June 18, 2020
Dear Members and Friends of Second Presbyterian Church,
At their June meeting, the Session unanimously approved a recommendation that Second Presbyterian Church not resume in-person Sunday morning worship services before September of 2020.
The recommendation came from the Re-opening the Church Task Force, and the recommendation and rationale can be found below.
On-line worship services will continue to be offered on the church website at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
Re-Opening the Church Task Force Recommendation
It is the recommendation of the Re-Opening the Church Task Force that Second Presbyterian Church not resume in-person Sunday morning worship services before September of 2020. The safety of our members and others who attend worship is the primary factor behind this recommendation.
The task force spent much time in prayer, discernment, and conversation. The following concerns guide our recommendation:
- While many businesses, restaurants, gyms and some churches are re-opening, there has been no decline in the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths brought about by the corona virus. In fact, in Arkansas and many other states, the numbers continue to rise. This reality is consistent with the prediction of public health officials, who project a long trajectory for the pandemic.
- A significant majority of respondents to our congregational survey indicated a real hesitancy regarding returning to worship. Only 23% responded “I will return the first opportunity we have” or “I will return the first opportunity we have but with some concerns and precautions.” 66% responded “I will wait several additional weeks before I attend” or “It may be quite some time before I return.” 11% responded “not sure.”
- Religious gatherings are considered highly contagious events. The act of singing, the familiarity of people across households, the multi-generational community of children, youth, adults and seniors—the very things that make a congregation special—also create more risk for spreading the virus.
360 members participated in the congregational survey. 133 of these not only answered the questions; they also included written comments. The vast majority miss in-person worship, and look forward to the time we can return to it. But safety concerns outweigh a premature return to in-person worship. In the words of one respondent: “If inconveniencing me prevents the death of one single person, I would much, much rather do that. If we re-open too soon, we endanger the lives of everyone attending church. I can deal with an on-line service if it keeps our congregation safe.”
Members of the Re-Opening the Church Task Force
(Bolton Kirchner, Catherine Lowry, Craig Wilson, Eileen Ellis, Jane Miers, Kim Reynolds, Patty Bates Abraham, Steve Hancock)