Update on Re-Opening: August 25, 2021

Aug 25, 2021 | Beacon, Members Only, News, Top News

We are writing today to share recent developments in regard to in-person participation in services, religious education, and all other activities designed to take place within our congregational buildings and on our grounds as we navigate the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At its August 24th monthly meeting, the Staff Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees discussed the continued surge of the Delta Variant, the results from both Reopening Surveys, conversations with members, information from a medical professional in our congregation, and the site CovidActNow.org. We discussed various activities and have made the following decisions:

Based on this information, the Board and SLT recommend we not open in September for In-person worship. We also note, medical experts do not expect the surge to reverse before October.  Expressed another way, it’s unknown how long this surge will last, but it almost certainly is going to get worse over the next month. Because of this, there will be no large in-person indoor events until further notice. This does NOT mean we are closing! We have so many great events happening, and more to come.

Worship & Large Gatherings

At this time, we will be postponing our in-person worship services. Virtual services will continue, even when in-person services begin. The East Shore staff and volunteers who will make the multi-platform services a reality will require approximately two weeks “lead time”. So, the good news is when we do get the “go” signal, we ought to be able to transition quite rapidly. This may also affect other large gatherings later in the fall, such as the in-person auction, and those decisions will be made based on the information above and changes in models as we near the events.

Small Groups

We have already begun booking rooms and outdoor spaces for small (under 20 people) events. Groups include Covenant Circles, book groups, and some teams. We are using rooms throughout the campus including Spring Hall, the North Room, and the North Room patio. These spaces allow us to have enough ventilation. Please note, masks are still required in all buildings regardless of vaccination status, so any food and beverages may only be consumed outside. If you would like to reserve a space, please fill out this form.

Religious Education

Our kids, especially those unable to be vaccinated are missing in-person RE! After reaching out to a sampling of parents, we will be offering in-person, outdoors RE for all ages, twice a month for the months of September and October. All teachers will be fully vaccinated, and everyone will be masked and socially distanced. Parents will be welcome to sit in on RE classes or have other opportunities during this time including family covenant circle, speakers, etc.

Outdoor Events

Based on the survey results, we see many of you would like to get back in person for small outdoor gatherings! We are excited to see these events happen and are looking for members to take the lead in planning some social gatherings to allow you to see our beloved community. Staff is available to help with logistics and more, and we hope the inspiration comes from YOU! Please keep an eye on these events and note that we may require registration to keep the numbers manageable. If you would like to plan one of these events with some staff assistance, please contact Nicole.

Rentals

We know 15% of our income comes from rentals, with many of whom we have a long-standing relationship. We will begin welcoming renters into the space following state guidelines as well keeping groups to less than 20 people. Please note, a regular Wednesday night renter is the Polish school which may include children ineligible for vaccines. If you prefer to not be in the RE building during this time, please inform Dianne when making room reservations.

Staff & Office Hours

While the staff is all vaccinated, we also want to make sure we are keeping our staff safe and healthy. We are keenly aware when the building reopens, members and friends can choose their comfort level of certain activities and participate accordingly. The staff is being asked to assist in running events and classes and would not have the same choice. On behalf of the entire staff, thank you for your support these past 18 months and your continued care.

The staff will begin returning to the office more regularly! We will be slowly returning all to our full hours. We will have facilities staff onsite daily and we will have office hours with a staffed front desk every Thursday and Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Other staff may also be available during these times and are available by appointment for in-person meetings. Please reach out directly to a specific staff member for their availability.

In Summary

  • Staff will begin returning to campus for more access to the buildings
  • Small groups (<20) OK inside if masked, fill out the form here.
  • No eating or drinking inside until further notice (which limits some types of gatherings)
  • Larger groups outside also OK, works as long as weather permits
  • So…. this means sorry! no in-person worship on Sundays until further notice

Looking Forward

We will continue to provide updates as needed, and greatly appreciate your patience and support as we continue to navigate the impact of Covid-19 challenges. We will continue to talk to medical professionals and will likely send more surveys to obtain member input.

We thank you for your steadfast support, responses and understanding while these quick decisions need to be made.

Sincerely,

Steve Furrer, Rebecca Chatfield, Nicole Duff, with the full support of the Board of Trustees