Since mid-July of this year we have been having limited in-person inside worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30am, with people masked and socially distanced. It has been a joy to worship with people in the sanctuary and in person for these months, along with worshiping with all those who join us online. But in the last few weeks we have witnessed a huge spike in Covid-19 cases, both nationally and in Virginia. Just yesterday, we had almost 4,000 new cases in Virginia alone, and we sadly expect those numbers to remain very high during this winter and holiday season.
So last night, following the recommendation of our Presbytery, the session of Stone House Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to suspend indoor in-person worship until at least our next session meeting in January. We have chosen to take this step to protect the health of our staff, members, volunteers, and worshipers, and to do our part to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in our community.
We will also still have our outdoor in-person Christmas Eve service at 4:30pm on December 24th, as outdoor gatherings right now are much safer against spreading Covid-19 than indoor gatherings. We still ask that everyone please mask for that service and maintain social distancing.
We also continue to welcome members, small groups, and families to meet outside on our grounds, masked and socially distanced, using the bonfire pit, parking lot, or prayer garden, or meeting here for walks.
We know this is a very hard time. And like you, we continue to miss the in-person connection and presence. We miss talking over coffee, giving high fives and hugs. We miss singing together in our space. We miss seeing children gather up front and learn in Discovery Time downstairs. These are all things we will greatly celebrate and treasure when we can do so again safely. But right now, we prize the health and safety of everyone at SHPC and in our wider community the most, and believe this decision is done out of that care.
Thank you so much for understanding. If you any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (757) 565-1130.