We Are Gathering for In-Person Worship*! Yay!
*Provided COVID cases don’t get worse (according to CovidActNow) and weather permits
Here’s what you need to know:
Is this a one time special occasion?
No. Our session has determined that we can continue to meet outside for the indefinite future unless the numbers move into the critical (red) on CovidActNow. We don’t expect this to happen. When the numbers drop into the yellow zone and remain there we can think about moving back indoors. (There will be no tent on the Sundays after Easter, so if the weather is really poor, we will move back online on that Sunday.)
I heard I need to make a reservation.  Are seats limited?
Seats are not limited while we are outside.  Anyone can come. When we do move back indoors we may need to reserve seats because we can only seat 60 people and safely social distance. 
What if I’m not comfortable coming to worship? Will the services still be online?

Yes! We expect to be streaming our services long into the future. People appreciate being able to worship online, and we know some will not be comfortable returning to the building yet. You can still view worship online as usual.
What if I’m in a high-risk category?

Those in a high-risk category and those who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to use wisdom when making a decision about attending worship in person. We urge you be cautious with your health.

What if I choose not to be vaccinated? Am I still welcome to come to worship?

Of course! Everyone is welcome to join in the worship of God at First Presbyterian.

Is it true the services will be shorter?

Yes! For the time being our services will be about 30 – 40 minutes. The same as they are currently online. The risk of contracting Covid 19 rises as a person spends longer in gatherings, so we are keeping things brief for the time being.

What else will be different about the services?

Most noticeably we will not be singing for now. Singing has proven to be one of the most dangerous spreaders of Covid 19 even with masks. Music will still be an important part of our services and we will look for creative ways to engage music with our hearts and minds. We also will allow worship leaders to say prayers for the body for now, but we will be looking for creative ways for congregational participation. On Easter Sunday we are encouraging everyone to bring bells to ring!

Am I required to wear a mask or face covering? What about social distancing?

Everyone who gathers for worship is expected to wear a face mask that is two ply thickness or greater. We are following the recommendations of the CDC in regards to face masks. We will have disposable masks available in case you forgot yours. All staff and volunteer teams will be wearing masks when seating guests or in close proximity to attendees.
We will practice social distancing. Attendees will be asked to sit with members of their own household and six feet away from other family groups or individuals.

Is it true that there’s no coffee?

Unfortunately, yes. There will be no snacks or beverages. The bathrooms on the first floor will be open, but water fountains have been turned off. We will have water bottles near the water fountain in case you are thirsty.

I love to shake hands and hug people. Can we hug and shake hands yet?

So sorry… no. For the time being, please enjoy non-contact greetings like waving or head nods instead of shaking hands, fist bumps or hugging.

I like to hang around and visit after services. Is that a problem?

It might be. At the conclusion of our services, you will be systematically dismissed. We kindly request that you not linger and congregate so you and others will not be at risk. A little visiting outside is ok, but please be judicious and attentive to the people you engage in conversation who may not be comfortable chatting, particularly if they are unvaccinated.

How long are we going to worship this way?

The leaders and staff at First Presbyterian Church continue to monitor the situation and to listen to the best advice of church leaders, medical advisors and our government. With the Advent of vaccines, we believe the incidence of Covid 19 will be declining into the summer and fall. As the situation improves we will be changing the guidelines to enable greater freedom in worship and connection face to face. In the meantime, isn’t it great to be able to gather again?!!
May 2 and May 9 Worship:
We will be live streaming only this week at 10:00 AM.  We are currently in the “red” risk level with CovidActNow and our worship protocols direct us to cease in person worship when our county is in the red.  Once we have moved back into the “orange” risk level, we will wait until we have been in the orange for two weeks before resuming in person worship.  For now, that means we will be live streaming only through Sunday May 9.  It may be longer depending on how Covid infection rates develop in Elkhart county, but hopefully we will return to the orange and be able to gather outside again soon!
Real-time CovidActNow infection information for Elkhart