Faith & Fellowship Sunday School Class
(In-Person and Remote Options)
August 2, 2021
This is not the letter I had hoped to write. While the summer began with much optimism about the possibility of putting this pandemic season behind us, we are not there yet.
The COVID-19 virus has changed, and this new Delta variant compels us to once again adjust our life together. As you may be aware, on July 27 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its recommendations on mask wearing: now all persons, vaccinated and unvaccinated, should wear masks while in public settings, particularly in areas with high community spread.
In response to this guidance and with recommendation of FPC’s COVID Response Task Force, our Session has approved a revision to FPC’s policy: masks need to be worn by all persons over the age of 5, vaccinated or unvaccinated, while inside FPC buildings for events and gatherings, including worship, to help prevent local spread of COVID-19.
FPC Staff will continue to wear a mask when requested by any member or guest when meeting for pastoral care indoors. The above recommendation does not include a proposed change to mask wearing for Preschool staff at this time; the Task Force will be in conversation with the Preschool Director and the Preschool Advisory Board about any changes to childcare mask wearing guidelines.
In the midst of these days, we remain a people of hope. God has brought us through difficult times before, and calls us to be compassionate, creative, loving disciples of Christ. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer,” the Apostle Paul encourages us (Rom. 12:12). Christ is with us, so we can be people of hope, help, and healing in these days.
June 10, 2021
Greetings in Christ Jesus! I am grateful for the ways that you continue to upbuild one another in faith, hope, and love in these seasons since the start of pandemic. While we are aware that this pandemic is not over, we do rejoice that, because of widespread vaccinations and continued adherence to health precautions, our local Covid-19 infection rates remain encouragingly low.
In that light, and because of recent changes in CDC guidelines, the Session of First Presbyterian Church has revised our health guidelines for life together. Beginning today, those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are not required to wear a mask inside FPC buildings, although you may certainly continue to wear a mask for any reason. Any person, including children over the age of five, who is not fully vaccinated is required to wear a mask at all times. These guidelines are effective for any event inside FPC buildings, including our worship together.
Staff and volunteers will adhere to these same guidelines with some extra precautions for the health and safety of members and guests of FPC: Staff and volunteers working in our FPC childcare and Presbyterian Preschool are required to wear a mask when working with children, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. Additionally, staff will wear a mask upon request when working with church members or guests who may request that they do so.
I realize that some who are reading these new policies will be overjoyed and more ready than ever to see the smiles of church friends again, and others may have reservations out of concern for those who are not yet eligible for vaccination (which presently includes all of our children from birth to age 11) or who are immunocompromised. Please continue to honor the health, wellbeing, and needs of others, as Christ calls us to love one another in his name. We are, and want to continue to be, an intergenerational community of faith that welcomes every child of God, no matter their age or health status or anything else.
Please be in touch if you have questions or concerns about these new guidelines for our life together at First Presbyterian Church, as we want to have your presence among us. We look forward to seeing you (and your smile!) very soon.
Leah R. Hrachovec
Rev. Dr. Leah R. Hrachovec
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Stillwater, OK
Updated April 29, 2021
Singing in Worship
Since resuming in-person worship on March 21, the congregation has been invited to join in on the three congregational sung responses (Kyrie, Gloria, and Doxology), while only the cantor or choir have sung the hymns. Beginning on Sunday, May 16, everyone will be invited to sing on the last verse of the closing hymn. Approved by the Covid Task Force on April 21, this is a first step toward what we all hope will be a gradual normalization of our corporate music-making.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated their Covid guidelines on March 19, and on April 13 a prepublication paper was released by the Colorado State University Aerosol Emissions Study (now undergoing peer review). In response, the National Association of Teachers of Singing offered a live online update. While cautioning that best practices will vary by region and community, NATS advocates a careful and incremental approach to the reintroduction of singing in worship that corresponds to both a downward trend in the rate of Covid infections and an upward trend in the number of vaccinations. Short amounts of singing with worshippers masked and spaced six feet apart is considered safe. Ventilation is important, so we are keeping doors open.
"Make a joyful [burst of] noise to the Lord!" (Ps. 100:1, alt. 2021)
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NATS partner sites with COVID Resources: Opera America, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO), Chorus America
Updated March 10, 2021
Updated November 12, 2020
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” -John 14:27
While our Mission stays the same, our practices change and grow. As Christ calls us to care for the whole person, and particularly the most vulnerable among us, we are continuing to adapt our common life together in response to the Coronavirus pandemic:
Per recommendations from the FPC COVID Response Task Force, Session has voted to pause our in-person worship (9:00 am service) beginning Sunday, November 15. The Task Force recommends this pause continue until conditions improve to under the 50 COVID infections per 100,000 threshold and the local hospital has greater open bed capacity. Our remote service at 11:00 am will continue
Worship will be remote only until further notice. Join in worship from your home at 11:00 am each Sunday via radio broadcast on KSPI AM780/94.3FM or online at www.stillwaterfpc.org/listenlive and follow the link. We are also on Facebook Live on our First Presbyterian Church Facebook page each Sunday at 11:00am CT. Facebook Live services can be accessed directly at www.facebook.com/StillwaterFPC and you do not need a Facebook account to watch the service. If you miss the live broadcast/livestream, you can listen to previous services or just the sermon anytime, day or night, at www.stillwaterfpc.org/sermon or find the recorded Facebook Live post on our Facebook page. *Permission to reprint, podcast, and/or stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-707358. All rights reserved.*
To find the latest online Adult Sunday School classes, click here. If you do not have regular access to the internet, please call the church office; these online gatherings can also be joined by phone (audio only). Check the weekly First Things @ FPC e-newsletter for links to online classes and events.
If you would like to receive e-newsletters for children or youth and their families, please contact Director of Children and Youth Ministries Jenna Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday Bible Study will resume in-person meetings on Thursday, July 2 at 10:00 am. Bible study will be 30 minutes and will also have a Zoom option for those who want to continue joining from home. See First Things @ FPC weekly e-newsletter for information to join, or call the church office for information on how to join.
We want to lift up the prayer concerns of one another; if you have a prayer request this week, please contact a pastor, call the church office number, or visit www.stillwaterfpc.org/prayer to submit your prayer request to us online.