Dear Members and Friends of the First Presbyterian Church in Victor:
I am writing to you with an update on a recent Session decision regarding our stance on mask wearing and COVID protocols given the changes that have occurred in the past several weeks. We as the session of First Presbyterian have engaged with the data from the CDC, NYS, Ontario County and Presbytery of Genesee Valley, and had a lengthy discussion before making a motion. We first wish to recognize the varying beliefs and data, as well as the varying comfort levels of our church members especially given those who are still at greater risk. We also must recognize that we have a responsibility to what our greatest desire is (to have church without any protocols as we did prior to COVID), as well as to care for and ensure the safety, comfort, and hospitality of all members and visitors. Please let us all remember that we try to do the best that we can with the current information and guidelines, but there are no easy answers.
Our current practice therefore will be based on this motion from Session:
“Mask wearing is optional at our church facility, including worship services, based on personal decision for each adult. Individuals are encouraged to follow the latest CDC and NYS guidelines; Vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks and unvaccinated should continue wearing masks. Children should follow written rules of the Superintendent of the Victor Schools until the end of the school year. After the end of the school year, it is the parents’ decision (whether children mask/do not mask.) Pew separation will be maintained for social distancing. Singing is allowed. We will continue to ask people to sign-in (mainly to track attendance and visitors.)”
What this means is that this Sunday, June 13, 2021, these changes will take effect. We trust you all in this manner and believe you will make the best decision on masking/unmasking for yourself and your family. We also respect and honor any who continue to wear masks even if they have been vaccinated. We will continue to offer worship online for any who would prefer that option; however, our hope is that this change would encourage people to attend in person.
I am sure this will feel weird for some of us, extremely freeing for others, and will come with cautious optimism from us all. I appreciate what our Session has decided as well as what our most immediate neighboring church has decided about this as well at the Victor United Methodist Church. Alongside our partnership together comes a mutual respect and desire to be consistent in these practices. As we engage one another again it may be tempting to do the things we once did openly and freely. Might I suggest what Pastor Ben has also suggested; that any form of appropriate shows of public affection be done so with permission (IE-May I shake your hand? May I give you a hug?). Let us be as hospitable, as loving, and respectful of each other as we can be so that we can truly be welcoming as a church to one another and any visitors.
This way we can continue to live into our motto:
“Whoever you are, however you have come (masked or unmasked), you are welcome.”
With love and respect,
Rev. Nicholas J. Dorland