COVID Procedures Update
Dear RPC Community,
Adjustment to our COVID Safety Procedures at RPC. On the positive side, there are better treatment options now than earlier in the pandemic, Evanston has a wonderfully high vaccination rate, and our local hospitals are currently able to handle the number of serious COVID cases. On the negative side, COVID case counts are again rising, and we still have vulnerable folks among us whether due to age or complicating health conditions. Evanston's Health and Human Services Department still recommends wearing masks when in group settings despite the lifting of the state and city mask mandates. Our own Reba community survey did not show a clear-cut collective preference to go mask-optional, and there was a significant concern for those who are most at-risk. Therefore, after consultation with our Safety Team, we will implement the following adjustments to our current safety protocol, starting with Sunday worship on April 24th:
Sidewalk Coffee will remain on the Sidewalk! Hooray, it's getting warmer.
For worship, we'll continue to wear masks for those aged 2 years old and up for the first part of the service, when our preschool kids are with us, and when we're doing most of our singing, which projects particles a lot further from person to person than merely talking.
After the preschool children are dismissed to childcare, those who remain in the main sanctuary may opt to remove their masks. The preschool kids and their caregivers will remain masked.
When we celebrate Communion, we'll remain masked, because we're singing and standing in close proximity. We'll continue asking folks to receive their elements and then return to their seats to consume them.
For the post-sermon song, those who wish to sing should remask. Those who want to just receive the song as a gift for their listening and reflection need not re-mask. The Praise Team will continue to wear masks while they sing.
We will continue to encourage distanced seating, though we also expect that individuals, households and families that regularly "pod" together may opt to sit without distance between them in worship.
For the first Sunday in May we will try a group picnic rather than a potluck. People will be invited to bring their own food and eat it together either outside if weather permits, or in the Meetinghouse. More details will be forthcoming. Those who are not comfortable eating in this large of a group can always opt out because it will be after the worship service ends.
Small groups using the church facilities may decide themselves whether or not they want to mask for their meetings. They should continue to follow any applicable state and local guidelines that come out.
Thanks for having a loving and responsible attitude in caring for our community in how we manage our lives in this new normal of pandemic management. We will continue to watch the relevant metrics and hope that we'll be able to go completely mask optional at some point! We hope to not have to go the other direction, but will if it seems warranted. We're so glad that we can safely and responsibly meet together!
Together in Christ,
RPC Leadership Team
Pastor Charlotte Lehman, Carol Youngquist, Debbie Cook, Rob Larson, Stephen Wilke