March 4, 2021
THE VACCINE: A REAL SHOT IN THE ARM
From recent reports, many of us have had at least one dose of the vaccine so quickly created to counter the coronavirus. More and more will soon receive their second dose. If you’re like me, these reports are lifting some of the weight you’ve been carrying. You’re beginning to anticipate a day when it’s safe to visit friends, public
spaces and perhaps come to church.
I’m grateful when I hear that the wheels are turning on vaccinations. It’s also encouraging to see declining infection rates. These positive events have boosted my morale more than I imagined. I can now see a time not so far away when I can make visits again without endangering myself or others. And the thought of spending time with others I haven’t seen in a long time brings joy. It’s a real shot in the arm. And yes, by good fortune, I’ve had my first dose.
Perhaps some of you are considering coming back to worship. You have been greatly missed. So, your return would be welcome, especially if you have received your vaccinations. We still uphold mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitizing whenever you return. Some among us are still vulnerable, and we do not want to put them in
jeopardy. We certainly only want people to come back when they are comfortable.
While we are allowing some small groups, we still must take precautions. So, group size and location are limited. All groups must reserve meeting space so that we can guarantee proper cleaning between meetings. The church office will assist you. The session will fine tune a phased in plan for reopening at its March meeting. The plan is a guide instead of a rule book, but it will help us move carefully toward an eventual full reopening. We’ll make that plan available to you on our website after it has been adopted.
While our hopes are rising, we also need to keep our feet on the ground. We aren’t sure what effect variants of the virus will have on our efforts to move toward normalcy. So, we can’t be in too great of a rush. Until we have more certainty about containing the virus, your session encourages you to be careful whenever you venture into church
or the community.
January 7, 2021
SMALL GROUP MEETINGS SUSPENDED
Staff continually review local conditions related to COVID-19 with the health and safety of church members in mind. As we all know, the number of cases has increased dramatically over the last several weeks. Likewise, the Board of Missions of the Presbytery of East Tennessee recently advised congregations to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent the spread of the disease and to think carefully and creatively about how and when to gather.
In light of our circumstances, we have decided to suspend small group meetings in the church building until further notice. Small groups sometimes meet in tighter spaces for extended periods of time. It’s the nature of these groups to be interactive, and this verbal interaction increases the chance of the virus entering the airspace. The combination of being in the same space for a longer time and a stronger possibility of the presence of the virus leads us to suspend small groups.
We regret making this decision. Many of us gain strength and comfort from our small group meetings. We will continue to monitor the situation with the hope of returning to small group gatherings when it seems safe to do so.
Worship will continue on its current schedule. We have structured indoor worship so that it requires less interaction and time than small groups. The number of people attending is also quite small within large spaces. However, we may suspend indoor worship, also, if circumstances change. We will keep you posted.
One group will still need to meet: the session. We have a Zoom option for elders who do not wish to come, but we have discovered that meeting mostly or solely as a session by Zoom does not work well for us. Since we have critical decisions to make in January, elders will hold the regular meeting on Monday, January 25 at 6:30 p.m. We will take every precaution.
As always, staff members are open to your questions and comments. We appreciate your prayers as we seek to guide the congregation through this pandemic.
Grace and peace,
October 15, 2020
GUIDELINES FOR REOPENING FOR WORSHIP
At its last meeting, the session voted to open the building for worship services. We will begin indoor worship on Sunday, October 25. Three services will be offered to meet the various needs of the congregation: 8:15 a.m. in the fellowship hall; 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot; 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.
1) Masks will be required for in-person worship. The church will have masks available for persons who might forget or who don’t have a mask;
2) Social distancing will be practiced by all of us at all times;
3) Because of limited seating capacity, reservations will be required for the indoor services. Call or email the church office by noon on Friday to make your reservation.
4) For the service in the fellowship hall, we encourage worshippers to park in the lot behind the church and to enter through the back doors. For the sanctuary service, worshippers may enter through the back doors or the front doors. Worshippers will remain in their vehicles for the parking lot service.
5) The elevator will be available for use for the service in the sanctuary only for those who cannot take the stairs. Only one person or household at a time may use the elevator. We ask riders to use the wipes made available to touch buttons.
6) Hand sanitizer will be available in multiple locations, and we encourage worshippers to use sanitizer upon entering and leaving;
7) In the fellowship hall, chairs will be safely spaced for us six feet apart. An order of service will be placed in each chair. In the sanctuary service, a limited number of pews will be used. Orders of service will be placed in those pews. Ushers will help to seat worshippers in the second service.
8) Please take the bulletin with you when exiting the service and dispose of it on your own;
9) We will not sing together because of the increased danger of exposure; however, others may sing for us and worshippers are free to hum along.
10) Offerings plates will be available as worshippers enter and exit their respective spaces;
11) Disinfecting wipes will be available in the bathrooms; please use them to clean all surfaces that you touch.
12) Because of narrow hallways and tight spaces, we ask worshippers not to cluster in the building before or after services.
While we will enjoy being together inside the building, worship will not be completely satisfying to us. Necessary precautions will take something from the experience. This will be disappointing to some or perhaps all of us. Just a few thoughts to help deal with that disappointment. First, these precautions are an expression of love for our neighbors and ourselves. By following these guidelines, we show we care about our well-being and the health of those around us, which is the second greatest commandment according to our Lord. Second, while worship will be less satisfying to us, it won’t be less satisfying to God as far as we know. These precautions give us the chance to remember that God is always the truest audience in worship. We may get less from these services, but we can trust God will not get less and in fact will take delight in our praise. Finally, these circumstances provide the opportunity for us to practice our kindness and patience. These Christian virtues aren’t very popular at the moment, and therefore are needed even more. Please bear with church leadership, and in this long season, be kind to one another.
Some of us aren’t ready to return to worship in the building. The session understands this and supports those who make this decision. Staff will continue to offer an online service. However, this service will be livestreamed as opposed to produced and edited. You may watch the sanctuary service live at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings or later in the week through the link on the church’s Facebook page.
Your suggestions have helped church leadership as we have planned and implemented worship in the parking lot. Elders and staff would appreciate your observations about worship in the building. Your thoughts might very well contribute to making indoor worship a better experience.
August 6, 2020
This obvious truth has been hard to accomplish since the outbreak of COVID-19. Churches have faced this challenge differently. But, the longer the crisis endures, the more important it seems to find a safe way to get together if at all possible.
We’re fortunate to have a parking lot that allows us to provide worship without anyone leaving a vehicle. Church staff have been considering how best to do this; and at its most recent meeting, the session approved those plans.
Here’s how it will work. A trailer will serve as a platform from which worship leaders will be easily seen. With the help of ushers, cars will park facing the platform. If needed, overflow can park in the General Morgan Inn lot beside the church’s lot or in the gravel lot toward Heritage Bank. We will broadcast the service through an FM transponder so you can hear it on your car radio. To ensure safety inside your car, we will provide carbon monoxide warning strips to place inside your vehicle, which are good for 90 days.
We will worship at two times: 8:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Each service will last approximately 30 minutes. If we have printed orders, they will be simple. They will also be printed at least three days before the service. These early times will allow us to avoid the heat as much as possible.
While we will continue to offer an online service, I hope you will consider worshipping with others in our own space. Why? Because congregations need to congregate. Seeing each other through glass won’t be completely satisfying, but it will help to sustain community. Something about worshipping together keeps the ties that bind.
I’m looking forward to trying this new, safe way to gather. I will so enjoy finally seeing you again. Please consider if this service is for you.
Grace and peace,
July 9, 2020
With great sadness, the session has suspended worship again due to the quick rise in COVID-19 patients in Greene County. This wasn’t an easy decision to make. Elders very much want to provide on-site services for those who are ready to attend. However, with chances of spreading the disease increasing, it seemed best to cancel until further
notice for the sake of our area’s most vulnerable citizens. The session meets again on Monday, July 27. At thattime, the elders certainly will revisit reopening. It’s so difficult to wait. But, we ask for the congregation’s support as we navigate these uncertain times.
June 25, 2020
The session has decided to reopen for worship!
We will have two services at our usual times, 8:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Both services will be in the fellowship hall for easy access and traffic flow.
Please enter through the parking lot doors and come into the fellowship hall through the first double doors on the left.
BECAUSE OF OUR CONTINUED CONCERN FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY, WORSHIP WILL BE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT
While we won’t sing, we will include other simple and safe ways for worshippers to participate in the service;
We will have a children’s sermon, but we will not have a nursery;
The service will last around 45 minutes;
We won’t have printed orders for a while to limit human contact;
We will have solos on occasion and other instrumental music;
Ushers will direct traffic flow, but will not seat people;
Worship leaders will wear face masks except at the time they are leading worship;
Chairs will be placed 6 ft. apart with groupings for couples and families.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS EACH OF US CAN DO TO PROMOTE SAFETY AND TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR
First and foremost, You can leave a message on the answering machine (638-4119), call Sharon Roberts directly (552-0824) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arrive roughly 10-15 minutes or less before the service begins;
Maintain a distance of 6 ft. while moving among and around others;
We’re encouraging everyone to wear a face mask. Bring one from home, but if you need one, we’ll have some available.
Clean surfaces you touch in the restrooms with the wipes provided.
Staff will make sure that the fellowship hall is cleaned before and after each worship service.
Also, please know that we support anyone who still feels the need to stay at home right now. We will miss you in worship, but we want you to care for yourself. We will continue to offer an online worship service for those who can’t make it.
Come, let us worship!
April 24, 2020
Dear friends in Christ,
Church leadership has made the decision not to reopen the church in the month of May. This decision is in concert with suggestions provided by the Board of Missions of our Presbytery, which is charged with overseeing the well-being of local congregations.
It would be grand if all of us could see each other soon and return to our life of worship, fellowship, study and service, but the risks seem too high right now.
Our congregation has a large number of folks who are especially vulnerable to the virus. We also know that the number of infections in Tennessee continues to rise. In conversations, church staff have heard just how concerned some of you remain about social contact.
For these reasons, we believe a more cautious approach now will keep us healthier and more prepared to return to our common life when the time comes.
We will continue to stay in touch through the various means we already employ.
The tie that binds our hearts in Christian love is still strong. And we will meet again when meeting is safer.
Peace to all,
March 25, 2020
Hello, friends. I miss seeing you very much.
Just want to share a few updates with you related to church life.
The interim council, which was elected by the session to make decisions until the session can meet regularly again, made a few decisions that I want to share with you.
All church services and activities on Wednesdays and Sundays have been cancelled until further notice due to concerns related to the corona virus.
All staff will be paid through the month of April. Most staff are still working, have shown their faithfulness and need our support financially
Full-time staff may work from home, if they so choose, or if developing situations demand it. You will find a staff person here most of the time should you call.
I’m grateful for the work of the council during this difficult time.
Peace to each one of you,
March 16, 2020
Dear members and friends of the Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
On Sunday, March 15, the session voted to cancel all activities on Sundays and Wednesdays at the church for the next two weeks (through March 29). Staff will continue to work during the week. Church leaders will reevaluate the need to remain closed by the end of March.
We trust our decision will promote the health and well-being not only of the congregation, but also of the wider community which we are called to love. The next church newsletter will come out a little later in the week to include more complete information regarding our response to the pandemic.
We'll also share more information in the days ahead via facebook, along with periodic devotions and an abbreviated Sunday worship service.
While Wednesday and Sunday activities are postponed, mobile meals will continue for those currently on the list who still wish to receive them.
If anyone needs us, we're here to help.
With deep love and concern for you and in the name of Christ our true hope,
Abby, Andy and Jamie