Updated August 14, 2020


Building closure extended to January 3, 2021


Dear Friends,


Who would have ever imagined back in March that our communities and families would still be so deeply and profoundly affected by this worldwide pandemic close to six months later, with no true end yet in sight. But as we face its realities, we must continue to put the safety of our community at the forefront of all we do, and the decisions we make about our building.


The Moderator and Pastor of CSCC, together with the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees, and upon the continuing recommendation of the Southern New England Conference and the current guidance of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have extended the building closure through at least January 3, 2021. While we will be reassessing along the way, as we have been doing these last few months, we do not foresee at this time that it will be practical to expect an earlier open date.


But remember – the building may be closed, but the church is open! Our work to share our faith and our resources, to care for each other as Jesus cares for us, continues. Join us online, check in with your friends and neighbors, have a Zoom visit, or enjoy the shade of a big tree to have a (physically distanced) cup of coffee with someone who might feel isolated. Reach out to the church office or Rev. Beth or the care team if you need something – a prayer, a mask, a meal, a piece of pie, or just to say hello.


And when it’s safe to do so, think of the celebrating we can do when we can gather in-person once again.

 


RESOURCES:
• 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

 

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The decision to extend the building closure until now January 3, 2021 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. We have now extended the closure through January 3, 2021.


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
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 (and now through January 2021. 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