There is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under heaven 
… a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 5

Worship is still worship, and we honor praise and give glory to God in this time of change and restriction.  He is unchanging and unrestricted! We know that there are those who cannot or are not yet ready to physically gather, and we honor those choices.  The live streaming of our worship services will continue indefinitely.  The Regathering Team has prepared a detailed document to answer the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which is below.  All of this is new territory, but we go together with much prayer, planning and action beforehand!

Gene Cardle, Dave Chiechi, Victoria Garcia 
Jeanne Linquist, John Tastor, Kristy Wilson
Marie Wilson, Liz Yeager

 


​Will I still be able to view and participate online?
Yes. We will continue to improve the online streaming experience to keep it a good option for anyone who wants to participate that way. We will continue to stream the 9:30am service at www.FPCSM.org
 
What if I am uncomfortable coming to in-person worship?
That’s okay! We know everyone has a different level of comfort, so please do what you feel is best for you, whether that is watching at home or joining us in person. We are together wherever we are!
 
What will the worship services be like? 
The familiar elements everyone appreciates in our worship services will still be there, including dynamic praise and worship led by the worship team, a time for children, prayer, a great message with personal application, and friendly faces! We cannot offer nursery, preschool or children’s programs at this time, so our families will sit together for the full service. 
 
How do we plan to keep our campus clean and people safe?
We are continually tracking the health orders and guidelines, seeking to comply and maintain best practices for everyone’s safety. Here are several steps we are taking at this stage:
  • A “touch-free” service. This means no handshakes and hugs, bulletins or passing the offering plates. All
    doors will be open so no one will have to touch doors or handles. Online giving will be encouraged, and an
    offering box will be available lobby. 
  • The lobby, sanctuary, and restrooms will receive a deep professional cleaning. Additionally, we have
    upgraded the HVAC filters with much higher energy efficient filters that will capture more airborne particles.
    We also will be disinfecting the lobby, sanctuary, and restrooms after each service with cleaning agents
    recommended by the CDC.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be in the lobby.
  • Masks will be required and available for those needing them. 
  • Safe distancing will be maintained between congregants in the sanctuary. Seating will be limited to every
    other pew, and we will stagger pew seating to preserve distances. 
  • Hymnals, pens, and paper and other shared items will be removed from the pews. 
 
How can I prepare for our safe regathering? 
  • Check-in from home (coming soon) to facilitate planning and seating. Also, to make follow-up contacting
    possible in the event of need, we will ask attendees to sign in at the service.  
  • Wear a mask; put it on as you leave your vehicle.  
  • Please follow the instructions of our greeters. We want to ensure that we seat everyone safely and
    consistent with distancing guidelines.  
  • If anyone is uncomfortable with physically being in the Sanctuary, we understand. Please remember we will
    be permanently streaming the 9:30am service and all are welcome to join us for worship that way.
 
Are facemasks required for worshipers and greeters?
Yes, for the foreseeable future and according to current government guidelines, facemasks will be required for everyone age 2 and up. Our goal is to make everyone feel as comfortable and safe as possible. 
 
Will my temperature be taken as I enter?
No. However, if you have an elevated temperature, cough, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are in a risk category, we ask that you continue to worship from home by way of the live stream. 
 
Where can we sit?
Seating will be planned to maintain safe distance between individuals or family units and adjoining congregants. Each family group will sit together leaving a 6-foot space from the next person or family group in the pew. We do request that if your family group arrives separately, you meet in the parking lot and walk in together. Our greeters will help direct you to available seating. We will also be blocking off every other pew to maintain good social distancing.  
 
What about congregational singing?
Not yet, especially the loud, robust singing we are accustomed to. Because of the possibility of the spread of COVID-19 by aerosols created by singing, and the need to wear a mask during the worship service, singing is not encouraged. For the same reasons, the choir will not sing, and the worship team will be spaced in a way to promote safe distancing and protection.  
 
How will the services end?
At the end of each service, our greeters will dismiss us by row.  
 
Can I still receive prayer at the service?
Yes, we want to pray for you! Our current plan is to have a corporate prayer at the end of the service. If you would like individual prayer at the end of the worship service, you can let the greeter who is dismissing your row know, and he or she will direct you. You may also email your prayer request to prayers@fpcsm.org so we can add you to our prayer list or connect with you digitally for prayer.
 
What if I need to leave early? 
We ask that you leave by the most direct means possible, by the aisle nearest to where you are worshipping in order to minimize having to step over or around other worshipers.
 
Are we re-opening the nursery, playground, and kids’ in-person programs on Sunday morning, too?
Given current health guidelines, we will wait. Children will remain with their parents during the entire service.  We will provide “fresh” individual clip boards with coloring pages and crayons at each service.
 
Will there be coffee and cookies and other treats after worship? 
We are a church that loves to eat! Unfortunately, we cannot serve coffee or cookies at this time. There will be no after-worship social gathering for the present time. 
 
Why are some churches waiting until later to regather in person?
Worship attendance, facility size and layout, congregational age and health demographics are different for every church. Each church must discern the appropriate approach given its circumstances. There is no “one size fits all” other than the essentials of the faith within the Church of Jesus Christ.
 
What about senior citizen attendance?
This is your choice.  Very clearly, the groups with highest risks for the most severe impact of COVID-19 are the elderly with fragile health and/or compromised systems. Also, at high risk are those of other ages with health issues or risk factors making them vulnerable. We are asked by the San Mateo County Health Officer to encourage this at-risk population to participate remotely via live stream.
 
What is the plan for the youth and children’s ministries?
Children and youth are welcome to attend worship and sit with their families. Masks are required for children 2 and older. Sunday morning and other midweek programs for children and youth will continue online until health officials indicate it is safe to resume in person gatherings for these age groups. For more information on all our current children and youth programs, please visit our website at www.FPCSM.org.
 
Will the campus be open for other activities during the week?
Our weekday activities will begin again on a case-by-case basis adhering to state and county guidelines. The Regathering Team will be consulting with the leaders of these individual groups to determine what works best for their participants. To stay up to date, see the weekly eNews or go to www.FPCSM.org
 
May my small group meet in person?
After much prayer and consideration, and in compliance with the current health orders, FPCSM is reopening small groups to meet in person. Each group may choose how it meets, whether in-person, via Zoom, or both. Because your safety is important to us, it is recommended that in-person groups be limited in size and group leaders will encourage members to follow applicable safety practices (e.g. handwashing, physical distancing, wearing a mask, no handshaking, staying home if sick). Groups can also continue to meet virtually.
 
The Regathering Team has devoted a great amount of time to prayer, discernment, discussion, research, planning and implementation. Our goal is to reintroduce in-person activity at FPCSM in a safe and responsible manner. We remain aware of the changing COVID-19 landscape and the need to be flexible as we move forward. As conditions change and affect our activities at FPCSM, we will update this information and keep our congregation informed. In all we do we seek to provide a safe environment for us to worship God and serve our community together.