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  • FCCW Regathering Update

    June 18, 2020

    Dear FCCW Congregation,

    As we come to the end of our regular church year, we know the thoughts of many are turning to the question of what the fall 2020 church season will look like for First Congregational Church of Winchester. We do not have the answers to that question yet, but we do want to assure you that our Regathering Team is in frequent discussions and planning.

    As we have communicated before, we will continue to worship virtually through the summer. As we work through the uncertainty around the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be back in touch with an update by August 21.

    Our Regathering Team is guided by the following principles:

    • The well-being and safety of our congregation will always be our highest priority. While the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have established protocols and guidance for houses of worship, we are taking a very cautious approach to reopening. We recognize that a majority of our congregational members, leaders, and staff members are in higher-risk categories. We will make our decisions based on how it will affect the most vulnerable among us. We are also aware of—and trying to take into account—mental, emotional and spiritual needs and vulnerabilities, as well as physical considerations.
    • Religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events. The acts of singing, the familiarity of people across households, the multigenerational community of children, youth, adults and seniors—the things that make our congregation special—create more risk for spreading the virus.

    To date, the Regathering Team’s virtual discussions have focused on understanding the guidance from the CDC, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Council of Conference Ministers United Church of Christ and the National Officers of the United Church of Christ. We want to understand how their guidance around in-person meetings and cleaning protocols relate specifically to us and our building, including staff, congregants and tenants.

    • Our building remains closed, with controlled access by a small number of people.
    • Anyone needing to go into the sanctuary to see the space is required to wear a mask, use hand sanitizer or wear gloves, and disinfect surfaces afterwards.
    • For our steeple renovation project, the contractor and our FCCW staff are following strict protocols for limiting contact and maintaining a clean environment.
    • We are educating ourselves on cleaning approaches and protocols so we can be prepared for any regathering scenarios.

    No matter what we decide in the coming weeks, even if it means worshiping virtually for a while longer, the gospel will be preached and the realm of God will grow through our efforts. Our ministries are essential services.

    These are most certainly unfamiliar and uncertain days, but we can be reassured that God is ever-present. Pray often. Listen for the comfort and guidance God’s Spirit has to provide. Steep yourself in the love of God at all times.

    Feel free to reach out to any members of the Regathering Team if you have questions or ideas.

    Yours in Christ,

    The FCCW Regathering Team
    Ed Banzy, Will Burhans, Regina Campbell, Kate Carpini, Jane Ring Frank, Sarah Gallop, Maggie Keeler, Jessica McArdle, Bill McCarter, Kathy Mortensen, Elizabeth Rozmanith, Susan Rozmanith, Jennie Ryan, Doug Taylor, and Kathleen Zagata

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