COVID-19 AND FEDERATED: UPDATES

September 8, 2021

COVID Precautions at Federated Church


In light of the dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations attributed to the Delta variant, Church Council requests that only vaccinated individuals attend worship.  Masks are strongly recommended for all those attending in-person worship, unless singing or speaking to the congregation. We will temporarily return to passing the peace from afar through eye contact, a wave or a verbal acknowledgement.  Online worship is here to stay and we invite everyone to enjoy our virtual service through YouTube. 


We will have In-Person outdoor Rally Day this coming Sunday, September 12 and will celebrate Mark Simone on September 18 and 19.  Directly following worship on September 26, we have a Congregational Meeting (in-person and via Zoom).  We hope to resume In-Person Fellowship Hour sometime in October and will continue to monitor the COVID situation and respond accordingly. 


Please contact Melissa Owen with any questions, concerns, suggestions.


With Gratitude,

Melissa Owen
Senior Director of People and Operations
mowen@fedchurch.org / 805.636.4256

July 7, 2021

Fully Open for In-Person Worship


Reminder:  Restrictions Lifted for Worship Starting Sunday, 7/11/2021


•    Unlimited Attendance (within Fire Code parameters, of course) 
•    No Registration
•    Masks: must be worn if not vaccinated, optional/recommended for everyone vaccinated attending a large indoor gathering
•    Registration for Sunday Worship:  None
•    Symbolic Communion will continue (Communion will not be passed)
•    Passing of the Peace:  Waving encouraged, handshaking discouraged; please consider not everyone is comfortable with more than a wave 
•    Offering will be collected as congregants leave the Sanctuary
•    Worship Ambassador Duties will shift to Extravagant Welcome and Grateful Goodbyes only (no checkin lists, masks, etc.)
•    Fellowship Hour will remain online; In-Person Fellowship Hour to resume following Rally Day in September


Our first Sunday of non-restricted Worship will be Sunday, July 11th.    The decision is based on Ohio repealing the mask rule on June 2,  giving us several weeks of solid data after the 14-day echelon.  


Thank you for your understanding and patience with each other - everyone will be coming back at their own pace and part of being open and affirming is supporting and respecting everyone’s comfort level.  Some will continue to wear masks and others will elect not to do so.  All are welcome!


With Gratitude,

Melissa Owen
Senior Director of People and Operations
mowen@fedchurch.org / 440.247.6490 ext. 110

June 25, 2021

Starting to Lift Restrictions


Hello Everyone!
 
Great News:  Following the fourth of July weekend, we are lifting most of the restrictions at Federated!   Here is what to expect:  
•    No limit on number of worshipers in Sanctuary / No limit on numbers for groups meeting inside church
•    Masks must be worn by those who are not vaccinated, optional but recommended for everyone vaccinated attending a large indoor gathering
•    No Registration for Sunday Worship
•    Symbolic Communion will continue (Communion will not be passed)
•    Passing of the Peace will occur, waving encouraged, handshaking discouraged; please consider not everyone is comfortable with more than a wave
•    Offering will continue as everyone leaves the Sanctuary
•    Worship Ambassador Duties will shift to Extravagant Welcome and Grateful Goodbyes only (no checking lists, masks, etc.) – Sign Up Weekly
•    Fellowship Hour will remain online; regular Fellowship Hour to resume following Rally Day
 Barring any changes to COVID spread in our area, we felt a responsible timeframe for lifting restrictions at Federated would be after the weekend of July 4th; first Sunday of non-restricted worship to be July 11th.  This benchmark is based on Ohio repealing the mask rule on June 2, giving us several weeks of solid data after the 14-day echelon.  We are currently at Week three of no masks and the case numbers continue to drop in our area.  Barring any changes to that data, beginning July 6th, we will lift our restrictions at Federated. 
 
Thank you for your understanding and patience with each other - everyone will be coming back at their own pace and part of being open and affirming is supporting and respecting everyone’s comfort level.  Some will continue to wear masks and others will elect not to do so.  All are welcome!
 
Please do reach out with any questions or concerns.
 
With Gratitude,

Melissa Owen
Senior Director of People and Operations
mowen@fedchurch.org / 440.247.6490 ext. 110

April 14, 2021

Reopening Plans


Hello to you all!


First, an enormous THANK YOU!  It has been a year of challenges and having your support and input has made me feel welcome and a part of wonderful Federated.  Okay, so now let’s reopen our building!  


Phase One: Groups of 10 or less for meetings/events will begin Monday April 26th. 

Phase Two: Groups of 25 or less for meetings and events will begin May 17th.

Phase Three:  Groups of 50 or less for meetings, events and Worship (Target date is June 7th).


This type of graduated approach provides a way to move forward quickly.   Some of us have been vaccinated for several months or weeks and have put the anxiety well behind, which is truly wonderful. However, many are just now receiving vaccinations and it is a 6-7 week process to reach immunity.  We also need to be cognizant of what is happening outside of our immediate community:  some are not so fortunate to have received vaccines; Ohio and surrounding states show increasing COVID numbers (CDC is urging a shutdown in Michigan).  It is also essential to consider the data.  Currently there is not enough data to determine to what extent the vaccine will protect and for how long, and if it provides protection from new variants.  We are hopeful that positive and concrete data will be coming soon.  For now, let’s move forward with each of us taking responsibility and continuing to protect one another as we come back together! 


All Phases:

  • Masks:  While inside the Church building, you must wear a mask covering both your nose and mouth.  Your mask must be worn at all times and must be worn whether or not you have been vaccinated.
  • Upon entering the church, sanitize your hands; no-touch dispensers will be available.
  • Keep to social distancing guidelines (currently 3-6 feet apart from others not living in your household).
  • Pre-registration will be required for all events 48 hours prior to the event
  • A sign-in sheet must be signed by everyone in attendance.
  • Beverages and Food will not be provided and shared food/drink should not be made available.
  • Groups will have designated lavatories to use near meeting rooms.


Phase 1:  Open to Small Groups of 10 or less – April 26

  • Groups will only be permitted Monday-Friday before 5PM.
  • Groups must meet in Fellowship Hall, one group per day, and must schedule at least 48 hours in advance through Melinda Smith at smithm@fedchurch.org  (preferred) or call (440) 247-6490 ext 111.
  • Groups must use designated lavatories.
  • Please leave any correspondence, packages, etc. at the Reception/Angel Desk.
  • Tables and chairs will be setup in advance and groups will be responsible for putting their trash in the trash receptacles. Staff will not be available to assist during meetings/events. If anything other than tables and chairs is needed, please request 48 hours in advance.


Phase 2:  Open to Larger Groups of 25 or less – May 17th

  • Groups will only be permitted Monday-Friday before 5PM (evening hours TBD as we near Phase 2).
  • Groups may meet in Fellowship Hall or the Lounge, one group per day per room and must schedule  at least 48 hours in advance through Melinda Smith at smithm@fedchurch.org  (preferred) or call (440) 247-6490 ext 111.
  • Groups must use designated lavatories.
  • Please leave any correspondence, packages, etc. at the Reception/Angel Desk.
  • Tables and chairs will be setup in advance and groups will be responsible for putting their trash in the trash receptacles. Staff will not be available to assist during meetings/events. If anything other than tables and chairs is needed, please request 48 hours in advance.


Phase 3:  Open to Larger Groups - 50 or less - AND Open for In-Person Worship (limit of 50 people). The TARGET DATE is June 7!  

Details to follow.


I also want to make sure everyone knows: 

  • Online worship will continue indefinitely!
  • Our commissions and committees are working together to ensure you are properly welcomed back for Worship. If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact me directly at mowen@fedchurch.org or call my cell (805) 636-4256.


As new information becomes available, we are prepared to relax restrictions or, if necessary, to provide new restrictions.  Our goal is to open the church and do so safely, quickly and permanently. 


With Joy,

Melissa Owen

Director of People and Operations


December 16, 2020

Federated Church Buildings Will Remain Closed Through Easter


2020 was a year of challenges, a year of making accommodations, adjustments and we have had to dig deep, to call upon our inner strength and develop new ways to commune and connect.  Though we all want to gather and worship together, it is not safe to do so at this time and so our Federated building will remain closed to in-person, indoor activities.  We are using ‘through Easter’ as a benchmark for the closure, fully prepared to evaluate and adapt as conditions change.


Though we see hope on the horizon, case numbers and hospitalizations remain on the rise.  Building closure is the most assured way to keep our members and guests safe. We maintain that the health of our congregation and community is still the most important consideration, especially for so many in our church who are at high risk.


Our leadership will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines and local COVID-19 conditions from the county boards of health, the state of Ohio, and the CDC. We will continue to consult with medical and public health officials and rely on the scientific understanding of this virus to make decisions going forward.


In the meantime, and most importantly, we will continue to work diligently, creating new opportunities for spiritual growth, learning, reflection, worship, and connection with each other.  Be open to new ideas and technologies and above all, please communicate your needs and share ways you would like to connect.  Working together and being in service to one another is what makes us a strong and united community.  


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 


We thank you for your feedback and thoughts about what we can do to enhance the Federated Community and continue to thrive. 


God Bless You,

Beth Rutkowski, Moderator

Hamilton Throckmorton, Senior Pastor

Melissa Owen, Senior Director of People and Operations


August  17, 2020

Federated Church Will Remain Closed Through 2020


During these difficult and unprecedented times, we all find ourselves having to make difficult and unprecedented decisions.  As such, The Federated Church will remain closed to in-person, indoor activities through the end of the calendar year.  This decision did not come lightly or without considerable thought and discussion by the church’s lay leadership, clergy, and staff.  But it is the most prudent decision for a myriad of reasons.
 
For Health & Safety reasons, closure remains the most assured way to keep our members and guests safe from spreading and catching COVID-19.  Since we first made the decision in March to refrain from gathering, the conditions of the pandemic have not changed: contagion and outbreaks are still widespread, cases and deaths continue to rise, and testing, treatments, and preventative measures have not progressed significantly.  We maintain that the health of our congregation and community is still the most important consideration, especially for so many in our church who are at high risk.
 
For Operational reasons, the re-opening of our facility would be multi-layered and complicated. It would involve monitoring all attendees for health conditions, requiring/providing personal PPEs, pre-registration to allow for contact tracing, and levying heavy restrictions on the number of attendees, as well as restrictions on distancing and contact behavior between attendees. Some of the things we miss most, like visiting and sitting with friends, chatting before and after the service, singing, and taking communion together would not be allowed at all. We have seen many churches decide to reopen only to have to shut down almost immediately.
 
For Spiritual reasons, we believe it is our duty as good citizens of our community and our world to do everything in our power to help stop the spread of this world-wide pandemic that has already taken the lives of hundreds of thousands. God calls us to be “the light of the world… so that others may see our good works and give glory to God.” (paraphrased Matthew 5: 14,16) We want to be leaders in our community setting the example for how to be responsible and loving to each other and the earth.
 
Our leadership will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines and local COVID-19 conditions from the county boards of health, the state of Ohio, and the CDC.  We will continue to consult with medical and public health officials and rely on the scientific understanding of this virus to make decisions going forward.
 
In the meantime, and most importantly, we will work diligently to find new and creative opportunities for spiritual growth, learning, reflection, worship, and connection with each other. Please be open to new ideas and technologies that can make this possible and if you’re inclined to offer suggestions of ways you would like to connect, don’t hesitate to provide them. 
 
We hope you understand what is at the heart of this decision and thank you for your support.
 
God bless you,
 
Beth Rutkowski, Moderator
Hamilton Throckmorton, Senior Pastor
Melissa Owen, Senior Director of People and Operations

May 27, 2020


Church leadership has extended the closure period for all in-person activity at Bell Street facility through September 6.  This, of course, brings with it a continued sense of loss for all of us: how we would love to gather again to worship, to connect, to learn, to serve.


There is, however, nothing more important than the health of the congregation. It is vital we take no chances with the health and welfare of the people of the church. This decision is made with caritas—the old Latin word for love—at the center.  Our commitment to the membership of the congregation is paramount. Gathering in person still poses too great a risk of passing the virus.


Knowing this, church leadership is working on numerous levels to connect the congregation virtually and through phone outreach. We continue to do vital, life-giving ministry and enhance this marvelous community. Please join us as you see new opportunities to form community, to grow in faith, and to care for the larger world. Leadership is also grateful for the ongoing financial commitments made by church members and friends. As we were reminded in worship on May 24, faith, hope, and love have not been canceled. We are blessed to be a blessing!


May 12, 2020


Federated will be extending the building closure through June 28. All in-person worship services, events, meetings, and gatherings are canceled until then.  In-person worship services have been cancelled through Sunday, June 28.  Worship services will be available via online streaming at our YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/TheFederatedChurch. Tune in Sundays at 10 am, or watch the playback at anytime later in the week. 


Dates are tentative and subject to change, as we continue to follow the national and state guidelines.  Watch your emails for updates every Thursday. If you do not get our weekly eblast, contact Melinda Smith at smithm@fedchurch.org. Staff members are continuing to work remotely.


April 21, 2020

 

Federated will be extending the building closure through May 31. All in-person worship services, events, meetings, and gatherings are canceled until then.  In-person worship services have been cancelled through Sunday, May 31.  Worship services will be available via online streaming at our YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/TheFederatedChurch. Tune in Sundays at 10 am, or watch the playback at anytime later in the week. 

 

Dates are tentative and subject to change, as we continue to follow the national and state guidelines.  Watch your emails for updates every Thursday. If you do not get our weekly eblast, contact Melinda Smith at smithm@fedchurch.org. Staff members are continuing to work remotely.

 

March 31, 2020


Federated will be extending the building closure through May 1 following the recommendation put in place by the President, which states to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. All in-person worship services, events, meetings, and gatherings are canceled until then. We plan to re-open the building on Monday, May 4. 


In-person worship services have been cancelled through Sunday, May 3.  Worship services will be available via online streaming at our YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/TheFederatedChurch. Tune in Sundays at 10 am. We will plan to resume worship on Sunday, May 10.


This is subject to change, as we continue to follow the national and state guidelines.  Watch your emails for updates every Thursday. If you do not get our weekly eblast, contact Melinda Smith at smithm@fedchurch.org. Staff members are continuing to work remotely and will get all emails and voicemails from home.


Hamilton will be postponing his sabbatical indefinitely, to be with the church during this time.


Please forward prayer requests to Kiersti Critchfield kcritchfield@fedchurch.org or 440.247.6490 x103. Our Pastoral Care Team and our Prayer and Praise Team will pray for your requests.


March 19, 2020


Federated will be closing buildings to the public from Wednesday, March 19 until Tuesday, April 14. All in-person worship services, events, meetings, and gatherings are canceled until then.   


In-person worship services have been cancelled through Easter Sunday, April 12.  Worship services will be available via online streaming at our YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/TheFederatedChurch. Tune in Sundays at 10 am. 


Staff members are working remotely and will get all emails and voicemails from home. 



March 13, 2020


Dear beloved Federated family,

I write to let you know that, after much consultation, deliberation, and discernment, church leadership has decided to cancel both of our planned worship services for this Sunday, March 15, and for the remaining Sundays in March.  As time goes on, we will evaluate how to proceed beyond March. For the time being, we still welcome commissions, committees, and groups to meet in the building, knowing that many groups may decide to suspend their meetings temporarily, and urging those who do continue to meet in person to maintain appropriate social distancing.

It is with a heavy heart that we suspend worship, but also with the deep conviction that it is right and necessary. These last few days have seen an enormous change in the way we view COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has now been declared by the World Health Organization to be a global pandemic. As I write, cancellations from nearly every walk of life are pouring in. The Cleveland Orchestra cancelled its weekend concerts as well as its upcoming tour; the NBA, NHL, and Major League Baseball have all called a halt to their games; the NCAA has cancelled all college sports for the rest of this winter and the coming spring; the Cleveland International Film Festival has called off its program; many colleges have sent students home and shifted to online classes; and Ohio schools, public and private, have been shuttered for the next three weeks.

On Thursday, I watched the press conference of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. He carefully acknowledged that the First Amendment grants religious institutions the freedom to make their own decisions. At the same time, though, he eloquently reminded us that our first responsibility is to honor each other and to keep each other safe. Many of our fellow citizens are undoubtedly carriers for the virus. Larger-scale gatherings are potential breeding grounds for COVID-19. In an attempt not to overwhelm our health-care facilities, authorities are urging us to do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus. One of the great keys to limiting the spread of the virus is “social distancing”—providing physical space for people and minimizing the contact we have with each other. As a church that takes its responsibility to the common good enormously seriously, we feel it is incumbent on us to stem the possibilities for sharing the virus and inadvertently contributing to the worsening of the pandemic.

Even without being able to worship in person, it is vital that we continue to give ourselves into the hands of God and to look for God’s direction and sustenance during this crisis. In that vein, I will be recording a meditation to be uploaded to Federated’s website for this weekend. We will hear scripture and be directed to keep our eyes and hearts on God. That meditation will be made available by Saturday afternoon on the sermon blog of the church’s website (https://fedchurch.org/blog/). In addition, for those who would like to keep up with their financial pledges, remember that online giving is available on the website (https://fedchurch.org/giving/). You may contact Janis Stefanchik at business@fedchurch.org for help.

Even with these cancellations, it’s crucial to remember that we are still and always a rich and caring community of Christ’s people. God is holding us close even, and we would say especially, when contagion and fear and panic strike. We are people who are bathed in grace.

Not only that, but, as servants of God, we might always be asking ourselves: Where are there needs in the church family that we might meet? How can we connect with and support each other during this period when we won’t be gathering as a congregation?

In all this, let me remind you that I hold you in my heart. And God holds you in the divine heart. And finally, we live with the unshakable conviction that, as Julian of Norwich so simply and eloquently put it, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

May God’s blessings abound and give you a deep sense of peace.

Yours in grace and peace,
Hamilton Throckmorton