In-Person Service News

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Dear First Church Family,

I have some good news to share with you. As you know, the church leadership and staff have been in constant conversation about when it is safe to allow people to attend worship in-person. Thanks to an increase in vaccinations and drop in the community spread of coronavirus, we have set a goal to begin Phase 1 of our return process on Sunday, May 2. This decision comes with great relief and excitement, even as our plans require several limitations.

We will follow a series of phases to increase our attendance capacity and other church activities. The progress of each phase will be determined by the Board of Stewards. Please note that starting Phase 1 on May 2 is a goal. As we continue to monitor community spread over the next several weeks, we may have to adjust that date accordingly. The phases are defined as such:

PHASE 1

Starting May 2, we will hold one service at 11:00 in the Sanctuary with a limit of 50 people. This service will be live streamed. A pre-recorded service will be broadcast at 9:00.

PHASE 2

Two in-person services will be held:

·     9:00 in the Cokesbury Center with a limit of 20 people.

·     11:00 in Sanctuary with a limit of 50 people. This service will be livestreamed.

·     A modified pre-recorded service will be broadcast on Sunday mornings well.

PHASE 3

We will increase the attendance capacity of both services.

·     9:00 in the Cokesbury Center with a limit of 30 people.

·     11:00 in Sanctuary with a limit of 75 people. Both services will be livestreamed.

·     A modified pre-recorded service will be broadcast on Sunday mornings well.

PHASE 4

We will increase capacity in both spaces along with a possible addition of Sunday school/small group meetings.

PHASE 5

We will incorporate childcare during services as well as in-person youth and children’s activities.

All phases will follow the following protocols:

·     Services will be 45-50 minutes.

·     Reservations must be made in advance. This can be done online (fumclr.org/reservations/) or by phone.

·     Attendees will sit sections spaced 6 feet apart. Only family pods will be allowed to share a section.

·     Masks must be worn at all times by all people.

·     Participants will be asked not to sing even if masked.

·     Distances must be maintained (no handshakes, hugging, crowding, etc).

·     Attendees will sign in and have their temperature taken before entering the meeting space.

·     Attendees will be ushered to their seats, filling the worship space from the front to back.

·     Attendees will be ushered out from the back to front.

·     Communion will only be served via Drive Thru.

·     These protocols will be in place for funerals and other special services. Capacity for those services will be determined by whatever phase we are in at the time.

In order to facilitate this plan, we will need a small handful of volunteers each Sunday. We prefer to utilize people who have been fully inoculated. If you are willing to serve as a volunteer for tasks such as signing people in or directing to and from seats, please follow this link. https://fumclr.org/volunteer/

Obviously with such limited capacity not everyone can be accommodated every Sunday. Therefore, we are asking you to help in several ways. First of all, please be patient. Second, please don’t try to attend every Sunday. If you come one week, perhaps you worship from home for a couple of weeks after that. Third, please know that you will not be able to sit in your usual spot and you may even have to worship at a service time other than your usual preference.

If you make a reservation to attend worship, you are agreeing to follow all of the protocols stated. As wonderful as it will be to see one another, we must still practice the strictest safety measures. This means you won’t be able to shake hands or hug one another. You must maintain at least 6 feet of distance and keep your mask on properly at all times. Even if you have been fully vaccinated, there are still risks and not everyone shares the same comfort level. I offer this respectfully and lovingly, but if those who attend cannot adhere to these procedures, we will be forced to back off of these plans.

If you are not ready to attend in-person, we certainly understand. As stated, we will continue to offer online worship services. We’ve been excited to have many people living outside of Little Rock regularly worshipping with us and these online worship experiences allow us to stay connected to them.

As we make preparations, we will share more detailed plans with you. To assist in planning, we need more information from you. Please follow this link to fill out a brief survey. https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sv/oamVXEj/fumclrsurvey032021

Again, this is exciting news, and the church leadership is making preparations with hopeful hearts. We give thanks to God for leading us through this year and for the opportunity to discover new things about our church and ourselves. I look forward to writing this next chapter of our church’s story with you.

Gracefully,

David

Lesley Andrews

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