, 2020.
More information will be shared during an extended announcement in the evening service on June 7.

 

Letter to the Congregation: COVID-19 Update #2 – May 30, 2020

To the Congregation of Faith Presbyterian Church,

Many thanks to those of you who have written with your comments to the pandemic planning committee. We are reading them all and encourage you to continue sending helpful comments, advice, and questions to the dedicated e-mail address. (Note: We sent this out to the congregation by email. If you did not receive it, please contact the church office.)

We met again for 2-1/2 hours on Thursday evening, May 28th, and we are in the process of updating the Session this weekend. We will continue to advise you immediately about specific plans as they become available.

The committee has asked me to respond to your input as well as update you in general. Without quoting your comments and questions directly, the following paragraphs address the common themes in the e-mails we have received so far.

As you know, the situation is changing rapidly, and in Tacoma and Pierce County, the news regarding viral cases and hospitalizations continues to improve. There is a reason for thanksgiving to our merciful God!

As we move forward in response to this disease, it is going to be vitally important that we act in unison, in love for one another, as the Body of Christ. We can diminish the likelihood that one infected person will spread illness to one or two others. But more importantly, we must take the steps necessary to prevent one person from spreading this illness to 30 or 50 others at one time. Whatever our response looks like in the specific details, it will almost certainly involve masking, distancing, hand hygiene, and an individual willingness to stay home and away from others when we are ill. Alone, each step is insufficient but, taken together, they are a powerful deterrent to viral spread.

The officers are working hard preparing to deal with this viral disease and the attendant risks to our congregation. There is much to be done, and we will need many willing hands to help.

The frequent comparisons of COVID 19 to influenza have obscured the fact that this viral disease is unique, dangerous, and remains very incompletely understood. You need to know that the medical professionals caring for and studying COVID patients are generally quite alarmed. The comment, “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” is becoming common.

You should be aware, for instance, that (quite unlike influenza) roughly 5% of folks in their 50s who develop COVID-19 wind up in the hospital. That rate goes up further with increasing age. I did a quick run through the church directory and counted over 125 people whom I know are over 50 years of age. In the directory, I counted over 30 people who are either over the age of 80 or have serious high-risk health problems, or both.

As the virus has become better understood, it is more apparent that the primary mode of transmission is respiratory, and that people who are still a day or so from developing the symptoms are often highly infectious. And at this point, we have no way to identify those asymptomatic carriers who will put others near them at risk.

It is also more clear that a very efficient way to spread the virus widely is to pack large numbers of people into an enclosed space, have at least one symptomatic or asymptomatic carrier, and then sing or speak together for an hour or more. The reality is that congregational worship is a much higher risk event than shopping at Costco.

Like you, the officers of FPC are extremely desirous of resuming our worship and all aspects of our lives together as soon as possible. We are not operating in fear. We have not placed our confidence in science, but rather in the God whose orderly creation makes scientific study possible. We are not burning incense to emperors, but we are acknowledging our obligations to the civil authority God has established over us and to sacrificially love our community neighbors as the Scripture instructs us to do. And we have not forgotten our obligations to worship together nor are we unmindful of the losses we are all suffering in this time.

For those wishing help to find the right balance and wisdom as they face some of these same questions in their households, we encourage you to contact an elder directly to talk through the spiritual implications. We don’t have “one size fits all” solutions for you, but we would love to be of service to you in that way.

As we live through this pandemic we will need, together, to observe universal precautions for the coming months, for as long as SARS-COV2 is a threat. We will gather again, soon (the Lord willing), as soon as we can all learn, together, how to protect one another and especially the most vulnerable among us. Again, more details will be coming, but we want to encourage you to be mindful about masks (my mask protects you from me, and yours protects me from you), distancing (6 feet isn’t magic, but it is reasonable), hand hygiene (wash, wash, wash…this virus dissolves in soap and water), and staying home when ill (no one will ever criticize you ever again for staying home with a mere cold).

We cannot eradicate this virus, and so we will have to learn to live with it. In reliance upon God’s grace, we will learn together, and fast.

Blessings to all,

Ryan Gross M.D.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the letter

 

Elder Dr. Ryan Gross’s remarks during morning announcements – May 24, 2020

Elder and member of the planning committee Dr. Ryan Gross gave a few brief remarks regarding the congregational letter and current plans during morning announcements on May 24, 2020.

 

Letter to the Congregation: COVID-19 Update #1 – May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020

To the Congregation of Faith Presbyterian Church,

This is the first of what the Session anticipates will be a regular series of updates to you regarding our operations during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  As you have heard, the Session and Diaconate have formed a committee of the pastors, the church administrator Mr. Whaley, two elders (Drs. Darby and Gross) and two deacons (Mr. Lawty and Mr. Skrivan) to supply recommendations and plans to the officers as we move through this public health emergency.  That committee met on May 12, reported to the Session on May 14, and will continually reassess the evolving situation and our response to it.

We want you to be aware that our primary concerns remain fidelity to God’s Word, a firm commitment to our communal worship and sacraments and prayer, and the demonstration of love to God, to our neighbors, and to one another.   The Session must seek balance between our Lord’s command to worship together with His command to care for the most vulnerable among us.  We wish to restore in-person worship and the Lord’s Supper as soon as it is medically advisable and wise to do so.

At this moment, we think it is prudent to continue our current approach, with online worship on the Lord’s Day and online prayer meetings each Wednesday evening.  We expect this will be our approach for several more weeks at the least.  Church services, gathering as they do large numbers of people in enclosed spaces speaking and singing together, serve as efficient vectors of respiratory virus transmission.  We judge that the risk of community spread of this deadly infection remains quite high at this time.

Much remains unknown about the nature of the pandemic virus (SARS-COV-2) and the disease it causes.  There are yet many active cases of COVID-19 in Pierce County, and particularly in Tacoma.  Worse still, the known cases probably represent only 10% or less of the actual infections in the community.  17% of the known cases in Pierce County are in health care workers.  Pray on for those most vulnerable among us.

We are establishing a dedicated email address for questions and insights from members and adherents of the congregation. (Note: We sent this out to the congregation by email. If you did not receive it, please contact the church office.) We will gather those together intermittently and attempt to periodically address relevant questions and helpful advice with these updates over time.  Also, we will establish a dedicated page on our church website for the publication of these updates.

We recognize that any decisions we reach will invariably come as welcome news and relief to some, and significant frustration to others among us.  In the face of this calamity, and the reality of human uncertainty and ignorance, we call the congregation to prayerful humility both in public and in private.  We will all, together as the Body of Christ, seek His wisdom for us.

Pray on for God’s continued great mercy to us in this time of trouble.

For the Session,

Ryan Gross M.D.
Elder, FPC

Click here to download a PDF copy of the letter

 

Letter to the Congregation: What to Expect in the Weeks Ahead – March 19, 2020

Dear FPC Family,

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It has been an eventful week since my last letter to you on March 13th. It has been a time of adjustment and change for everyone, with shifting practices regarding work, new homeschooling tasks and responsibilities for students and parents, disconnection from our church and communities for all, and anxiety and uncertainty for many. This is a challenging experience for everyone.

And yet, as we remind ourselves again and again, Christ is Lord. He loves us and is sovereign.

At the church, our leadership has been working on how we can best continue to minister to you all under these challenging and unusual circumstances, continuing to do the work of the Church as best we can, while loving our neighbors through best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

I’d like to update you all on what to expect from the church in the weeks ahead:…

Click here to read the entire letter

 

Letter to the Congregation: Cancelling of In-Person Worship – March 13, 2020

Dear Faith Family,

After a lot of thought the session has decided to cancel our gathering for worship this coming Lord’s Day, March 15th. We have also decided to cancel all mid-week church events from March 16th through
the 21st.

As an alternative to gathering together for worship, we will offer a streaming service available at 11:00 on our website.

Under the video there will be a link to a PDF with the order of service. We’d encourage you to join us at 11:00 through the streaming video, with the PDF open before you either in another window, or on another device. The PDF will include scans of the hymns that we will be singing from the hymnal.

This is, of course, not ideal. It’s not the same as being together, in any number of ways. This was a difficult decision for the session to make for that very reason. We rightly value the gathering with God’s people, on the Lord’s Day, to worship. We can worship God individually and with our families of course – and that is very good. But it is not the same as being together with the gathered congregation. Nonetheless, we are still united as God’s people by his Spirit, and the technology of the livestream allows us to worship at the same time, even while in separate places. We are thankful for that…

Click here to read the entire letter