Dear members and friends,
As of right now, we will be holding church this Sunday. That may change, and the staff and board have been working to prepare for that reality. If it does change, we will continue to hold Sunday worship services online and hope that everyone will participate. Either way, we will be sending an email notice on Friday confirming plans for Sunday.
We are also working on creating additional opportunities to strengthen our beloved community through small group and online programming. As Steve and Eileen Costello said last week in their testimonial, we are fortunate to be stewards of such a beautiful building and it is the people who make this community so special. That is why we are placing your health and wellbeing at the forefront of our decisions.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has come upon us quickly, and is calling upon us to lean into the principles and sources of our faith tradition. We need to respond with love and reason, respecting differences of opinion while still holding to the highest good for the most people.
Continue to follow CDC recommendations for handwashing, limiting your exposure to large group gatherings, and keeping a reasonable distance from other people. If you are one of our beloved elders, please consider participating in service via our streaming.
As of today, the following changes have also been put into place at the FRS:
- Coffee hour and the receiving line will not be happening until further notice.
- Err on the side of caution, and do not come to church if you are feeling sick, or have been exposed to anyone who is ill or in quarantine. Use heightened caution if you have recently traveled out of the country or on airplanes.
- Greet one another with namaste hands, caring eye contact and kind words. Please refrain from hugs and shanking hands at service, or other church programming.
- We are starting a phone tree to keep those who are choosing to stay home connected to the church community. Please email Rev. Rebecca and Susan Ricker if you are staying home and would like to be added to the list to receive calls and connect with others who are also at home. Pastoral Care Associates are assembling the list, and someone will be in touch with you soon.
- The church has a Zoom video conferencing service which all groups are welcome to use with advance notice. Please contact Kristen Fehlhaber to schedule a Zoom meeting. This can be the sole way that your group meets, or offered as an alternative for people who cannot come in person. Please note that our account allows us to have one meeting at a time, meetings cannot be occurring simultaneously. Please speak with Kristen with as much notice as possible to schedule your meeting.
- Potluck events are on hiatus until further notice. We encourage you to have folks bring their own “picnic” meals in lie of a pot luck, or to hold your event without food.
Please reach out to Kristen Fehlhaber if you have any questions about your group gathering or technology. Please reach out to Reverend Rebecca or Julie Parker-Amery with any pastoral concerns.
Thank you to our staff team who is working so hard to respond with love and reason to this emerging situation. We are in communication with the city, and are working to ensure we coordinate efforts with their most to up to date information. As a large congregation drawing from many towns in the Newburyport region and New Hampshire, we recognize our need to be leaders in this effort at citizenry safety.
Rest assured that we will make good use of the opportunities that this situation offers – expanding our digital ministry, small group connection and authentic connection – all while journeying together and following the call of love.
In faith and love,