Update From the FCB COVID Task Force: September 1, 2022

It is with great joy that we anticipate the coming church year. We wanted to take a moment to remind you of the COVID Protocols at First Church.

Based on the sustained decrease in new positive COVID cases in Middlesex County, stable viral RNA in local wastewater, increases in available treatments and hospital capacity, and in line with recommendations from the Town of Belmont, masks will continue to be optional for programs inside the church.


We have learned that the best protection from any virus is to stay away from others. While we want everyone to enjoy all of the programs and services of the church, we ask you to please stay home if you are not feeling well.

After two years of collective action to mitigate our shared risk, this is a time to acknowledge that, while COVID is not going away, we each have many tools to keep ourselves safe and we will shift to allow each individual to make choices aligned with their own risk tolerance. We know that everyone is coming back into our physical church community at different speeds and comfort levels, and celebrate that we are each transitioning at our own pace. We encourage groups to be mindful of differing comfort levels and to establish plans that include everyone.

A few notes on worship, meetings, and serving food:

Worship

We are very excited for the return of outdoor worship (pending town approval). On October 2nd, November 6th and December 4th we will worship outside at 10:00 am. Masks optional!

We will continue with indoor worship services all other Sundays in our sanctuary at 9:00 and 11:00. You do not need to sign up in advance. Just come when it works for you. We will have worship and programming for kids and youth at both services. Stay tuned for more details about specific religious education classes coming to families.


We will also continue to sing together in worship. We encourage folks to mask while singing indoors together, and we affirm individual people’s choice to mask or not.

If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask at any time, including while singing, please do.

We will continue with our Thursday Night Vespers services for those who would like to worship mid-week or who prefer to worship with a smaller group. Further, we will have chairs set up in the parlor at both Sunday services for anyone who would prefer to be distanced from folks as we worship.

Meetings


Each committee and program group will decide whether it will shift to in person meetings now that masks are optional. We encourage committees to speak with their membership and decide if they wish to meet in person as well as unmasked.

Many groups will choose to continue to meet online.

If you do choose to meet in the building, use this form to schedule space and get on the calendar. We will use the scheduling process we had pre-COVID.

Food and Drink

We may now have food and drink at events. Committees and groups are welcome to plan to incorporate food and drink in their gatherings. In addition, we will have food and drink available for events like memorials and weddings.

As far as coffee hour goes, we will continue to follow our in person worship with opportunities for people to connect. People seem to be talking and connecting in the pews after worship. Perhaps it’s having just shared an experience in the sanctuary and not having to move into a different space, but this seems to be working.

The Board and staff will be reflecting on coffee hour this year so stay tuned for opportunities to share feedback and ideas, but for now this will be the plan.

As always, we will provide some (nut free) snacks for kids downstairs.

So Much Gratitude

We continue to move through uncertain times. And we are so grateful for the perseverance, flexibility and goodwill of all our members and friends, all our volunteer leaders and our staff.


If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact Rev. Chris, Laurie Graham, our Parish Board President or our Congregational Administrator Janice Zazinski.


We are in this together and we look forward to a new church year full of connection, creativity, warmth and purpose.

So much love to you all,

Your COVID Task Force