Sunday, May 31, 2020: Update on in-person worship from Pastor Tom.

May 19, 2020

Dear Church Family,

I want to bring you up-to-date on FPC's continued response to COVID-19, the changing statewide and local mandates/guidelines, and the issue of safety and health for those in our church family and community.  As you know, we have moved from 'shelter-in-place' to 'safer-at-home' status.  With this designation, some parameters for churches and businesses eased slightly.  In addition, Mesa County received a variance that gave us a few more options, and I'm told more are coming.  So what does that mean for our church?  What about staff and office hours, small group gatherings, and worship services?  These are all good questions and deserve a response.  First and   foremost, this letter will address big picture issues so that you understand the framework for our more detailed decisions – now and in the future.  Practical decisions may be adjusted as updates and information pertinent to our situation change.  Nevertheless, our big picture framework will remain and guide us forward.
First, the big picture.  We are committed to: 1) the health and safety of our most vulnerable participants, as well as sustainable operations – from a staffing and volunteer perspective;  2) working within mandates from government (state and county), and paying attention to health experts (humbly acknowledging we are not the experts); 3) recognizing permissible doesn't always equate with "best;" 4) taking into account our unique congregation and staff – not only our age demographics but how a majority of our congregation and staff feel about health and safety; 5) remaining accessible, available and attentive as a staff; 6) acknowledging the reality that this will be a long journey, and that focusing on God's sovereignty will be much more helpful than thinking any one solution will solve our problems.
Given the above big picture, here are some practical decisions:
1) At this time, we are not setting a date to begin in-person worship services.  When we do resume some form of public worship, we will continue to make online services our priority – as our safest and best way to connect with the highest number of people.
2) To protect the health and safety of our staff members, we will continue to work from home as much as possible and not open up our offices.  If you are not able to connect with a staff person for any reason, please let the front office know by leaving an email or phone message.  We are fully connected to emails and calls at home.  Our desire is that all emails and phone calls/messages will be returned promptly.
3) We will not be opening up the building to inside or outside groups until we can do so in a safe and sustainable way.
I know this whole situation has been challenging to all of us and is difficult to hear.  Please know we are missing the connection and joy of being together as well.  It can also be helpful to get clarification for the near future so that we can reset expectations and hopes – and more clearly express our disappointments.  Nobody ever saw this coming.  Actually, God is not surprised.  And He's always to be trusted.  Let's trust Him together and pray for all those on the front lines of this fight – as well as those who have suffered and are suffering from this pandemic.
Thank you for being such a wonderful church family.  Let's keep being "Rooted in Jesus, Growing in His Love, [and] Branching Out to Serve Others."
Faithfully yours,   
Tom Hansen
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