Dear Church Family,
I am excited to share with you a few updates on the horizon regarding our life and ministry together at First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore. Last Wednesday, April 30th, your session met to discuss and determine the church’s response to Governor Abbott’s gradual plan to reopen Texas. Before I share with you the decisions that were made, let me emphasize that our discussions were prayerful, nuanced, and were focused on our dual commitment to love God through corporate worship and to love all of you, our neighbors. That is, we take seriously our responsibility to be the Church of Jesus Christ as a gathered worshiping community but not at the expense of our own physical health.
Therefore, in light of these considerations, the session has provisionally designated May 17th as our first Sunday back to in-person worship unless local and/or state officials recommend otherwise in the meantime. We will have one 10am service on that Sunday, and for the Sundays thereafter for the time being. This decision to resume in-person worship does not automatically mean a return to normal or business as usual. In order to be faithful to the governor’s recommendations for faith communities, some things will have to change for the foreseeable future. We will not have a choir, nor will we pass the offering plate, shake hands, and have moments with children. We will only sit in pews that have been designated for occupancy while maintaining recommended social distancing between individuals and families.
Regarding other activities outside of worship, the session also voted to provisionally resume committee meetings, PW Circle meetings, and regular in-person stated session meetings beginning the week of May 18th. Groups that meet must follow CDC guidelines and we strongly encourage gatherings to take place either in the fellowship hall, chapel, or sanctuary so as to have enough space to practice social distancing. At this point, we will not gather for meals, or continue our first Wednesday fellowship nights until the situation drastically improves. Decisions have not been made regarding Vacation Bible School/Day Camp, but you should know they will be made well in time to plan accordingly should VBS Day Camp be cancelled.
As I’ve said before, if you are part of the “at risk” category for COVID-19, please use caution when deciding to join us for in-person worship. We will continue making video and audio recordings of the services available online. Church offices will also reopen beginning May 18, with staff and volunteers maintaining their normal in-office hours.
Things will look and feel different, but one reality will never change: we are the body of Christ, knit together in his love and grace. Therefore, the presence of Jesus Christ within us and among us strengthens us for worship and service, even in a pandemic. If you have any questions or concerns regarding our plan to resume worship and other activities, do not hesitate to reach out to me or a member of session.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Will Wilson
First Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 1216
Kilgore, Texas 75663