Good Afternoon, Church Family:
As always, I hope this email finds you, your loved ones, and friends well, safe and healthy.
I am delighted to share with you all that Church Council met last night and has set Sunday, January 10th at 10 am as our first Sunday to begin coming back to our worship space. We had a very detailed and productive conversation about guidelines and what we will (and won't) be doing as we begin to come back, and how we will arrange for signing up for attending on Sundays. We still have some details to hone around these things, but a thorough communication will be coming from Council to all of you in the coming weeks about exactly what we'll be doing and how we'll be doing it come the new year. Our staff and Council have done a remarkable job through all of this, and all of them are owed a profound amount of gratitude and thanks for all of their dedication and hard work.
Along those lines, I've had several people inquire about coming back for Christmas Eve. While I appreciate that it would be a deeply meaningful time to return, logistically it is a very different event to plan for appropriately than what we are planning for January, and after much discussion between the staff, it is clear that there are far more difficulties involved in attempting to accommodate what a Christmas Eve service would require than a gradual opening as we're planning for the new year. That, coupled with the fact that we simply don't know what COVID may do come that time of year in terms of new spikes or second waves, we need to opt and plan on the side of caution rather than plan something that might need to be canceled and then have nothing to offer for Christmas Eve. The Council and staff have been planning for an opening in the new year since early in the summer, and we're holding to that schedule.
Dr. Sinclair and I have spoken at length about Christmas Eve and what we plan to do, and he and I feel that what we have planned to offer will be special and meaningful for the season, even if it means we aren't together; plus it ensures the safety and health of our church family which remains our top priority and responsibility.
Also, please remember that we do have a very special "Drive Through Bethlehem" event planned for Wednesday evening, December 23rd that will be an additional way for our church family to celebrate the season and be together on our campus during the season.
On behalf of myself, the staff, the Trustees, and the Council I want to thank you all for your continued patience, support, and participation through these challenging times. We will continue to appreciate those things as we begin to come back, for no matter how carefully we plan there are sure to be adjustments we'll need to make as the new year rolls along.
Stay safe, and stay healthy. I look forward to being with you all again in a few short months.
Rev. Shawn Garvey, M. Div.
Senior Minister, First Congregational Church Of Winter Park
225 S. Interlachen Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789