Grace and Peace to you! Our Session met last night (August 11, 2021) to review the recommendations of our Health Team. The session unanimously approved the following guidelines and they will go into effect immediately.
Masks are required for Worship and all church activities for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
All are to practice proper social distancing as we respect one another’s personal space.
Children will remain in their pews with their family units during the Children’s Moment.
All are to practice proper handwashing.
Children's Sunday School will continue as usual. Youth Sunday school will now meet in the downstairs wing of the education building in their new space. Adult Sunday School will now meet in the Fellowship Hall. Refreshments may be provided for youth and adults.
The choir will be temporarily suspended for this time. We will continue to participate in congregational singing since we will all be wearing masks.
We are postponing all planned large church gatherings with food at this time. Meetings and small groups may continue as normal with the wearing of masks and social distancing.
A representative from the Health Team attended a conference call on Monday, August 9, offered for faith communities by Piedmont Newton Hospital. The community message from our local hospital is as follows:
There has been a dramatic uptick in cases since July 4th but particularly in the last two weeks.
Do not congregate, the Delta Variant is 3-4 times more contagious.
Cases are skewing toward the younger population.
We mask to protect others. You can be unaware you are spreading the virus.
Almost 100% of cases currently in Piedmont Newton are unvaccinated people.
The vaccine is to prevent moderate/severe COVID with serious complications and even death.
Church, I know we are tired and frustrated. I know we long to live in a space post-COVID. I am grieving because many upcoming activities for our children and congregation need to be postponed until our community has a better handle on this virus. I also know loving one another well is what we are called to do at this moment. Jesus calls us to care for those who are sick and vulnerable. Jesus calls us to love and care for our children. Therefore, these measures are in response to our need to love and protect one another.
We are grateful for the good care and intentionality of our Health Team and Session.
Grateful to serve,
Rev. Neeley Rentz Lane, Pastor John McCarthy, Clerk of Session
May 28, 2021 Dear FPC Covington Church family,
The following COVID-19 update was approved by our session on May 27, 2021.
In accordance with the latest CDC guidelines Session approved the following Health team recommendations:
Remove restrictions on the number of parishioners allowed in the church sanctuary.
Open seating on all rows/pews, though still recommending social distancing.
Facemasks are optional, though highly encouraged for those who have not been vaccinated to continue wearing their masks indoors.
Congregational singing is now allowed without masks, though we ask you to be considerate of your fellow parishioners.
Any church members directly interacting with children under 12 to continue to wear masks (ex. Nursery, Sunday School, Word with the Children).
Encourage all worship participants to sign the Friendship register in their pew as a means to track attendance.
We will continue to participate in the Passing of the Peace, Offering, and Communion in a socially distanced format.
We are called to be the Body of Christ and care for one another. Please be mindful of your brothers and sisters in Christ as we worship together.
Grateful to serve,
Rev. Neeley Rentz Lane John McCarthy (Clerk of Session)
May 12, 2021 Temperature checks are no longer required, Bibles will be added back to the pews, masks are recommended but not required outdoors, masks are required indoors unless eating or drinking.
April 28, 2021
RSVPs are no longer necessary for worship! We can seat 85 participants in worship with social distance in place. Masks are required.
March 10, 2021
We are welcoming you back to worship in person this Sunday, March 14! If you plan to attend in person, please RSVP here. Virtual options (zoom and facebook) are still available.
March 6, 2021
Reverend Neeley Rentz Lane's youngest daughter, MaryRentz, has been exposed to COVID-19. They are in quarantine as of Friday at 2:30pm. Therefore, worship will now be virtual for this Sunday, March 7th.
Worship will be on Zoom at 11:00am on Sunday from the Sanctuary and the Lane Home. We will not have in-person worship this Sunday.
A recording of the Zoom worship service will be posted on our Facebook page at 1:00pm on Sunday.
Sunday School classes will be able to meet in-person this Sunday with a hybrid format as planned. Nursery will be provided during Sunday school.
All Sunday resources for Worship and Sunday School will be emailed out Sunday morning at 9am per usual.
Thank you for your understanding!
February 25, 2021
On February 22, the Session approved the return to in-person worship on March 7. All COVID protocols will be in place. Worship will be offered via live-stream on Facebook, Zoom, and in-person.
RSVP Required for Worship: You may RSVP by clicking HERE or by contacting the church office by NOON on THURSDAY of each week. Please only register for one Sunday at a time. You DO NOT have to print tickets.
Beginning March 7, all church-sponsored groups (Sunday school, PW, Session teams, etc.) are allowed to use the church building. We do ask all groups to discern HYBRID models of gathering to allow for in-person and virtual participation. In order to safely open our doors we will ask all in-person gatherings to follow strict COVID-19 Protocol to ensure minimal risk of exposure. Therefore, if your group would like to meet at the church you are asked to submit a Building Usage Form to reserve your space.
December 17, 2020
A Letter from Session Dear Church Family,
Session met (December 16, 2020) to discern actions concerning a Covid-19 exposure within our congregation at last Sunday’s worship service (Sunday, December 13, 2020). All attendees of the service have been notified of the exposure.
As a result of this news and the potential continued safety of the congregation and staff, session members voted to suspend in-person worship and in-person meetings indefinitely with the Health Team to meet diligently in assessing when it may be appropriate to recommend to the session a return to in-person.
Motion to suspend all in-person services, meetings and other activities until such time as the Health Team sub-committee can determine an appropriate return date to recommend to session was approved.
Peace & Prayers, John McCarthy Clerk of Session Covington First Presbyterian Church
A Letter from the Pastor Church family,
This is hard. I am very thankful for the hard and holy work of our Health Team and Session. I name the heartache, the grief, the frustration we all feel. I hold space for the emotions of loss: the emotional, spiritual, and physical toll this pandemic has had on each and everyone of us. I so desperately wish by now I would have been able to visit with you in your homes and get to know you and your families more intimately. I wish you all were able to come to our home and know our three girls as you are their church family. I promise I am with you in the pain we all feel.
This is hard.
And yet I still have hope. I have advent hope! I live in hope for a new day. I trust in the good news that Christ still, even in these weary days of darkest nights, breaks into our lives. I live in anticipation of the grand and glorious day we get to be church in person again. Until then, we shall still be the church! The church is still very much active, alive, and present among us. We are called now more than ever to be church for and with one another. We are called now more than ever to be an Advent people of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Therefore, I encourage us to call each other, FaceTime family and friends, show up on zoom calls, be partners in prayer, spend time in the comfort and promise of scripture, and to participate in worship on the Sabbath. We are to trust God dwells with us in this very moment and the days ahead.
Yes church, this is hard and we can do hard things together. Please hold our church staff, tech team, pastoral care team, health team, session, and congregation in your prayers. Pray without ceasing and may we be those who dream of a new day! Christmas is coming!
Grateful to serve, Neeley
October 11, 2020
The FPC Session approved a plan to gradually phase back into worship. Beginning on Sunday, October 25 you are invited to join us for in-person worship at 8:45am or 11:00am.
Each service is limited to 50 participants, including staff, therefore RSVPs will continue to be required. You must RSVP each week by contacting Peni in the church office (770-786-7321). RSVPs are due by 4:00pm the Friday before the service. If a service is full, you will be invited to attend the other service or placed on a wait list.
If you plan to attend, masks are required, your temperature will be checked upon arrival, and social distancing will be practiced.
Please note that we will continue to livestream the 11:00am service on Facebook and will continue to provide recordings of worship on our website.
Music: "Inspire" - Bensound.com
August 30, 2020
On Sunday, August 30, our FPC Session voted to move gradually into Phase 2 of our Moving Forward: Phases of Re-Opening. Please note the updated graphic to the left. The Health Team will reassess on Tuesday, September 29, for worship moving forward.
July 31 2020
To the Congregation of First Presbyterian Church – Covington,
We are saddened to inform you we will not be opening our Early Learning Center this fall. Our Session met for a called meeting on July 29, 2020 and decided we are not able to open with our current COVID-19 realities. The following motion was approved: "To suspend the ELC until such time that there is a viable model to go forth with the program.“
The Health Team, Session, and our Early Learning Center Board have worked with love and care for our preschool during this season of uncertainty. This decision was made with much prayer and intentional dialogue in our care for the ELC families, the ELC staff, and our church. While this is perhaps a surprising and painful conclusion, the decision was also made with a sense of faith and hope – that God will provide a vision for the future of the facility and our resources. Church family, thank you for the many ways you have given your time, energy, and love to the First Presbyterian Church Early Learning Center. The ELC has been part of our community for more than fifteen years; in that time hundreds of lives have been positively touched and transformed. Nothing can diminish the impact we have had one our students, families and teachers.
We read in Ecclesiastes, “For everything there is as season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” We are grateful for the years of faithful ministry through our Early Learning Center. We express our deepest gratitude to our ELC Director, Darlene Alley, for her good and faithful work. It has been a joy to serve in ministry with Darlene! We plan to say thank you to Darlene and celebrate the ministry of the ELC at a future date. Between now and then, if you have memories of the ELC, including any pictures, please send them to Kimmy.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Neeley or Judy.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Neeley Rentz Lane Rev. Kimmy Briggs Judy Hooten (Chair of the ELC Board)
June 10, 2020
First Presbyterian Church Family,
Covington First Presbyterian Church Session met today to evaluate guidelines for re-opening the church for Sunday services. We were provided a template developed by our Health Advisory Team with information adopted by the Greater Atlanta Presbytery and CDC guidelines. Through a great deal of discussion Session voted to adopt the guidelines. We are currently in Phase 1 with the closing of the entire church and limited to streaming services only. The Health Advisory team will monitor results of the CDC and State looking for a running 14 day cycle where cases have declined within the state. When that is determined Session will meet, consider the facts and vote to move to Phase 2. Phase 2 will re-open the church to Sunday services only. Service will be limited to no more than 50 people at one time in the congregation; it will require social distancing, the use of masks, no congregational liturgy, singing or choir. Since our regular summer attendance at church runs around 100 people each week we will offer two services. One at 8 or 8:45 am (still TBD) and one at 11:00 am. The 11:00am will continue to be live streamed. Church members will need to RSVP their choice for which service to attend. We as a Session are passionate about the health and well-being of our church family. These are tough guidelines to follow but our utmost desire is to protect all of our church family while providing a meaningful worship experience.
The Session of First Presbyterian Church John McCarthy and Rev. Neeley Rentz Lane
May 20, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I thank you for your patience and grace during this current season of pandemic living. If I have been reminded of anything in these past few months, it is that God is in control. We cannot rely on our own understandings of time, space, and normalcy. We cannot rely on technology. We cannot rely on our plans. Thanks be to God, God is sovereign! Prior to COVID-19 entering our every-day vocabulary and taking over our emotions, I thought I trusted in God’s providence. Now, I dare say, my trust in God has strengthened in this time of unknown, fear, frustration, isolation, and deep grief.
I share this with you today because I trust in God’s timing, God’s revealing self through the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us, the church, in our next steps of being physically together again in our church building.
We have already entered into a process of re-imaging and reopening our church building.
We have moved from pre-recorded worship in our homes to Live Streamed services in our Sanctuary. These services can be found on our public Facebook page and will uploaded to our website as soon as possible following worship.
A Health Team is in place faithfully and intentionally imagining and implementing Re-Entry Steps. The purpose of this body is to look at all moving parts of reopening the church building: worship, small groups, Christian Education, committee meetings, office staff, outside groups, etc. This team is composed of doctors, nurses, small business owners, and church members with various perspectives. A document is currently being prepared to share with you on our phases of reentry.
All necessary supplies are ordered and necessary cleaning arrangements are underway to make the way clear for all imperative adjustments we are advised to have in place.
A Tech Team is in place working to enhance our technological capabilities. Improving our internet strength and reliability and installing cameras will make Live Stream services available even after we return to allow church members to continue to worship from home until they are comfortable worshipping in person.
Our First Presbyterian Church Session will meet virtually on June 9th, at 5:30, to discuss our return to in-person worship.
Please join the Health Team, Tech Team, and Session in prayer, as we all desire to be together again. In full transparency and preparing our hearts, I want to share with you a few changes that we already know will look different when we do gather for in person worship:
Social Distancing: Households will be asked to sit together. All will be asked to practice social distancing. Markings on the floor will be provided to help guide us. We will ask worshippers to wear masks as a way of saying, “I love you.” Signage will be provided to allow us to be together in a safe and welcoming way.
Worship: Initially we will not be able to participate in congregational singing/choir. Passing of the Peace, Offering, Communion, Time with Children and other worship elements will all be celebrated with safety/social distancing guidelines. We want to make you aware parts of worship will feel different.
Nursery: The church nursery will phase back in and will not be able to be in use for the safety of nursery staff and children. Children are invited to wiggle and giggle in the pews with their family.
Church, we can do hard things! We will gather in person again! If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. The Health Team, Tech Team, and Session are appreciative of YOUR VOICE as we live in hope and trust in the Holy Spirit dancing with us. Pentecost is coming!
Grateful to serve,
Rev. Neeley Rentz Lane
April 29, 2020
Dear Church Family,
Peace be with you!
We read in the gospel of Matthew a question: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’” Jesus said to them “You shall love your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
It is in this very spirit, the session of First Presbyterian Church and Church staff faithfully discerned our worship experiences moving forward. We will be moving to a live stream service opportunity starting May 10th.
We will maintain CDC guidelines of social distancing and having no more than 10 people in the worship space. These 10 people consist of worship leadership and technological support. We will “go live” on Facebook on Sundays at 11am through the month of May. If you need assistance with navigating technology in order to actively participate please let the church know so we can walk alongside you.
We recognize the grief, technological limitations, and the overall longing for us to be back together again in our church building worshipping in the sanctuary. We will continue to be in prayerful dialogue for when we feel we can safely gather again in person.
The church office remains closed at this time. Rest assured the church staff and elders are pressing onward in our call to be church in this new day.
We invite you to join us in prayer for our church family, community, and world.
We are indeed a church scattered but by the presence of the Holy Spirit we gather day in and day out through connectional ministry in a phone call, zoom check in, a letter in the mail, and by showing up in creative new ways! May we all embody God’s love as we love one another, care for one another, and be church together!
Grateful to serve,
April 9, 2020
The church office will remain closed for the duration of the statewide shelter in place. We will continue to offer worship and Christian Education content as we explore being church together.
The Session will gather again on April 28 at 5:30pm to decide next steps and we will communicate those to you.
And please know that our staff and Session are praying for each and everyone of you.
March 18, 2020 11:00am
I write this to you all recognizing the grief that comes with it, and yet at the same time, the reassurance we are called to love one another through these trying times. The session of FPC voted tonight, via video conference, to only gather online for the next two Sundays: March 22 and March 29. We will reassess on March 26 as we enter April. This will assure that we continue to provide an intentional worship experience for you all through our Facebook Live and Instagram Live platforms. The worship service may look a little different as we seek to be faithful to reformed worship while recognizing the complexity of live stream services.
Worship Resources and Christian Education Resources can be found on our Church’s website home page. We invite you to join us in various ways through engaging the resources provided and our interactions on social media. The church office will remain closed. Please do not hesitate to reach out for pastoral care needs. You will see below opportunities to connect, serve, and grow all while practicing social distancing.
For this Sunday our lectionary text includes Psalm 23. This psalm is a reminder of God’s presence with us. God is with us. God is Sovereign. God is enough.
May we take time to reflect on how we just might lean in to the shelter and comfort of our Shepherd this day and every day. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” Psalm 23:6
The Peace of Christ be with you,
March 13, 2020 9:45pm
Dear FPC Covington Church family,
Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Our church session met this evening to prayerfully consider how we respond with compassion, grace, love, and care for our church family and Covington Community/Newton County.
After hard and faithful discussion, Session made the decision to withhold from gathering in person as a congregation this Sunday. We recognize the tension held between new momentum and exciting times in the ministry of the church and an abundance of caution for our community. The pastoral, music, and administrative staff will answer our call as faithful servant leaders as we provide alternative worship opportunities and Christian Education experiences for our church family.
Our hope is to answer God’s call as a people created to care for one another. We acknowledge we have a population of church members and visitors within the high-risk category for COVID-19; therefore, we trust that practicing social distancing is best at this time based on the recommendations of medical professionals and our denomination. We recognize this practice is counter cultural to our call as a people of faith to live in community; therefore, we will serve faithfully and fervently to foster a nurturing community in the following ways:
Worship this Sunday, March 15, will be available Live Stream through our Facebook Page. We will provide the worship bulletin, children’s worship bulletin, and additional worship material on our website, which will also include a link to our Facebook page.
We will honor the protocols set forth by hospitals, residential communities, and assisted living facilities. Neeley is available for pastoral phone calls, Facetime Chats, and in person pastoral care at the church/ on site on an as-need basis.
We want to remind our church family members living in residential retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and or home bound members that you are loved and valued members of our church. You can reach Neeley at any time via email or by calling her cell phone (843.307.7021).
Self-care: Please take care of YOU. Please be mindful of hand washing and social interaction. We encourage us all to be intentional in our need to be connected. You are invited to reach out to one (or many more) church members/visitors each day as we seek to be the Body of Christ to one another. A phone call is a gift we can give during this time.
Sunday school for all ages will be suspended at this time. Church gatherings that currently occur in homes are up to the discretion of the host.
Kimmy and Neeley are happy to equip small group gatherings for virtual meetings. Contact us for more information.
Recognizing the fluidity of the situation we will use our best discernment to facilitate small in person gatherings (example: youth coffee dates).
The church office is closed to the general public. The church staff will be working from the church offices and/or at home. Please know all staff can be reach via emails and cell phones. Please call ahead if you hope to see a staff member in person and or have church business to attend to.
First Presbyterian Early Learning Center
Our church preschool is closed. We follow the Newton County School System.
Session will reconvene on Wednesday, March 18, at 5:30 to consider our course of action for Sunday, March 22.
Grateful to serve,
Neeley Kimmy John
Reverend Neeley Lane Reverend Kimmy Briggs John McCarthy Senior Pastor Director of Family Ministries Clerk of Session
March 13, 2020 11:00am
Church, Just a few days ago on Sunday, we said yes to walking along this wilderness road together. Today we find ourselves in an unfamiliar wilderness as we are called to faithfully respond to the COVID-19 pandemic across our world. This evening our session will gather with discerning hearts as we respond with love, compassion, and care for our church family and community. We will be able to provide detailed information later tonight or first thing in the morning.