Updated on January 26, 2021
What a long time it has been, friends, since we wrote our first COVID-19 update for the church family, back in March 2020! It has been and continues to be our goal to keep the church family updated and informed and to continue to build and sustain community in new and creative ways during this continued public health crisis.
Our church family has been fortunate to be served by a volunteer team forming our Reopening Task Force Ad-Hoc Committee* during this time. This group has met consistently to consider COVID numbers in the Commonwealth and in our community, to think through best practices and questions about building use, to help analyze results of studies on our HVAC systems and numbers of fresh air exchanges per hour in different rooms of the church building, and to consider ways to keep our church family as safe and healthy as possible.
At this time, we have prioritized in-person building use for our satellite ministry, Harborlight Nursery School, which is operating with greatly reduced numbers and very strict COVID protocols to be able to welcome children back for a critically important early childhood education experience; as well as our Meals Program, which has continued, thanks to the direction and hard work of John and Eileen Hadley, to serve our community without interruption during this time.
Some other building use is now taking place – largely for staff and for some portions of our Music Department – with strict protocols in place and with careful tracking to ensure we have a log of each person who has been in the building, for potential contact tracing purposes.
At this time, we do not anticipate an in-person return to worship in our building until such a time when indoor gatherings can be made reliably safer and when the COVID vaccine rollout has moved forward past the phase in which all residents will be eligible to be vaccinated. Currently, this means we are looking at a potential timeline that would bring us to June/July 2021, however, as has been the case throughout this pandemic, flexibility remains key, as our Reopening Task Force will continue to offer advice and guide decision-making based on the best available data and science at the time, as well as being guided by a strong commitment to ensuring any in-person building use is as safe as possible and being guided by a commitment that we want to be able to gather when it will be possible to do in large enough numbers that people would not be excluded or turned away from a gathering or worship service.
We will, for this time, continue with virtual worship and other virtual connections as we have been. We also continue to encourage church members and friends to call one another, email one another, and check in on each other in these times, as we know many of you have been doing. We have not ceased to be the church in the time since March, and we will continue being the church in the coming days, weeks, and months – even if we remain physically distant for some time, still.
Thank you for being with us on this journey. Thank you for being patient and persistent in the learning curve of technology. Thank you for lending your gifts and talents in these days. Thank you for helping to take care of one another. Thank you for the many ways that you all – that we all – continue to be the church, together. Please do not hesitate to contact Kent (KHARROP@FBCBEVERLY.ORG), Jaimie (JCRUMLEY@FBCBEVERLY.ORG), or Julie (JFLOWERS@FBCBEVERLY.ORG) with any questions you may have.
Additionally, one of the best ways to keep abreast of the most up-to-date COVID-realated/vaccine-related information from the City of Beverly and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is to consult the COVID dashboards of both of those entities’ websites. You can access the City of Beverly COVID-19 Dashboard at https://www.beverlyma.gov/508/COVID-19-Information (which also contains, then, links to the Commonwealth of MA COVID dashboard).
With you in the love of Christ, Julie, Jaimie, and Kent
*Members of the Reopening Task Force are Joe Bertolino, Esther Chang, Pam Constantine, Julie Flowers, Kent Harrop, Lisa LaPlante, Karen Popadic, Gloria Stoneham (Moderator), and Jeremy Weir.