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
Wednesday, May 20
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
Wednesday, April 29
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,
Thursday, April 9
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.
Thursday, March 18 at 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,
Friday, March 13 at 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
Friday, March 13 at 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.