Dear Members and Friends of FCCI,
We are delighted to inform you of FCCI’s plans to reopen! After the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control were released, and after the New York State Department of Health affirmed that our state would follow those guidelines, FCCI’s reopening task force met and approved a graduated reopening plan for the spring, summer, and early fall.
The CDC’s guidelines state that for vaccinated people no preventative measures are needed for indoor or outdoor activities, including “attend[ing] a full-capacity worship service” and “sing[ing] in an indoor chorus.” Risks remain for unvaccinated people, including children under 12, and immunocompromised adults, so all appropriate COVID precautions will be followed by FCCI’s staff and volunteers when they work with these groups.
The New York Conference of the UCC in conjunction with the Wisconsin Council of Churches urged churches to be cautious as they reopen. To be as judicious as possible and to meet the worship needs of as many people in our congregation as possible, our reopening plan has three phases:
Phase 1 (June 6 – July 25): Beginning Sunday June 6th, we will welcome in-person worshippers every Sunday morning. To allow ourselves some time to get used to singing together again in person, we will offer alternating weeks of singing and no singing (all instrumental). On even numbered Sundays (June 6, 20, July 4, 18) worshippers are invited to sing. On odd numbered Sundays (June 13, 27, July 11, 25) our music will be all instrumental with humming instead of singing. Those in attendance on Sundays will also be asked to sign up in advance, mask, and remain physically distanced.
Phase 2 (August 1 – September 26): Beginning Sunday August 1st, we will start relaxing restrictions around advance sign-ups and music. Worshippers will be welcomed to sing, distance themselves, and increase their interactions with each other.
Phase 3 (October 3rd “World Communion Sunday”): By World Communion Sunday, provided there are no policy changes either locally or nationally from health authorities, FCCI will be open. Masks will be optional (though encouraged for those who wish to continue wearing them), and a larger congregation will be welcomed in our spaces.
We are currently working on special programs for families with children under 12 since vaccines for this age group may not be available until early 2022. Accordingly, FCCI will not be “fully open” until all of our members and friends of any age can worship freely.
A few additional details. First, all of our singing worship leaders will be vaccinated. Second, we will continue offering opportunities to gather outside for picnics and hymn-sings now that the weather is warmer. Finally, June 6, July 4, August 1, and September 5 are all communion Sundays. Worshippers who attend on communion Sundays are invited to bring their own elements (something to nibble and something to sip – feel free to be creative!). On World Communion Sunday, we will begin providing elements for those who attend in person.
This stair-stepped plan provides each one of us time to readjust to in-person church life. We will continue live streaming our Sunday services and providing various online programs for everyone, and our members and friends are invited to move at their own pace – begin attending on Sundays when you feel ready whether you arrive by yourself, with a partner, or with a whole family in tote. We will warmly welcome you!
If you have questions or comments, please reach out to David, Pam, or Steve.
Rev. Dr. David A. Kaden, Senior Minister
Pamela Hanna, Church Council President
Steve TenEyck, Church Council Vice President