June 12, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Below is a plan recommended by our staff and approved by our session for the gradual reopening of our church. We believe this is consistent with recommendations outlined in phase 2 of NC, faithful to who we are as a Church Family, and sensitive to the realities of an intergenerational church. Leadership has kept a close eye on what other faith communities have experimented with, including Mooresville and local ECO churches, and all staff and session members have signed off unanimously on this 6-point plan. Although this cannot possibly satisfy or please all church members, we have prayerfully listened to one another and believe this to be a good starting point that is honoring to God and sensitive to the needs and concerns of the Body. The following has been approved through August, yet will be evaluated regularly between now and then by our session for potential tweaks and adjustments:
1. Corporate worship- We will be launching live, in person, worship services on Sunday, June 28th. The contemporary service will be held at 9:30am in 143 Broad and the traditional service will be held at 11am in the sanctuary. Both buildings will have a social distancing set-up and masks are strongly recommended for all. There will be sanitizing stations and disposable face masks available at entrances. Ushers will not be passing out bulletins or offering plates, yet there will be opportunities for pickup or drop off at the entrances. The sanctuary will block off every other row and have taped sections designated for individuals and family groups. We will have a similar set up in 143 Broad. Both services will have space available for overflow- from the sanctuary to 143 Broad and from 143 Broad to the Fellowship Hall (overflow spaces will receive the service live-streamed). Worship/music will be very similar to our live streamed services. We will not reintroduce the choir until at least Labor Day weekend. There will be no nursery available, yet a “cry room” space will be in place for parents with young children if needed. At the conclusion of worship services, ushers will guide the dismissal of congregants in an organized fashion, row by row. Pastors and worship leaders will not be required to wear masks on the platform, yet are strongly encouraged to do so if and when they are interacting with folks inside either building on the ground floor.
2. Small group gatherings- We will be allowing live, in person, small group gatherings, beginning Monday, June 15th. For adult and family activities, small groups should not exceed 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. For youthgroup activities, based upon Bryan’s recommendation, small groups should not exceed 10 people indoors or outdoors. Bryan will also have the ability to initiate small group outings with youth in compliance to our safe church guidelines and with the permission of parents. All youth will be given small group opportunities. Each small group, adults and youth, will have the freedom to come up with their own covenant when it comes to wearing masks.
3. Committee meetings- We will be allowing the chair of each committee to determine whether or not to continue meeting by zoom or to meet live, in person, beginning Monday, June 16th. If live, they will be required to use the Fellowship Hall with social distancing in place. The session, deacons, and any committee will be allowed to exceed 10 people as long as they agree to adhere to 6 feet of distancing or face masks. Again, we trust each group to come up with a consensus of what they feel is appropriate to the group and respectful to all voting members.
4. Office hours- We will begin a gradual opening of our main office Tuesday, June 16th. Office hours will be 10am-2pm, Monday-Friday, and will be limited to appointments only. Face masks in the main office area will be required. A hand sanitizer machine will be placed outside the office door as well as disposable face masks. Pastor or staff appointments can be made outside of these hours (for example, 9am or 4pm), yet the main office itself will be limited to 10am-2pm for phone calls or scheduling. We will reevaluate our office hours as we begin to approach Labor Day weekend.
5. Ministry appointments- Parishioners will be required to make appointments for live, in person meetings with staff, beginning Tuesday, June 16th. This is out of respect for our office staff and traffic flow. Parishioners are required to wear a mask in the main office area and are to clarify beforehand if they would like for the staff person to wear a mask during their meeting. If the parishioner and requested staff person is okay not wearing masks, they can lower the mask in the staff person’s office and remain at least six feet apart.
6. Visitation- We are requiring all pastoral visits to be initiated by parishioners from now until at least the month of August. Our pastoral staff is not in position to determine how vulnerable the health is of each of our parishioners. Also, our pastoral staff does not want to put any family in an awkward position of having to say “no.” This does not feel natural to our pastors, yet all of our safety precautions and shut-downs in this pandemic have been due to protecting those who are physically vulnerable. Both Pastor Dave and Pastor Jason have expressed their willingness and desire to visit any parishioner upon request.
It is exciting to consider the reality of us finally being in person together! However, please do not lose sight of the fact that the pandemic still exists and there are still many who feel unsafe and vulnerable. We want all members to feel valued and respected, regardless of where you may stand on some of the delicate issues being addressed. If you feel uncomfortable with any aspect connected to the approved reopening of our church, please know that there will be no judgment for those who choose to stay home. Live streamed services will still be available online and leadership will continue to respond to any need for phone calls, deliveries, etc. In behalf of staff and our church session, I want to reemphasize our love for you and our gratitude for your encouragement during this unprecedented crisis in our culture. And remember, God is completely in control and with His guidance, we will ultimately become a better, stronger, Church Family!
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Dave Rockness
May 15, 2020
Dear Church Family,
First and foremost, thank you all for your encouragement and graciousness in this time of uncertainty. We are in unprecedented times and yet our church is still functioning as a spiritual family. Although a livestreamed service does not take the place of corporate worship in person, we still have been blessed by this new resource to have some sense of normalcy and connection. Although ministry have been limited by a lack of physical contact, we still have people reaching out to one another by phone, texts, e-mail, social media, doorstep deliveries, and good old fashioned letter writing. Our elders and deacons, along with many committees, have been communicating by Zoom (online, digital connections). Also, our staff has stayed in close contact with one another and is doing their best to engage with folks in their areas of ministry. Again, thank you for your gracious support and for continuing to be the church!
In regards to moving forward as a church into summer, our session met this past week by Zoom and would like me to communicate our plan for the upcoming weeks and months. With Gov. Cooper’s phase one still in place, our church is limited to having no more than ten people in a gathering at once. If phase two begins on schedule, corporate gatherings will still be limited for another 4-6 weeks. With this in mind, our session has decided to continue operating in the same manner as a church through the month of June- livestreamed services and ministries, closed offices (office staff still checking mail, paying bills, sending communications), online meetings for staff and committees by Zoom, weekly announcements by e-mail, monthly newsletters, and additional pastoral updates once or twice a month by “snail mail.” Our session will meet again mid-June to determine how to move forward in July and August. Our elders believe that as an intergenerational church (many seniors), we are wise to not be on the “front lines” of re-entry from this pandemic. As trends begin to emerge, we can then begin to make more informed decisions with the health and safety of all parishioners in mind.
Lastly, thank you for your faithfulness in giving! Although contributions are slightly down, our current giving has been strong enough to not only take care of our entire staff (part-time and full-time), but to provide for local ministries as well (Christian Mission, Soup Kitchen, etc.). Our Finance Committee and Session feel confident that if we can sustain our current giving we are still in a healthy position to provide for our staff and families as we move into the summer months. We will do our best to communicate financial updates through our monthly newsletter and again express gratitude for those of you who have been able to give financially during these most challenging times.
I close with an insight I recently heard from a fellow pastor and author. He said that churches often feel the urge to put on running shoes and carry flashlights. It’s in our DNA. We desire to be upfront and make an impact right now for Jesus. However, we are now living in a moment in which it is wise to put on hiking boots and carry lanterns. This isn’t necessarily bad. In fact, much of discipleship takes place when we slow down, gain solid footing, spend time in quiet and solitude, and trust in God to lead and guide as we seek to grow in our relationship with Christ. Hang in there!
Much love in Christ,
Pastor Dave Rockness
March 28, 2020
Dear church family,
In light of Governor Cooper's "Stay in Place" order for the entire state, we will no longer be keeping church office hours during the week. Please know that your staff will continue to stay busy from home, communicating with folks in their area of ministry and responding to congregational needs. Please take note of the following changes and communicate them to folks in our church who may not have online access...
Worship- We will continue to live stream on Sunday mornings. However, it will be a stripped down version of worship and changed to 9:30 am. Our live stream can be found on the church website (www.mooresvillefpc.org).
Communications- We will still send out weekly announcements and updates through Constant Contact, as well as the April newsletter. However, we will not have a person present in the main office to receive phone calls. Please feel free to still call the church office and leave messages and/or e-mails with our staff. They will check their office messages regularly. In an emergency situation, please contact Pastor Dave (cell#- 860-201-7969) or Pastor Jason (cell #- 781-267-5553).
Food and Coat Drives- We will continue to keep a labelled bin in the carport for the food and coat drives. They will be checked on regularly and delivered to the appropriate places.
Ministry- We will still utilize the ministry team for the purpose of helping serve the older community and shut-ins. If you have a need, please contact Pastor Jason or Pastor Dave and we will make sure to mobilize our team for deliveries. This is still allowed within the "Stay in Place" ordinance.
Giving- For those still able to give, your tithes and offerings are still greatly valued. I have instructed all staff to be cautious with spending in 2020 even when things return to normal. At the same time, I feel responsible, as Head of Staff, to make sure all PT and FT employees continue to get paid in order to provide for their families. We also hope to do our best as a church to provide ongoing support to our mission partnerships- both local and globally. You may send checks by mail (249 W. McLelland Ave., Mooresville, NC, 28115) or contribute through online giving (www.mooresvillefpc.org).
Folks, thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given during this global crisis. We will continue to be the church during this time of uncertainty and hope to only strengthen as we weather the storm. Please keep safe and may the Lord continue to bless you!
Latest update-Services cancelled
March 14, 2020
As of today, Gov. Cooper has mandated that all gatherings of over 100 attendees be cancelled. As we honor God by honoring those in authority, all physical services will be cancelled at First Presbyterian Church tomorrow.
With our new live streaming technology, our church will stream an online-only service at 8:30am tomorrow. Please note, this is online-only as we will have no physical services.
We would also like to remind you that all church activities are cancelled until further notice. Our staff will be meeting this Thursday to plan for the next few weeks as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
May the God of peace guard our hearts.
FPC Pastors, Elders, and Staff
March 14, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Due to the most recent communications from our governor and decisions made by the school system, we will be cancelling all programmed activities at the church this upcoming week. Our modified worship services and Sunday school is still in place, but the Logos musical and confirmation retreat will be postponed along with all other scheduled events. The staff will be working on a strategic plan this upcoming week to address ministry needs and a revised calendar. We will give an update by the end of the week. And remember, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9
March 13, 2020
Dear Church Family,
As you all are aware, the Coronavirus is a growing concern and we at the church are making an effort to lead our church through this as best we can.
I want to start by reminding us that God encourages us not to fear. The bible actually tells us not to fear 365 times. You could say, one verse for every day of the year. While the virus is a very real reason for concern and precaution, we should not fear. No matter what circumstances may come, we are safe in the arms of Jesus.
With regard to our life together during this season, the church has decided to make a few temporary accommodations:
- For the time being, our greeters and pastors will not offer a handshake when welcoming people into our church or saying goodbye. We will continue to be welcoming, but for the foreseeable future smiles and kind words will be our method of welcoming going forward.
- Our offering will be collected at the back of the church as you leave so that we are not passing plates through the congregation.
- Our next communion is on March 29 and between now and then we will evaluate if we need to make some changes in how we give and receive this sacrament.
- As a way to serve our church body during this season, please stay at home if you feel sick. It is our hope to have our services live streamed on our website very soon.
Below are some links to websites that offer information and guidance in how to respond to this personally. Please take some time to look through this information.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
During this time we have an opportunity to offer a strong witness to those around us as we trust and believe in God's goodness in and through difficult times. Please join me in praying for our church, community, country, and the world as this virus continues to interrupt life for many.
Your Pastors and the Session