PAST UPDATES FROM FCC OF MILTON
April 29, 2022 — Status updated to Yellow: Capacity limits are lifted and masking is optional. We encourage everyone to be extra cautious, and the CDC recommends if you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.
March 23, 2022 — I am so proud of the way you as a church have walked through two years of the COVID-19 pandemic together.
We are now living in a time where many of us are vaccinated, and many organizations and institutions are relaxing restrictions. Experts are telling us that the near-term future of the pandemic is likely to be one of ebbs and flows with periods of surges that will necessitate extra precautions, and periods of calm where we can relax some of those restrictions and still be relatively safe.
This week, the Board of Trustees updated our church’s COVID-19 protocols to be nimbler based on the current level of spread in our community using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines. The CDC color codes COVID-19 spread by county with green being low, yellow moderate and red high. Right now, Norfolk County is in the green, as is almost all of Massachusetts. The new church protocols based on the CDC guidelines are:
Green: No room capacity limits in our building and masks are optional.
Yellow: Capacity limits are lifted and masking is optional. We encourage everyone to be extra cautious, and the CDC recommends if you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.
Red: Room capacity limits observed. Indoor mask requirement.
Since we are currently in the green, we begin this Sunday with no room capacity limits in our building and masks are optional.
The CDC updates their COVID-19 spread map every Thursday night at 8 p.m. If there’s a change that necessitates a change in our protocols, I will notify the congregation.
Remember we are in this together, and we may not all be at the same place in terms of how we feel about wearing masks and socially distancing. Some of our community may not want to be physically close as a matter of protecting themselves and, as a church, it is so important for us to continue to respect and protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. I will wear my mask, except when I’m speaking from the pulpit, as I want everyone to feel comfortable approaching me.
Finally, I am so grateful for the Board of Trustees, who have worked so hard and are so thoughtful when making the best decisions regarding COVID-19 protocols. We continue to live in unprecedented times where often there is no one obvious right answer. They have taken their responsibility so seriously, and I appreciate all the good work.
Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns as I’m always happy to listen to all of you.
Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons
September 22, 2021 — Vaccines have allowed us to expand our programs. If you have not already, please get vaccinated against COVID-19 when you are eligible. If you have any questions or concerns about getting vaccinated, our Acting Pastor would be happy to speak with you privately. Each vaccination brings us closer to the experience of being together that we all miss.
Sunday morning worship is being conducted in-person and remotely. All are welcome to attend our Sunday morning worship service either in person or online at 10 a.m. each week. For those who attend in person, we require that everyone older than 2 wear a mask. We are opening our large windows to improve ventilation. Social distancing is encouraged.
Singing in Service. We are excited to welcome back our choir and soloists beginning Sunday, September 19, 2021. The choir will sing with masks. In order to safely offer the best quality music possible, our soloists are fully vaccinated and required to test negative for COVID-19 each week before they sing. With these precautions in place, the soloists will remove their masks to sing. We will block off several rows of pews in the front of the sanctuary to create distance between the soloists and the congregation.
Sunday School. The Board of Christian Education is working on a plan to reopen our Sunday school as soon as we can safely. Please stay tuned for updates on our children’s programs in the coming weeks. For now, we continue to welcome families to worship together either in person or on our livestream.
Youth Group resumes September 12, 2021. Grades 6 and 7 meeting from 5 to 6:30 p.m., and grades 8 through 12 meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m., both in the Youth Room. If you would like more information and detailed updates on the youth program, please contact Rev. R.G. Wilson-Lyons.
We are looking forward to another season of Small Groups. If you have not already, please complete the small group survey so we can best match you with a group. We plan for the groups to start meeting by October, some in-person, others by Zoom. Indicate your preference on the survey.
December 2, 2020 — Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, most church activities — including Sunday morning worship — are being conducted remotely. We strive to remain collected as a community while we are physically apart. Here are some ways you can connect to the church during this time: Worship, 10 a.m., Youth Zoom, Give, Prayer Request, Watch Sermons, Sunday School.
July 22, 2020 — As we all look toward the fall, we are facing a lot of questions and uncertainty about what lies ahead. None of us yet know just what school will look like, what our work will look like, or what might happen to our future travel plans and events.
For many, fall also marks a time of renewed engagement with the church. It is safe to say that this fall will feel different at First Congregational Church of Milton. At the same time, there will continue to be lots of ways to connect to our ministry, and continue your journey of faith during this time when we cannot gather in person.
The Board of Trustees has voted to reopen our building to some small gatherings. This means, we are looking to safely schedule anonymous support groups, tenants, and church events that meet in small groups. At this time, we expect worship to remain a remote experience, as there is not a reasonably safe way to gather in large numbers in an indoor space.
The church leadership is continuing to seek a balance between the essential functions of our ministry and the safety of our staff and community.
If you have taken a break from the livestream worship this summer, please plan to start attending again. And stay tuned for more updates about opportunities to gather in small groups and to serve our community. I am so proud of the ways this church has adapted to this new normal, and I am grateful to God, whose presence never left us through all these challenges.
Like you, I long to gather again. Until then, I am grateful to be connected in spirit.
May 20, 2020–All church programs, including worship, will be held remotely until further notice.
You may have seen that Massachusetts is beginning the cautious process of reopening our state. Houses of worship are included in phase 1 of the reopening and are now permitted to begin holding in-person services, albeit with significant new safety measures in place.
Our church will continue to gather remotely.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Even though we are now allowed to return to in-person gatherings, our Church Council has wisely determined that it is not yet appropriate to do so.
In addition to the new minimum safety standards set by the commonwealth, we have received guidance from the United Church of Christ that outlines a more cautious process for returning to in-person activities. Today, we also received a letter from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, which strongly urged churches against regathering in person.
Ultimately, our Church Council will prayerfully and judiciously determine what is best for our local church. Consulting the best available guidance, they will discern when and how we begin to return to in-person activities. Our staff, leaders, and other volunteers are working hard to ensure that we are ready to welcome you back to our sanctuary as soon as it is safe to do so.In the meantime, I am inspired by the way that the spirit of this church has carried beyond our walls. Our pews may be empty, but the worship of God is still ascending from our hearts. Read on below for ways we can stay connected. We cannot eat together, but we are feeding our neighbors more generously than we ever have. We cannot hold each others hands, yet our connections abound.
Thank you for being the church: together, in spirit. It is an honor to be your pastor.
March 13, 2020–Being together and worshiping God lies at the heart of who we are. Caring for one another and looking after our neighbors is also at the heart of who we are.
And so our heart is torn. Torn between our genuine desire to be together, and our call to act on behalf of those most at risk.
Please know that our inability to be together does not mean our inability to be the church. In the days and weeks ahead it will be more important than ever before that we remain diligent in our prayers, that we reach out in love to those we know who may be struggling, and that we stay alert for opportunities to serve our community in a moment of need.
The following are some ways to remain connected, though we worship apart. Please let us know if you have any ideas on how to use the strength of the spirit to help our neighbors in need, support the saints among us and keep the peace in this uncertain time.
Our Sunday worship will livestream each week at 10 a.m. Access it here: ww.fccmilton.org/livestream. Worship will include a sermon and music, using as small of a crew of church staff and volunteers as possible. Please join us for this new way of being together. Contact Rev. John Allen, for technical help.
Children and Youth
To help our children remain engaged in faith formation while we are apart, once a week, we will send materials, including a video lesson and printable activity sheets, to all of families registered for Sunday School.
Small Groups and Classes
Some church board, committee and group activities will be postponed; others will take place remotely. If you are a participant in a board, committee or small group, you will receive instructions.
The church staff will be working remotely to make sure that our mission and purpose is carried out as faithfully as ever. If you have any need, please do not hesitate to contact any of us.
Let us find comfort in the opening words of Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the Earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
That last word, Selah, is an ancient word that indicated a place for the cantor to take a breath. I sense that we could all use a breath right now. So read those words once more. Then pause to draw a good, deep, breath.
And maybe once more.
For accurate and up to date information about the spread of the virus, please consult these trustworthy resources: