COVID-19 UPDATES

Due to social distancing restrictions, we are not gathering together in the church building, but are still finding ways to gather together spiritually as the body of Christ.  At this time, we are expecting to not have activities in the building until we feel it is safe to do so. We will update this page as new guidelines are given.


July 22, 2020

Greetings:

Our Ruling Elders have approved updates to the Preliminary Reopening Plan.  These include:

    • Requiring small group organizers to email participant lists to the main office within 48 hours after a gathering for contact tracing.
    • Due to the possibility of aerosol transmission, no singing at small group gatherings.
    • Individuals can bring their own food or drinks to gatherings as long as it is not shared.
    • Additional guidance regarding exceptions to the plan and our non-church facility users.

Per Session, we are currently operating under Phase Two on the plan below.



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July 2, 2020

Dear Friends:

As we read through the Psalms together, we hold lament in one hand and praise in the other.  Amidst the regulations on daily life, the non-stop news, and the separation from others, we know grief too well.  At the same time, we find joy in connecting with each other across distances and finding new and creative ways to be the church.  As you navigate this time personally, we trust that you know the church continues to be here to support you.

On May 27, Session voted to form a Task Force charged with creating a recommended plan for the church during the pandemic.  Don Johnson, Valerie Emly, Anne Bennett, Kevin Engle, and John Asher agreed to serve, and devoted themselves to study, prayer, and seeking the Spirit in discerning a way forward for Shepherd during this time.  The Task Force reviewed plans and regulations from the government, the national PC(USA), neighboring presbyteries and faith communities, our insurance, and other resources.  The Task Force highly recommends watching the message below from PC(USA) Stated Clerk, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, especially if you are eager for us to gather again soon in-person.



The Task Force took these resources and created goals for the plan.  Here is a summary:

1) Promote the safety of the entire congregation.
2) Operate within the government’s regulations.
3) Provide an equal opportunity to worship.
The Task Force did not want to restrict worship participation by age or health conditions.
4) Avoid a “split” congregation.
If the pandemic continues, the congregation could become split if both in-person and Zoom worship are offered. We want to be together.
5) Weigh Costs and Benefits.
If planning and executing one activity leads to draining resources and time around other ministries, both options shall be weighed carefully regarding costs and benefits.

Using these goals as a guide, the Task Force created a plan based on the state’s phases.  For Phases Two and Three, the plan opens the option for small group of 15 or less to meet outside on church property.  For church sponsored activities at a member’s home, the limit is 10 people or less.  Face coverings and social distancing are required.  Now, if desired, bible study and fellowship groups can meet in-person.  We can also do in-person mission projects and book studies.  If a group chooses to meet in-person, we encourage you to provide a way for people to join remotely who wish to.  In addition, a plan is underway to form Sunday morning groups for worship and fellowship.  This plan has been approved by Session.

In-person worship is planned to restart in Phase Four.  At that time, for those who need to stay home, we plan on having a quality livestream online available.  The Task Force continues to work on a detailed plan for this phase.

This plan is subject to change, because for the foreseeable future COVID-19 will dictate our visions and our realities.  Session will vote to approve anytime we move between phases, it will not happen automatically.  We pledge to move promptly, thoughtfully, and faithfully as a church as we respond to how the pandemic evolves.

We thank you for your patience and willingness to embrace new methods of being the church during this time.  At no point has the church closed or Shepherd of the Hill stopped.  Together as the united Body of Christ, we will continue to love God, love our neighbors, and bring light to Puyallup and beyond.

The Session of Shepherd of the Hill, the Task Force, and Pastor John Asher

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June 7, 2020

Session has approved the following practices when we are on church property:

Social Distancing

1. At all times, all reasonable efforts should be made to maintain 6ft separation from people outside of one’s household.

Face Coverings

1. When on church property, a person must have a face covering on their person. Face coverings are provided to those who request them via the office ahead of time.

2. When inside the church facilities, the use of a face-covering is required.

3. When outside of church facilities (i.e. the parking lot), face coverings are not required if social distance can be maintained. If social distance cannot be maintained, face coverings should be used.

4. Those with medical conditions that make face coverings unsafe are exempted from face covering requirements.

When Leaving Facilities

1. Upon leaving the church facility, a sanitizing wipe should be used to clean high-touch surfaces that were used. These wipes will be provided.

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May 27, 2020

Greetings Shepherd of the Hill Family,

Blessings to you on this beautiful day!  In March, your church elders voted to follow the Stay at Home order issued by Governor Inslee.  This afternoon, the Governor released new guidelines for religious communities meeting in-person.  It's understandable that there will be a wide range of reactions to this news, as we all bring our own perspectives to this development.  It's important to note that the first line of the Governor's new guidance states "if possible, spiritual worship should continue to be done remotely or at a drive-in service."

The duty before us is to continue to discover how we should live out our calling as the church in this unique time with discernment and wisdom.  Your church elders have approved a plan to meet that challenge.  Earlier today, Session voted to create a Task Force charged with making recommendations to Session regarding our ministries, worship, and facility use in light of Covid-19.  This Task Force includes Don Johnson, Valerie Emly, Anne Bennett, Kevin Engle, and myself.

This group will be convening soon and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.  I ask that you pray for the Task Force and this evolving situation.  In doing so, I humbly request that you don't pray for a particular outcome.  Instead, let us pray for God's wisdom to reign in our hearts. Let us pray that we give grace to those with whom we disagree.  And perhaps most of all, let us pray for those who face the realities of the pandemic on a minute-to-minute basis.  For:

"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." - James 3:17

Thank you for caring about the church, the ministry, and our fellowship.  Grace and peace be with you,

John Asher, Pastor

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Mission and Ministry Continues:  Many have asked about ways to continue to give tithes and offerings to support the work of the church during this time.  You can mail checks to the church mailing address (PO Box 73426, Puyallup, WA 98373).  You can also make donations through the Venmo phone app or by going to www.venmo.com to send money electronically through their secure system.  Just use the treasurer's email account: sothtreasr@comcast.net and you can transfer money directly.  The church's account is set to maintain the anonymity of all donors.  Finally, you can contact Ken Emly at the treasurer's email listed above to set up direct deposit.

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