A message from Rev. Jim and Gerry
To Members of the Congregational Church of East Hampton:
As all of you are aware, our state and nation are taking steps into reopening businesses and workplaces during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen that in other states there has been a resurgence of infections after perhaps a too rapid resumption of ‘normal life.’
At the church, we continue to monitor events and review the guidance from the state of Connecticut and the Southern New England Conference of the UCC. Private indoor gatherings in settings like churches are limited in the number of attendees to 25 and will not be increased until the state enters Phase 3 later in July. And as you can imagine, maintaining a six-foot physical distance in our church’s sanctuary will be challenging as well.
The church leadership and the Church Council have made the determination to continue the closure of the church building through Monday September 7, 2020. All ministries and programs that take place – indoors – including Sunday worship are canceled during this period. We ask that everyone refrain from entering the church building during this time.
Our tentative plan is to hold an in-person service in our church sanctuary starting on Homecoming Sunday, September 13, 2020. The constantly changing circumstances of the coronavirus – with evolving guidelines on wearing masks, physical distancing, and in-person gatherings — means the church must be flexible based on what the data shows. As people of faith, our commitment to the health and well-being of our communities takes precedence.
We will continue with the weekly on-line services during this period. Our on-line gatherings have been very well attended and provide us a unique and valuable fellowship. We are also working on the ability to stream our services live on-line and are in the process of obtaining and installing the necessary equipment at the church. That way, those who do not feel comfortable being at church in-person will still be able to participate in our resumed services.
To address the very real need many of us feel to be together in person in some way, we are also in the planning stages to hold an evening “ice cream social” on the church grounds in July and again in August. Watch for the dates and times to be announced soon. We hope this can provide us a measure of church fellowship while still maintaining safe distances and following the best practices required by our state.
We are called to make our decisions wisely so that we can provide for the health and thriving of all of us. The pandemic has revealed unmistakably our interdependence with each other, which is a great blessing as well as a great challenge. May we grow together in wisdom, connection, and love as a result of this trial. Please keep our church, our community, and our nation in your prayers as we face these challenging times together.