Today, on Monday, May 4th, Governor Hutchinson made an announcement that places of worship may begin to resume a modified version of their in-person services beginning Sunday, May 10th. Naturally, this has raised the question in many of your minds about our plan to resume in-person services at First Presbyterian Church. As you are aware, the Session has formed a Coronavirus Commission to study and monitor the ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19. At our meeting this past Wednesday, the Coronavirus Commission set Sunday, June 7th as our target date for resuming in-person services at First Presbyterian Church. This is obviously one month later than the date our state government has identified as the time when churches are allowed to resume in-person services, but there are several reasons why we have scheduled our in-person services to resume on June 7th.
The first is that it is unknown whether or not “opening up” Arkansas will result in a surge of new cases. There is the possibility that Arkansas will need to return to more strict social distancing guidelines should such a surge occur. Given this lack of assurance and the fact that the incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days (the time when someone has contracted the coronavirus and is contagious but doesn’t yet have any symptoms), we have decided that it is wise to wait at least a full three weeks to watch if a surge of new cases will occur once our state is “opened up” again.
The second reason for our June 7th target date is our desire to ensure that all of the Federal criteria for the first phase of reopening the country have been met by our State and County before we resume in-person services. Those Federal criteria can be found at the official website of the White House. The Coronavirus Commission is tracking Arkansas’ performance against those stated thresholds as they are reported at the State and County levels, and during the month of May you can expect regular communication from us to keep you informed about how we are doing. Since the situation is fluid, we are ready to resume our services later than June 7th if circumstances dictate a further delay.
When we do begin to meet in-person again, our time together will look and feel a bit different, but we will let you know what to expect as we draw closer to that date. I, for one, am so excited to see your faces again, to worship with you in the same space, and to hear your voices singing praise to our Triune God. He remains good and he remains powerful and I pray that you would remain in him.
If you have any questions, you can reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the office at email@example.com, or you may reach out to any of the elders currently serving on Session. We would be happy to discuss this plan with you.
May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord, be with you. Jonathan +