Building Closure Extended until September 1
Updated May 20, 2020
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.
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 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.
* * * * * * *
• We will continue to worship online for the forseeable future.
• Use the link on the homepage of www.csccucc.org to access Sunday worship. Click on the COVID-19 update link to access the YouTube link for past services.
• Sunday Worship will 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.
ONLINE PRAYER FOR ALL AGES
• Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at noon, visit our Facebook page - 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).
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
along with the rest of the CSCC Cabinet
• Central Square Congregational Church, UCC: www.csccucc.org
• Center for Disease Control Guidelines: www.cdc.gov
• World Health Organization Guidelines: www.who.int