A Note from the LPC Door Opening Team
(Updated 13 November WEB)
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, the DOT continued to meet every week to do its work. More recently, 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;
- Developed a plan that would allow a County-licensed Day Care center operating at LPC to re-open. This is a badly-needed service that will help our neighbors returning to work. This plan protects the church by isolating all day care operations, including entrance/exit, to the first floor of the education wing. Julie Bertak is the LPC liaison with the day care center.
Please keep the cay care providers/owners, Latrice and Shelby, in your prayers as they wait for County approval get back to work. After receiving the 60+ pages of required information, the PG County officials are not being responsive in setting up the facility inspection that is required to open up the day care center. This has caused severe stress and financial difficulty on Latrice and Shelby. LPC has contacted PG County Councilman, Tom Dernoga, to request that his office look into this.
- 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 recently (October) 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 small outdoor prayer and fellowship opportunities, like Wednesday morning prayers and the Martha and Mary gathering.
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