Updated May 20, 2020

Building closure extended to September 1


Dear Friends,


As this pandemic continues to affect our community and our world, and with the least among us particularly in mind, the Central Square Congregational Church building, at the recommendation of the Southern New England Conference, the CSCC Board of Deacons, and the CSCC Cabinet, has extended its closure until at least September 1.

* Visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaVPnTcXn2rQTL578GbSgcg to view upcoming and past worship services.
* Sunday Worship will continued to be livestreamed from the Sanctuary at 10 a.m. Only the Pastor, the Minister of Music, and the Director of Video Evangelism will be allowed in the building. 


* Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at noon, visit our Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/csccuccbridgewaterma/ - to engage in a live, interactive prayer session led by Rev. Beth.


•  Most building users are still prohibited from using the building. The Bridgewater Food Pantry, with procedures put in place to protect its visitors and staff, is an exception and will continue to provide food to our community in need. We are also working with the addiction support groups to possibly begin meeting again in our building. Their requirements would be specific and strictly enforced. They would include things like social distancing, the wearing of masks, prohibition from using the kitchen and from using tables, and using only one of the bathrooms. Proper sanitizing would be done between each group meeting.
•  Even if you have a key to the building, please do not enter the building during this time. Each one of us that enters is a potential carrier, even if we’re not feeling sick. If you are tempted to say, "well, I'm sure that doesn't mean me.", IT DOES. If you have any questions or think that you should enter the building for any reason, call the church office at 508-697-6016 (phone is being answered remotely during the shutdown).


For any prayer requests or emotional support, or if you need a mask or a meal, or even just to chat, please email our Care Team and Deacons at centralsquarecareteam@gmail.com or Rev. Beth directly at csccpastor@hotmail.com.


During this time, we encourage you to continue your support of CSCC, to the degree you are able. We know this may be a trying time for you financially as well as emotionally, so please know that we understand if you are not able to meet your usual giving goals. But for those who can, remember the church has ongoing expenses that don't care that everything is shut down. And we are trying to do right by our staff as much as possible, even though our primary income mechanism is unavailable (Sunday offerings).
Offerings can be made in any of the following ways:
* Checks can be mailed to the church at 71 Central Square, Bridgewater, MA 02324.
* Bill-pay through your bank can be set up for one-time or recurring payments
* Payments can be made by CLICKING HERE. It is facilitated by Paypal, but no Paypal account is needed.

If you have any questions, you can email the Treasurer directly and confidentially at treasurer@csccucc.com.



In these difficult times, you may find it’s often hard to feel like you can support yourself, not to mention supporting the church and all of the outreach it continues to do. Also remember that, at least so far, the church has been able to continue paying its staff so that they can continue to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads. 
    At the same time, because of COVID-19, you may be ordering more online these days, and one of the easiest ways we help support our church is to place your normal Amazon orders, with "Amazon Smile" instead. It works exactly like a regular Amazon order (and IS an Amazon order), and you pay the exact same amount, except that 0.5% of the purchase goes to a charity. 
    Just go to smile.amazon.com instead of amazon.com, and make sure you select Central Square Congregational Church as your charity of choice. You can use it for all of your business purchases as well as personal ones -- a purchase is a purchase. So whether it's printer paper, a new computer headset, pantry food items, cat litter, or a new puzzle, help the church pay its bills and continue its outreach at the same time as getting what you need. It may not be enough to put a new roof on the building, but it can probably help pay for extra sanitizer when we all can get back to worship in the church in the Fall.
    And tell your family and friends near and far! Everyone can do it! Thank you. (Contact the church office if you need help setting this up or using it.)



Yours In Christ,
Rev. Beth Stotts, Pastor
Anne Malmquist, Moderator
Diane Sheibley, Vice Moderator
David Sheibley, Treasurer
Ed Buckland, Board of Trustees
Deb Sorgman, Board of Deacons


• Central Square Congregational Church, UCC: www.csccucc.org
• Center for Disease Control Guidelines: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
• World Health Organization Guidelines: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019


* * * * * * * * * *


The decision to extend the building closure until at least September 1 was not, as you can imagine, made lightly. We would like to share with you how this decision was made, and on what information.


Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ
Just prior to Governor Baker’s announcement that churches may begin to once again hold in-person worship services, the SNEC-UCC released their recommendation that church buildings remain closed to group events of any kind at least until September 1.


Upon Gov. Baker’s announcement, they stood by their recommendation, and reiterated their reasons. Their full commentary and analysis is available on their website at sneucc.org/phasingforward. Below are several excerpts:
• First, there is no way to ensure the overall safety of our congregations and communities until there is a trusted vaccine. 
• Second, in person worship in sanctuaries is one of the types of gatherings that is most likely to spread the infection:  
— In an enclosed room over a length of time the airborne viral particles can reach every corner. 6-foot or 12-foot physical distancing will not prevent this.   
— Speaking, praying, and singing aloud propels the virus even further than just breathing.  
— Using masks limits but does not prevent the transmission of the disease.  
— Common surfaces abound. 
— We know that people can be carriers of the virus without any symptoms. 
• Third, we don’t know everything about this disease and its impact on all ages. New information is coming out daily. This makes it hard to predict trends, safety measures, and phases.   
• Fourth, our congregations are comprised of the populations most vulnerable to Covid-19.    
• Fifth, an outbreak in our churches impacts our communities and the capacity of our health care system.  


CSCC Board of Deacons
The Board of Deacons recommended to the Cabinet that they did not feel reopening the building was appropriate at this time, with the following thoughts:
• Many of our usual traditions, and the interactions that we hold dear as a part of worship, would likely not be a part of it: greeting, ushering, conducting the offering, communion, and coffee hour.
• There is not much to be gained by having the office staff working on location more than they are now, and we do not want to encourage visitors to the office. They can continue to work remotely as they have been as much as possible and at their comfort level.


Cabinet met in May on their usual 3rd Wednesday of the month, on May 20, via Zoom teleconferencing. The information from the Conference and from the Deacons was presented. Other discussion was presented, such as if we were limited by the state as to how many people we could have in a worship service, who would enforce that?  How could we turn people away if we were “at capacity”? It is for all of these preceding reasons that Cabinet was in full agreement that we not open the building to the public until at least September 1. As that date draws near, all circumstances will be reevaluated, and further decision will be made accordingly.


From Rev. Beth...
Friends, these are not easy decisions to make. During this time when we are practicing social distancing as medical experts recommend, I want to encourage us to reach out to one another in other ways, just as the Care Team and Deacons do. Call, text, email, send an uplifting message on Facebook, drop a card in the mail—because these are scary and stressful times indeed and we need one another. Remember...we are the church.  Pray for one another and pray for our world.  Pray for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and for the selfless medical professionals who are caring for them. May God bless you and keep you, always.
In Christ, Rev. Beth