A Note from the LPC Door Opening Team
(Updated 11 April 2021 WEB)
I write this with more tempered news about our ongoing recovery from the COVID pandemic than the last time I wrote. First the good news:
- 80% of LPC seniors have been vaccinated or are have vaccines scheduled. The vast majority of those who qualify under Phase 1C are getting vaccinated.
- Maryland has accelerated its vaccination plan, and as of 12 April, all Maryland residents 16 years and older are eligible to schedule a vaccination appointment from all providers.
Now the bad:
- Over the past few weeks, local COVID rates have started to increase again, after several months of decline.
We will have to carefully and prayerfully weigh these contrary factors as we make plans for face-to-face worship.
LPC and our sister church, IDL who also uses the building for worship, are both making plans for face-to-face worship. At this point, LPC is hoping/planning to open for indoor worship on 23 May. However, the indoor worship date may get delayed if the COVID rates continue to trend upward. We are also planning to have in-person outdoor worship gatherings in the near future.
Below, here is a summary of what the Door Opening Team (DOT) has done to date:
In the spring of 2020, when the COVID pandemic came to Maryland and public schools were closed, the Laurel Presbyterian Church (LPC) Session voted to suspend corporate worship to protect the congregation. This was done prior to the order from Governor Hogan that suspended religious gatherings, as well as all non-essential business in Maryland. Soon after, LPC began offering weekly worship videos and Zoom prayer meetings in lieu of our traditional in-person Sunday worship, and continues to do so.
After the COVID and hospitalization rates began to drop and testing became more widely available, Maryland and Prince George’s County began to phase in commercial, recreational, and religious activity. During this time, the LPC session stood up a Door Opening Team (DOT) to develop recommendations for how LPC can operate safely during the current COVID pandemic, how LPC can eventually re-open its facility for face-to-face corporate worship, and how it can help the Laurel neighbors in these difficult times.
Through late summer and early fall of 2020, the DOT continued to meet every week to do its work. Since then, we are meeting less frequently, as much of the planning has been completed. By and large, thanks to the work of the LPC Property Committee, the LPC facility work has been completed and is ready to indoor worship. We are now waiting for the the local COVID rates to come down enough to permit indoor worship.
A short summary of our efforts to date includes:
- Monitoring Maryland and PG County COVID-related closure and opening announcements;
- Monitoring the COVID infection rates in the LPC region. (See attachment);
- Developing COVID safety recommendations for restricted use of the church building – that allows for maintenance and limited administrative activity;
- Working to re-open a County-licensed Child Care center at LPC. After many months of working with the Child Care through long PG-Co bureaucratic delays, we are seeing fruits of our labor: a license to re-open has been granted. Julie Bertak is the LPC liaison with the day care center.
- Developed an overarching framework for determining when and how LPC can consider reopening for indoor worship. This was approved by Session on 28 June (See attachment);
- Developed LPC Indoor Worship COVID Safety Guidelines, as required by the above-mentioned framework for re-opening. This was approved by LPC Session on 04 August (See attachment);
- Working with the LPC Property Committee, who during the winter added touches faucets to the LPC bathrooms, and ordered and installed hand sanitizer dispensers;
- Coordinating with the LPC Worship and Music Committee, and members of the congregation, to offer outdoor prayer and fellowship opportunities during fair weather.
DOT Reference Documents:
To see Session-Approved Indoor Worship Safety Guidelines: click here --> LPC Safety Guide
Submitted by Walt Bowen
Chairman of the Door Opening Team
on behalf of your DOT: Andy Kirkham, Dot Brownlie, Monica Anthony, Kevin Winters, Amy Schacht