COVID-19 Update

A Message from Church Council & the COVID-19 Advisory Team

Dear First Congregational Church Members and Friends:
We, together, are amazing. We are worshipping together, we are finding ways to connect despite every challenge, we are engaged in social justice in our community and in the world, we are feeding God’s children and their children, we are learning and growing our extravagant welcome – all these things, AND COVID variants, numbers, and cases are skyrocketing in our community, country and world.
Monday night, your church Council considered the daunting numbers, thought about the vulnerability of our staff and membership, and made the weighty decision to return to online worship only – until conditions are safer in our community.
There were tears. There were amazing testimonials from amazing members of our faith community for the power of and need for in person worship and gathering. And in the end the overwhelming consensus and vote was that now is not the time to risk what would be so difficult for any of us to live with – exposing a friend or fellow church member, their non-vaccinated children, vulnerable seniors, or anyone else to this virus.
It was a weighty decision, but, collectively we decided it was the right decision for the moment. 
There is no denying the palpable grief in that decision: the 17+ months of fear, stress, exhaustion, disconnection, and for some, too many, the tragedy of the illness itself.
AND: we will gather in, in a new way. We will worship, in a new way. We will connect, in a new way. We will serve the world in any way we can. We already are. We will be extravagantly welcoming, even if it cannot be, for the moment, across a pew. 
We will do this by understanding the power, beauty and grace of this church and its growing faith community. We will do this by listening to the whisper of the Spirit and God’s calling. We will do this because we are in this together, and we know together we can uncover beauty, deep meaning and connection – despite the twists and turns of a pandemic and everything else the world may throw at us. God is still whispering, still giving, still guiding, still planting.

And by listening to the Spirit, by God’s grace, we will grow where we are planted.

Your Leadership Team on behalf of Church Council

COVID Advisory Committee update August 24, 2021

On Monday night, our Church Council made the difficult decision to pause in-person worship until the surge in COVID-19 delta variant infections subsides. On Tuesday, the COVID Advisory Committee met to review other church activities in light of current Whatcom County health information. Here are our recommendations:

  • That a worship team (including pastors, liturgist, musicians, people leading Time with Children, and tech team) may work together in person in the sanctuary to lead worship services.  All participants must be vaccinated, in keeping with a Council decision that volunteers working with church staff must be fully vaccinated.  
  • That individual (or family / household) use of the chapel, labyrinth, and sanctuary may continue to be scheduled through the church office.
  • That it is safest for any FCCB groups meeting in person to gather outdoors instead of indoors, with masks and physical distancing.
  • That FCCB groups of more than 5 people meeting in person must meet outdoors (with masks and physical distancing).
  • That we wait to offer activities where children from different households would interact with each other in person, because of increasing rates of COVID infection and serious illness among  children, lack of vaccines for children, and challenges for children in following safety guidelines like distancing and wearing masks.   And because risks for many children will already be increasing soon with the return to in-person school. 

Every recommendation to limit activities came with grief, and we spent much of our time trying to figure out how we might say “yes” to some of the things we know are important to congregation members and to our life together. The COVID Committee is now meeting every two weeks and will continue to update recommendations as information changes. We continue to urge everyone who can to be vaccinated.