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Given the potential for a serious outbreak of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease) in our area, the Session of First & Central has enacted the following changes to our communal life (effective March 12) which have been adapted from guidelines prepared by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance of the PCUSA.

Immediate actions:

  1. Close every other pew in the sanctuary to create space between worshipers.

  2. Discontinue “coffee hour” after the service.

  3. Discontinue coffee at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays and all other times. Folks using the building will need to bring their own personal bottle of water or travel mug of coffee or tea should they desire. Disposable cups will be available in the restrooms and church kitchens.

  4. Shut off all water fountains and put signs on them stating that they are restricted due to health concerns.

  5. Disinfect every handrail and door knob/handle in the church on a weekly (minimum) basis. Preferably as late in the week as possible.

  6. Request that anyone feeling ill should stay home – guilt-free and knowing that they are showing their care and concern by not being around others.

  7. Discontinue the use of name tags.

  8. Reinforce “Passing of the Peace” as non-contact gestures.

  9. Print the hymns and Bible passages in the bulletin to eliminate need for hymnals and Bibles.

  10. Be sure that all lavatories have ample supply of soap and paper towels.

  11. Tim Rodden will act as church’s liaison to Christiana Care for updates and current status of any outbreak.

  12. Change method of communion to:

  • Worshipers still come forward but are requested to keep minimum of three feet between people in line.

  • Discontinue common cup and use trays with disposable communion cups and grape juice

  • A basket will be provided for disposal of the cups a short distance from the tray so people have a moment to consume the elements.

  • Continue to use gluten-free bread cut into small, one-inch square pieces. These will be gently dropped into a worshiper’s cupped hands by the celebrant who will wear gloves.

  • All persons handling any of the elements have gloved hands including:

    • Handling/cutting the bread

    • Handling/filling the cups

    • Presiding and serving

Scientists' model of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus identified in 2019.

Elders and staff will contact groups using the church to ascertain their readiness and preparedness protocol. The Church maintains the right and responsibility to close regardless of a group’s needs or plans.

In the event of closing:
 

  1. Session will communicate electronically to monitor ongoing developments and the condition of church members/friends and their families. 

  2. Doug will produce an audio worship service and distribute to the congregation on Saturday late afternoon.

  3. Doug will provide the congregation his personal cell phone number for contact especially in the event of pastoral care needs.

  4. Weekly email will also contain more devotional/reflection material.


Session and staff are working very hard to offer a reasoned response to the outbreak and recognizes that should things escalate, we may have to alter our plans and protocol. The goal is to keep all persons who assemble in our building as safe as possible while offering as much freedom of movement and access as possible. The above is a good-faith effort to that end.

New Castle Presbytery is now recommending these guidelines to all its congregations.