To All Moderators and Clerks of Session from the Revs. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace – Executive Presbyter, and Kevin L. Porter – Stated Clerk
June 24, 2020 – Resources for Consideration of Re-Opening after COVID-19
Dear Colleagues in Ministry,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! It is our deepest prayer that this letter finds you, those dearest to you, and the congregation and community you serve in ministry continually assured of God’s abiding presence in these days!
When we took our ordination vows none of us could have envisioned what it would mean to bring our fullest portion of “energy, intelligence, imagination, and love” to bear in witnessing to the living Christ in this season. Yet, as you look back over your journey of these past few months we hope you will find yourself as inspired by God’s faithfulness as we have been with every story we receive of the unique ways you have answered God’s call to be the Church – affirming by your actions that the Church is not the building!
May these stories be manna for you now as you begin to look ahead in prayerful discernment of how you would lead your congregation forward in what it truly means to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matt. 22:37,39) given the intention of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to move from the “yellow” phase of activity to the “green” phase in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
It is each session’s responsibility to discern how and when your congregation should take the various steps required to transition into increased activity safely. Even as the suburban counties will be allowed to move into green as soon as this weekend (and the city of Philadelphia the following weekend with certain additional restrictions) please note from the Governor’s webpage describing the movement through the various stages ( https://www.governor.pa.gov/process-to-reopen-pennsylvania/ ), in this case green does not mean 100% full speed ahead!
We encourage each session to designate a task-force representative of the various committees best-equipped to inform the session in its decision making if you have not done so already. Regardless of the particular steps and actions which will constitute your congregation’s plan, we strongly encourage every plan to include social distancing, the use of masks, regular deep cleaning regimens, and the prevalence of small gatherings as opposed to large gatherings for the foreseeable future.
We are attaching a range of resources to inform your session in its discernment, including:
- Presbyterian Church (USA) Guidelines for Returning to Public Worship, which includes, among other resources, a link to
- Guidelines for Community and Faith-Based Organizations from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- COVID-19 Helpful Links for Reopening Houses of Worship from an Insurance perspective
We also encourage you to review the COVID-19 Information Resources page on the Presbytery of Philadelphia website (https://presbyphl.org/coronavirus/) for additional tools in your process of discerning and deciding. Through our commissions, leadership, and sharing of best-practices the Presbytery is committed to walk alongside you as you chart out and embark on the next steps of this journey of faithful witness.
May we be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we live out what it means to be good stewards of the congregations and communities entrusted to our care.
You can download the letter and resources as a PDF here to share with your congregation