Updated May 19, 2021: Here's the news you've all been waiting for: In-person worship resumes Sunday, JULY 11


Dear CSCC Family and Friends,


We are extremely excited to announce that, barring unforeseen health circumstances in our community, we will be resuming in-person worship on Sunday, July 11! Safety protocols will be in place, and we ask that all those attending be respectful of those protocols and of your fellow attendees, and their comfort levels. There may be limitations on how we are able to participate in the service, and other minor requirements, but we will gather in fellowship once again, and be blessed with live music and Rev. Jim’s worship leadership!


Masks will be required until further notice, so please bring one along.


Streaming worship will also still be available on Facebook and YouTube for those who prefer or need that option.


Updated March 24, 2021: In-person worship closure continues until further notice

The building is available to the Bridgewater Food Pantry, 12-step support groups, and small group gatherings under strict guidelines and protocols, by reservation only.


An update from our Building Reopening Task Force:


Hi Friends!  
We want to give an update about what the Building Reopening Task Force has been working on  regarding reopening for in-person worship in the building. 


Jeremiah 29:7 tells us: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” 


We are prayerfully considering guidance from the Southern New England Conference, CDC, State/local officials, and then, finally, looking at what our unique position is as a Church. Unlike many other churches in the area, our worship services are live-streamed on multiple platforms every Sunday. The Communion Sunday in March, for example, we had 103 devices streaming worship live. If each device is just 2 people watching together, that’s over 200 people watching worship together! We are blessed to have Rev. Beth, Julia, and Paul so willing and able to keep this ministry going.


But what would it look like if we opened the building for in-person worship? 
• Per current state guidelines, there can’t be a coffee hour.
• We likely wouldn’t be allowed to sing. 
• Communion would have to be taken to-go. 
• We’d be extremely limited in the people who could attend. 
• Congregants would have to be diligent about physical distancing.


These limitations are before we even consider problems unique to our building, like how would we cool the sanctuary in the Summer so it’s not 100 degrees inside? Fans blowing hot air around the Sanctuary certainly doesn’t feel safe. Even people fanning themselves compromises the benefits of distancing from each other.


Taking into account all of these factors, we have advised Cabinet against having in-person worship until at least the Fall. 


Having said that, there are many factors giving us optimism about being on the road to re-opening the building for worship:
• Vaccines are rapidly being deployed, and will be available to anyone who wants one in the state of Massachusetts beginning later this month.
• The number of new cases in Massachusetts as well as in Plymouth County has stayed relatively flat for the last six weeks or so (although levels are still higher than they were last summer).


Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could gather safely for worship come the Fall? There is nothing we’d like more, and we know you feel the same way.


We appreciate your continued prayers as we journey through this difficult process, yearning for “normalcy” and face-to-face community, while being responsible in keeping each other and the community at large as safe as possible. 


In Christ and with the grace of the Holy Spirit,
Ed Buckland, Mike Bundock, Krissy Cannizzo,
Lynn Pietras, Deb Sorgman, Eric Stotts



Updated January 28, 2021: In-person worship closure extended until further notice.

The building is available to the Bridgewater Food Pantry, 12-step support groups, and small group gatherings under strict guidelines and protocols, by reservation only.

 

Dear Friends of CSCC,


While we all desperately want to come back to church, and coffee hour, and youth events … and so much more, it’s simply not safe to do so yet. We have to stay the course, stay home, mask up when we need to go out, and keep our distance for just a bit longer. Then when we do gather once more, we’ll be able to come together and truly celebrate.


We were hoping that by now, and by mid-February (the beginning of Lent), we’d be able to begin worshipping all together again. But the number of cases is still high, and now we hear news of new strains that are more contagious. So instead of picking yet another somewhat random goal date, our plan is now to look at resuming in-person worship when large group indoor gatherings are again allowed. At that point, we will then reassess the data from our area as well as the state, and review the recommendations of the UCC as well as our own Re-opening Task Force.


And as we’ve said before, thank you to all that have been “thinking outside the box” of ways our community can continue to stay connected and support each other and the community at large. We are truly blessed to have each other.


Until then, we will continue to broadcast Sunday services on Facebook and YouTube, and rebroadcast them on BTV. We will also continue to stay connected as a community through the Steeple Sounds newsletter, the CSCC website, and Facebook, and connect with each other one on one through phone calls, texts, emails, Zoom, and cards...and maybe even the occasional drive-by communion or takeout dinner fundraiser.


Be well and be safe, and keep the church and each other in your prayers.

 

 

Updated December 17, 2020


Dear Friends of CSCC,


With an eye on the increasing number of COVID cases in Massachusetts, and with Bridgewater having recently been moved to a “red” designation (meaning we have greater than 10 average cases per 100,000 and greater than 5% positivity rate), Central Square Congregational Church UCC has made a decision regarding its current benchmark date for a decision to resume in-person worship.


The Moderator and Pastor of CSCC, together with the Board of Deacons, the Board of Trustees, and the Building Re-Opening Task Force, and under the current guidance of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as an abundance of caution, have postponed once again the likelihood of holding in-person worship to at least FEBRUARY 15, 2021. While we will be reassessing along the way, as we have been doing these last nine months, we do not foresee at this time that it will be practical to expect an earlier date.


Thank you to all that have been “thinking outside the box” of ways our community can continue to stay connected and support each other and the community at large. We are truly blessed to have each other, and treasure the thought of gathering together safely once more.


Until then, we will continue to broadcast Sunday services on Facebook and YouTube, and rebroadcast them on BTV. We will also continue to stay connected as a community through the Steeple Sounds newsletter, the CSCC website, and Facebook, and connect with each other through phone calls, texts, emails, Zoom, and cards...and maybe even the occasional drive-by communion hosted by Reverend Beth.


Be well and be safe, and keep the church and each other in your prayers.



Updated October 21, 2020


Dear Friends,


The Building Re-opening Task Force submitted a plan to make the building available on a limited basis for small-group gatherings. The plan was approved unanimously by Cabinet on October 21, 2020. The plan can be found by clicking HERE.


If you've been approved for a meeting in the building, click here for the contact tracing sign-in sheet, and the cleaning checklist:

Contact tracing sign-in sheet and cleaning checklist


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

 

* * * * * * * * * *


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 February 15, 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 2/15/21). 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