In-person Attendance Protocols

Plymouth Church Worship Protocols & Safe Practices

as of November 12, 2021

  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. Only Door #1 will be open on Sunday mornings. Please plan to park in the main church lot or at Park Nicollet. When you arrive, you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case up to seven days following Sunday morning.
  • If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result (even if you are asymptomatic!) within 7 days of participating in a church activity: worship, small group, meeting, etc. please contact me (BethF@plymouth.org or 612-977-1286). Your name will be held in confidence, but we must alert others of a possible exposure.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated, and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. Vaccinations have begun for our children under 12, but in the meantime, we do not want to exclude children from worship and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We can not emphasize enough the importance of vaccination as the most effective way to protect you, your loved ones, and our community at large. Even in the youngest age groups, it is remarkably effective in preventing the serious consequences of COVID-19.
  • We require face masks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • The sanctuary will be open at 8:45 a.m. for 9:00 a.m. worship and 10:45 a.m. for 11:00 a.m. worship. If you arrive at church earlier than this, you will be asked to wait in Guild Hall.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed; rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially there will be no coffee fellowship. And only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, forcing all of us into quarantine at the same time.
  • While we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.
  • Please stay tuned as protocol may need to change based on circumstances.

May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

COVID-19 Updates

Coronavirus upates

Update on Worship and Covid-19 as of December 31, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

On this cusp of a New Year I believe we are all looking towards 2022 anticipating hope and healing. As we reflect on the difficulties and loss associated with 2021 I pray we also celebrate the joy found in the creative way we were church together. The pandemic is teaching us much about resilience and also about the need to care for and support one another even when we cannot be together. Plymouth has strived mightily to accomplish this, and I give thanks for each one of you and the gifts you bring to our collective endeavor.

Because of the current COVID situation in Hennepin County and the wider community, and due to the way COVID is affecting our staff, we will be livestreaming worship only on January 2. The sanctuary will not be open to the congregation. Thank you for your understanding and enjoy worship from your home at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. via Facebook or YouTube. Recordings of both services will be posted later on Sunday for your viewing as well. There will be NO Sundays at 5 service this Sunday, January 2.

Due to confirmed information, all present for any of the Christmas Eve services on December 24 were potentially exposed to Covid-19. If you were in attendance at any of our Christmas Eve services, please read the Covid Exposure Notification here.

Exposure Notification

Friends, this is my last correspondence with you for 2021. As we move through this uncertain time, I am grateful for our church and the grounding a spiritual community provides. One of my favorite prayers is actually a good mantra… I encourage you to pray this with me in the New Year: “I do not know what the future holds, yet I know God holds the future.” Indeed, may it be so.

May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings and love to you, dear ones.

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 23, 2021

Dear friends,

One day can make a tremendous difference. Yesterday I wrote you with an update regarding virtual worship on December 26 and that staff will be working remotely for two weeks following Christmas as a way to mitigate the current impact of the virus on staff and church function. Today my oldest daughter, home for the holidays since Monday, tested positive for Covid-19. Following our policy and procedures, I will not be present for Christmas Eve worship or the Sundays following. My heart aches with sadness over this, yet it is the reality we are living in – our church family has been greatly affected by this virus in the last few weeks. My situation is not the only one we must now navigate. Today a key staff member tested positive for Covid-19 and I was notified that someone attending the 11 a.m. worship service on December 19 tested positive, creating a potential exposure for all those in attendance.

If you were at church for worship at 11 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, please follow these guidelines:

Exposure Notification

At this time, there is no change to our plan for in-person worship services on Christmas Eve at 5, 8, and 11 p.m. All worship protocols apply. Please wear a mask and socially distance. You must sign in upon entering the building. Only Door 1 will be open. If you are at all feeling unwell, please stay home. And if you test positive within seven days of being present at church, please notify me via email (bethf@plymouth.org) or phone (612.977.1286)

Blessings to you this Christmas, beloved community. My family will be watching the livestream worship and holding you all in prayer as we welcome the most necessary Light of the World once again. I welcome your prayers for my daughter’s complete recovery and for the rest of us to stay well, for our church staff who are ill, recuperating, or quarantining, and for the burden of more work on our already taxed clergy and staff to lessen in the days to come.

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 22, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

Our Advent season of illumination and discovery concludes in just two days on Christmas Eve. We invite you to gather in person for worship at 5, 8, or 11 p.m. on December 24, when we will remember together the story of Love Incarnate and celebrate the Light of the World through carols and candles. It will be good to be together on this holy night, and yet we know many will choose not to attend, practicing caution because of Covid or perhaps having to quarantine because of illness or exposure. Therefore each of our Christmas Eve services will be livestreamed so we can be inclusive in community, scattered yet gathered.

While we are determined to have Christmas Eve services in person, the path has been fraught with difficulty. The Covid Advisory Group has carefully watched as cases in Hennepin County continue at a high rate, and positive test percentage has exceeded our comfort level. We know COVID-19 has impacted many of our church members and their families, and in the last week has also affected several of our church staff and their families. During one of the busiest times of the year, we are not able to operate at full staff capacity, which has created additional obstacles in church function.

In order to mitigate exposure risk for the congregation and to navigate the complications of a compromised staff, the Covid Advisory Group, along with the Executive Team (clergy and our Director of Operations), directed two recommendations to the Deacons for consideration: that we livestream only (no congregation present) worship on December 26 and that beginning December 25 the church offices close for two weeks and staff work remotely. The Deacons have approved these proposals. Staff will be available via email and phone from December 25 through January 9, but the offices will be closed. There has not been a decision yet regarding worship on January 2 and 9, but December 26 will be livestream only. I will communicate next week about upcoming Sunday worship.

The beacons of Advent are hope, peace, joy and love . . . and now more than ever we need these spiritual touchstones to mark our path and lead our way. On Friday, we welcome God’s promise in the form of a vulnerable baby. Let us cultivate with tenderness all that the Christ child represents: unconditional love, mercy, right relationship, justice, peace. May we take good care of ourselves and one another by living unselfishly, with both understanding and joy.

A blessed Christmas to you, beloved community.

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 22, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

Our Advent season of illumination and discovery concludes in just two days on Christmas Eve. We invite you to gather in person for worship at 5, 8, or 11 p.m. on December 24, when we will remember together the story of Love Incarnate and celebrate the Light of the World through carols and candles. It will be good to be together on this holy night, and yet we know many will choose not to attend, practicing caution because of Covid or perhaps having to quarantine because of illness or exposure. Therefore each of our Christmas Eve services will be livestreamed so we can be inclusive in community, scattered yet gathered.

While we are determined to have Christmas Eve services in person, the path has been fraught with difficulty. The Covid Advisory Group has carefully watched as cases in Hennepin County continue at a high rate, and positive test percentage has exceeded our comfort level. We know COVID-19 has impacted many of our church members and their families, and in the last week has also affected several of our church staff and their families. During one of the busiest times of the year, we are not able to operate at full staff capacity, which has created additional obstacles in church function.

In order to mitigate exposure risk for the congregation and to navigate the complications of a compromised staff, the Covid Advisory Group, along with the Executive Team (clergy and our Director of Operations), directed two recommendations to the Deacons for consideration: that we livestream only (no congregation present) worship on December 26 and that beginning December 25 the church offices close for two weeks and staff work remotely. The Deacons have approved these proposals. Staff will be available via email and phone from December 25 through January 9, but the offices will be closed. There has not been a decision yet regarding worship on January 2 and 9, but December 26 will be livestream only. I will communicate next week about upcoming Sunday worship.

The beacons of Advent are hope, peace, joy and love . . . and now more than ever we need these spiritual touchstones to mark our path and lead our way. On Friday, we welcome God’s promise in the form of a vulnerable baby. Let us cultivate with tenderness all that the Christ child represents: unconditional love, mercy, right relationship, justice, peace. May we take good care of ourselves and one another by living unselfishly, with both understanding and joy.

A blessed Christmas to you, beloved community.

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 17, 2021

Dear Friends,

While the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota is concerning, at this time, we are not making any changes to worship protocol. Guidelines for in-person worship can be found here:
In-person Attendance Protocols

My comments from last week still apply: Given current rates of community transmission and the contagiousness of Delta, we cannot assume that masks and social distancing provide adequate protection from the virus, even if you are vaccinated. This is particularly true of indoor gatherings of large groups of people.

Beloved Community, please be prayerful about what is best for you and your family in this time as you consider gathering in groups. Please do not attend worship or any church function if you are not feeling well. Please do contact me if you test positive for COVID-19 within 7 days of any kind of church participation. Please be mindful that, while vaccination is our best protective measure, the number of vaccinated persons who are testing positive is increasing, and even if symptoms are mild or non-existent one can spread this virus to another. This pandemic is a great reminder that what we do not only impacts us but can have deadly consequences for others.

Even as pandemic frustration and fears hold sway, let us endeavor to stay centered in the touchstones of Advent: hope, peace, joy, and love. Let us find creative and connective ways to live into these beautiful, life-giving words as we give thanks for our life together in a scattered yet gathered congregation. Indeed, may we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 10, 2021

Dear Friends,

The COVID-19 situation in Minnesota is not improving, and the statistics that the Covid Advisory Group closely watches are worsening. At this time, we are not making any changes to worship protocol. Guidelines for in-person worship can be found here:

In-person Attendance Protocols

Given current rates of community transmission and the contagiousness of Delta, we cannot assume that masks and social distancing provide adequate protection from the virus, even if you are vaccinated. This is particularly true of indoor gatherings of large groups of people. Beloved Community, please be prayerful about what is best for you and your family in this time as you consider gathering in groups. Please do not attend worship or any church function if you are not feeling well. Please do contact me if you test positive for COVID-19 within 7 days of any kind of church participation. Please be mindful that, while vaccination is our best protective measure, the number of vaccinated persons who are testing positive is increasing, and even if symptoms are mild or non-existent one can spread this virus to another. This pandemic is a great reminder that what we do not only impacts us but can have deadly consequences for others.

I shared this blessing at Evensong last Sunday. I offer it to you to both soothe and encourage as we face the future with faith:

The touchstones of Advent are hope, peace, joy, love.
Let us be Advent people.
Share hope by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear.
Share joy by seeing the good in each other.
Share love by praying for our world.
May we be patient in our waiting, expectant for what is to arrive.
Amen.

Let us be faithful in community,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of December 3, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

A blessed Advent to you! In these days, may we live with expectant hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. What meaning are you making in this sacred time?

I look forward to the week when I write to you all with good news about the pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases continue to be present in Minnesota in an alarming way. And now the Omicron variant becomes a factor in our area, too. The Covid Advisory Group is watching the statistics closely and will advise leadership each week regarding the status of in-person activities if the numbers continue to climb. Right now, we are especially attuned to the Hennepin County positive test rate (which today was 8.3%), as well as the weekly number of positive cases per 100,000 people (today was 355). If these numbers increase, we will need to make decisions that may impact in-person worship services.

This week, however, we will gather for worship in person and via livestream. Worship protocol can be found here:
In-person Attendance Protocols
I will lovingly remind you that if you test positive for COVID-19 in the seven days following your presence at worship or any church gathering, you must contact me at BethF@plymouth.org or 612-977-1286. Your name will not be shared, yet we must inform others of a possible exposure. Thank you for your understanding.

The touchstones of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love. Let us be centered in these tenets even as pandemic frustration escalates. Let us find creative and connective ways to live into these beautiful, life-giving words as we give thanks for our life together in a scattered yet gathered congregation. Indeed, may we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


Update on Worship and COVID-19 as of November 24, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

This week brings yet another holiday in the midst of a pandemic. I pray that, however you observe Thanksgiving, you will know the love and grace of God. For many, difficult choices around the safety of gathering must be made, and I know how heart-rending it is to not be with loved ones on special days. Even so, I invite you to join me in an acknowledgment of gratitude for the blessings in our lives that even a pandemic can not steal. For the gifts of life and breath and community and the binding presence of the Spirit, let us be thankful.

Our COVID-19 protocol for worship remains unchanged, and information about what to expect when you come to church can be found here.
In-person Attendance Protocols
Friends, please be safe and stay well in the days to come. I am so thankful for you who make Plymouth Church a spirit-filled, loving place—whether scattered or gathered. Whatever your holiday brings, I will be holding you in prayer that you might indeed know how much you are loved.

May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


November 19, 2021

Dear friends,

We have had our first notification of an individual testing positive for COVID-19, one who was present at the First Service (9 a.m.) on November 14. All those who registered upon arrival to the church for the 9 a.m. service were informed of this via email. While we feel there is little risk of exposure to those attending the 11 a.m. service on November 14, our community will be made aware whenever there is a potential risk. Here is a copy of the notification.

Contact tracing remains essential in the church’s COVID-19 protocol. Whenever you enter the church building—for worship, a meeting, or any other gathering—please make sure you sign in.

At this time we will continue with in-person worship even though the pandemic situation in Minnesota remains critical. Our hospitals are at capacity and people who need emergency care are being turned away because there are no hospital beds available. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.

Our protocol for worship remains the same, and you can find all our safe practices below. If you have not yet attended worship, I ask that you please read the protocol before arriving at the building.

  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. Only Door #1 will be open on Sunday mornings. Please plan to park in the main church lot or at Park Nicollet. When you arrive you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case up to seven days following Sunday morning.
  • If you receive a positive Covid-19 test result (even if you are asymptomatic!) within 7 days of participating in a church activity: worship, small group, meeting, etc. please contact me. (BethF@plymouth.org or 612-977-1286) Your name will be held in confidence but we must alert others of a possible exposure.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. Vaccinations have begun for our children under 12 but in the meantime, we do not want to exclude children from worship and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We can not emphasize enough the importance of vaccination as the most effective way to protect you, your loved ones, and our community at large. Even in the youngest age groups it is remarkably effective in preventing the serious consequences of COVID-19.
  • We require facemasks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • The sanctuary will be open at 8:45 am for 9:00 am worship and 10:45 am for 11:00 am worship. If you arrive at church earlier than this you will be asked to wait in Guild Hall.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed, rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially there will be no coffee fellowship. And only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, forcing all of us into quarantine at the same time.
  • While we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.
  • Please stay tuned as protocol may need to change based on circumstances.

Even in the midst of pandemic calamities and complexities, I pray we can be rooted in gratitude. As we enter Thanksgiving week, I invite you to join me in being especially mindful of the multitude of blessings within our community: the way we care for and nurture one another; the power of prayer, which provides necessary balm for those in need; the joy we know through our delight in one another. I am so thankful for you who make Plymouth Church a spirit-filled, loving place—whether scattered or gathered. Whatever your holiday brings, I will be holding you in prayer that you might indeed know how much you are loved.

May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


November 12, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

It was a blessing to see many of you last Sunday. And it is understandable that even more of you are waiting to return. Daily new cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota are startingly high. While we will continue to gather in the sanctuary for worship for now, please adhere to following protocols as we come together. We have made some very slight adjustments following last week:

  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. Only Door #1 will be open on Sunday mornings. Please plan to park in the main church lot or at Park Nicollet. When you arrive, you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case up to seven days following Sunday morning.
  • If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result (even if you are asymptomatic!) within 7 days of participating in a church activity: worship, small group, meeting, etc. please contact me (BethF@plymouth.org or 612-977-1286). Your name will be held in confidence, but we must alert others of a possible exposure.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated, and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. Vaccinations have begun for our children under 12, but in the meantime, we do not want to exclude children from worship and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We can not emphasize enough the importance of vaccination as the most effective way to protect you, your loved ones, and our community at large. Even in the youngest age groups, it is remarkably effective in preventing the serious consequences of COVID-19.
  • We require face masks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • The sanctuary will be open at 8:45 a.m. for 9:00 a.m. worship and 10:45 a.m. for 11:00 a.m. worship. If you arrive at church earlier than this, you will be asked to wait in Guild Hall.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed; rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially there will be no coffee fellowship. And only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, forcing all of us into quarantine at the same time.
  • While we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.
  • Please stay tuned as protocol may need to change based on circumstances.

I will continue my weekly correspondence as we move into this new season of church life together, alerting you of any necessary changes in procedure or other important updates. I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


November 5, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

November 7 is the first time in 20 months that we will gather in the sanctuary on a Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. for worship. I pray this humbling realization brings you both joy and gratitude. I know that many in our community believe this is long overdue, while others are not ready to return to a large group gathering. Let us lean into the Spirit to bind us together so, whether scattered or gathered, we remain united in love and hope.

Here is some important information regarding worship in the sanctuary, beginning November 7:

  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. Only Doors #1 (Jones Commons) and #3 (Nicollet Entrance) will be open on Sunday mornings. When you arrive, you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case up to seven days following Sunday morning.
  • If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, even if you are asymptomatic, within 7 days of participating in a church activity—worship, small group, meeting, etc.—please contact me. (BethF@plymouth.org or 612-977-1286) Your name will be held in confidence but we must alert others of possible exposure.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination documentation. Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated, and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. Vaccinations have begun for our children under 12, but in the meantime, we do not want to exclude children from worship, and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We require face masks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • The sanctuary will be open at 8:45 a.m. for 9 a.m. worship and 10:45 a.m. for 11 a.m. worship. If you arrive at church earlier than this, you will be asked to wait in Guild Hall.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed, rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially, there will be no coffee fellowship. Only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, forcing all of us into quarantine at the same time.
  • And while we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.
  • Please be aware and stay tuned as protocol may need to change based on circumstances.

There is great anticipation in our coming together for worship in the sanctuary, and there is some trepidation. Please know that both services will be livestreamed each week, so if you are not yet ready to join us in person, you are still a valued, included member of this community.

I will continue my weekly correspondence as we move into this new season of church life together, alerting you to any necessary changes in procedure or other important updates. I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


October 29, 2021

Dear friends,
It is a relief to see the number of daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Minnesota continue to decline. While these numbers are still higher than any of us would like (hovering between 1700-2200/day), I pray that daily cases continue to drop as we prepare for in-person worship beginning November 7. This Sunday, October 31 is our last worship service Under the Big Top at 9 a.m. Worship from the sanctuary will be livestreamed at 11 a.m.
Here is some important information regarding worship in the sanctuary, beginning November 7:
  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. Only Doors #1 and #3 will be open on Sunday mornings. When you arrive you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case up to seven days following.
  • If you receive a positive Covid-19 test result (even if you are asymptomatic) within 7 days of participating in a church activity: worship, small group, meeting, etc. please contact me. Your name will be held in confidence but we must alert others of possible exposure.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination documentation. Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. It does look promising for our children under 12 to have access to a vaccine soon but in the meantime, we do not want to exclude children from worship and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We require facemasks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • The sanctuary will be open at 8:45 a.m. for 9 a.m. worship and 10:45 a.m. for 11 a.m. worship. If you arrive at church earlier than this, you will be asked to wait in Guild Hall.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed, rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially, there will be no coffee fellowship. Only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, forcing all of us into quarantine at the same time.
  • Please be aware and stay tuned as protocols may need to change based on circumstances.
We welcome small groups, boards, and committees to meet inside the church at this time, providing there is available safe space. Please reserve a room here.
There is great anticipation in our coming together for worship in the sanctuary, and there is some trepidation. Please know that both services will be livestreamed each week, so if you are not yet ready to join us in person you are still a valued, included member of this community. And while we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent the spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.
Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.
Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

October 22, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

Finally, we are seeing a decline in the number of confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 across Minnesota, in all age groups. This is such good news as we prepare to open the sanctuary for both worship services on November 7. Until then we will worship Under the Big Top at 9 a.m. (Bundle up! Blankets will be available.), and our 11 a.m. worship service will be livestreamed from the sanctuary.

My next three letters to you will outline some protocols beginning November 7 for our Sunday morning gatherings:

  • There will be no pre-registration for attending worship. When you arrive you will be asked to sign in. This is so we can alert you if we learn that someone in attendance develops a positive Covid case in the seven days following.
  • We will not be requiring vaccination documentation. Rather, we ask that all adults planning to be present for worship be vaccinated, and we trust that you will be thoughtful in the decision to attend. While we remain hopeful that our children under 12 will have access to a vaccination soon, we do not want to exclude children from worship, and we hope families will attend Sunday morning church activities. We require facemasks for everyone in all parts of the building on Sunday morning (and all other days).
  • We ask that you maintain a social distance, to the best of your ability, inside the sanctuary. Family groups are of course welcomed to sit together. Some pews will be roped off to encourage distancing.
  • While it will be a blessing to be together in person inside the sanctuary, the experience of worship will be different. Offering plates will not be passed; rather there will be depositories for the collection of giving envelopes. We will not yet celebrate communion. Initially, there will be no coffee fellowship. And only two of the three clergy will be present each Sunday because all three of us cannot risk exposure together, which would force all of us into quarantine at the same time.

We welcome small groups, boards and committees to meet inside the church at this time, providing there is available safe space. Please request a room here.

There is great anticipation in our coming together for worship in the sanctuary, and there is some trepidation. Please know that both services will be livestreamed each week, so if you are not yet ready to join us in person, you are still a valued, included member of this community. And while we are taking seriously all precautions to prevent spread of infection, we cannot eliminate all risk. If you are feeling at all unwell, please stay home and take good care.

Friends, as we move into a new phase of life during a pandemic, let us do so with much grace and patience. Let us trust in the Holy Spirit to fill in the spaces between us and bind us together in beloved community – whether together or apart. Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


October 15, 2021

Dear friends,

New cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota have dropped very slightly in the last week, eliciting some hope that we are near a peak in Delta variant cases. There is still grave concern about the number of cases in our age 5–12 demographic.

We are proceeding, albeit cautiously, with plans to hold worship in the sanctuary beginning November 7. The Covid Advisory Group is deep in the process of developing policies and protocol so as to best protect you as we come together, to mitigate exposure risk, and to manage our response when positive cases arise. Beginning with next week’s correspondence, I will outline all that you need to know as we return to the sanctuary for worship and to other parts of the building to practice church life together.

Small groups, boards, and committees are welcome to meet in the building provided there is adequate space available. Masks must be worn at all times in the church building. Please this form to request a room.

While I long to be with you in person, celebrating together all the rites of the church, I also must prepare you that it will feel different than it did pre-pandemic. There are precautions necessary for our safekeeping and practices that may feel unfamiliar. I pray for your patience and your cooperation, and I also understand that many may choose not to come inside to worship as a way to protect themselves and others. This is why our virtual offerings will continue: Both worship services on Sunday morning will be livestreamed. There will be joy in our coming together, and we remain bonded through the Spirit whether we are in person or not. One of many lessons this pandemic has taught us is that creative connection can be found and experienced even when we do not see one another. This is what will hold us together in the months to come.

Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth

Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


October 8, 2021
Dear friends,
My note this week will be brief. While we hoped that the COVID situation in Minnesota would follow other states experiencing decline, it is not yet so. Average daily new cases in this last week have risen above 3,000 per day, with a sharp incline in cases amongst those ages 5–14. And while many children are able to tolerate this illness with full recovery, it should alarm us that the pediatric ICUs in the state have no available beds and that children are dying from COVID-19. Please join me in praying “God, in your mercy, protect those most vulnerable from this insidious disease.”
I encourage you to be thoughtful in your gatherings and activities, considering not only what is safe for yourself but also for others. We are proceeding cautiously in our plans for the re-opening of the sanctuary for Sunday morning worship on November 7. In the coming weeks, I will discuss some practices we will employ to keep everyone as safe as possible in this endeavor. Worship at 9 a.m. Under the Big Top continues through October 31, and we livestream the 11 a.m. service from the sanctuary each Sunday. Boards, committees, and other groups may meet at the church, inside or outside, depending on the availability of safe spaces. Please use this form to request a meeting room.
Beloved community, I know we are tired of the ways this pandemic has disrupted our rituals and routines, especially at church. May the Spirit that binds us together infuse us daily with creative ways to be community, with a willingness to care for one another deeply—even at a distance—and with a patience that may have to exceed understanding.
Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings, 

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth 

Minister for Congregational Care and Worship 


October 1, 2021

Dear friends, 

Blessings to you on this first day of October, a favorite month for many of us in Minnesota. As we take in the glory of the creation’s spectacular color, I pray our weary spirits be renewed. 

The COVID-19 situation in Minnesota is not improving. Daily new cases average over 2,300. Particularly distressing is the significant increase in cases in this last week amongst our children ages 10–14. Many of our schools are in “outbreak status,” which means there are five or more active cases reported to the facility. Schools vary in their management of COVID-19 protocol. I am holding our church families in constant prayer as I worry for my own daughter’s safety in her high school. It is a troubling time. 

Several weeks ago, I informed you that the Covid Advisory Group determined that after three weeks of decline in cases amongst our youth we could open the sanctuary for worship. While we are not yet seeing a decline of cases, there is hope that we would follow the trend of our southern states and that our case rate would improve. However, as long as the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota does not dramatically worsen, we will open the sanctuary for both Sunday morning worship services beginning November 7. 

More information, with protocol for indoor worship, will be forthcoming. Until then, we are blessed that it is October in Minnesota and we have secured the tent through the 31st. Worship Under the Big Top continues at 9 a.m. (We have a bucket of blankets for chilly mornings!) And the 11 a.m. service with the Plymouth choir will be livestreamed from the sanctuary. Please know that even when we do return to in-person worship in the sanctuary, both services will be livestreamed. I know that while many of you are eager to return to gathering in-person inside, just as many of you are concerned for the health of your family and will participate virtually. Whatever the future holds, let us strive to be community in creative ways, honoring one another’s stories and experiences. The world is sadly and scarily divided over the impact of this pandemic. Let us model caring community even in those situations when we do not hold consensus. 

Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community. 

Blessings, 

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth 

Minister for Congregational Care and Worship 


September 24, 2021
Dear friends,
Like many of you, I welcomed the onset of fall this week with both relief and joy. The cooler temperatures and the colorful hues are like balm to my sunburnt summer spirit. I pray that this change of season will also create a shift in our pandemic situation, although that time has not yet arrived. Last week I informed you that the Covid Advisory Group is paying particular attention to the number of new cases in our under-12 population, since they are the most vulnerable now, having no access to the vaccine. In one week, across Minnesota, the number of new cases in children under 12 has almost doubled. A Minneapolis high school had to shift to online learning only because of its high numbers of COVID-19 cases, and other Minnesota schools have had to do the same. We are unable to open the sanctuary for Sunday morning worship until these numbers show a decline.
We continue to work towards this full re-opening. We welcome boards, committees, and other small groups to meet in the church building if desired. If your group has 12 attendees or fewer, please use our Event Request form, and Emily Venell will help reserve a space. If your gathering includes more than 12, we will try to accommodate based on group size and room availability. Please be patient with us as we move into this new, cautious phase of building re-opening. Masks need to be worn at all times in the church building, regardless of group size, and if your group includes unvaccinated people, we ask that you continue meeting virtually or outdoors.
I know that the sanctuary holds special meaning for many of you, and it is perhaps where you feel most grounded in God’s presence. Even though the sanctuary is not yet open for worship on Sunday mornings, the quiet of the sanctuary space is available to you for meditation and prayer during the week. I pray this might provide some meaningful moments for you.
We have secured our “Big Top” through October and will continue to hold outdoor worship on Sundays at 9 a.m., with the 11 a.m. service livestreaming from the sanctuary.
May the fresh fall winds of the Spirit renew your tired soul. May we continue to do the holy work of Plymouth Church in creative ways. May God bless you, beloved community, with tenderness and grace that fills you with the awareness that you are deeply loved and valued. Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.
Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

September 17, 2021
Dear beloved friends,
As I write this weekly COVID update, I am filled with the joyful memories of Rally Sunday. How wonderful it was to be with one another—to celebrate worship and welcome back our beloved Plymouth Choir, and to hear sounds of delight as children (of all ages!) played on the bouncy slide. Being together provided some necessary balm for the disappointment of these days and was an important reminder that we are able to know community in creative ways.
Unfortunately, the state of COVID-19 in Minnesota is not improving. Daily cases continue to be above 2,000, and the increase in infection in children under twelve is alarming. The Covid Advisory Group is paying special attention to this demographic as we determine when it is safe to reopen the sanctuary for worship. Our children have no access to a vaccine, and we must make accommodations in order to protect them. Once we have experienced a meaningful decline in infection rates in children under 12 for three weeks in a row, we will re-open the sanctuary. Until then we will worship in person at 9 a.m. Under the Big Top and livestream worship (with the Plymouth Choir) at 11 a.m. from our sanctuary.
I understand that, for many of you, the sanctuary holds special meaning and it is where you feel most grounded in God’s presence. Please know that even though we cannot yet open the sanctuary on Sundays for worship, you are welcome to come in during the week and bask in the meditative quiet of the sanctuary space. I pray this might provide some meaningful moments for you.
The good news is that Plymouth Church is not closed. Our children are gathering on Wednesday evenings (outdoors) for various arts ensembles, and Church School kicks off the new program year this Sunday. Boards and committees continue to do their essential work. Small groups are meeting in the tent, courtyard, inside, or offsite. Clergy are offering pastoral care in a variety of settings. As DeWayne reminded us on Sunday: We are still here! Ministry of all kinds is happening at the corner of Franklin and Nicollet, which has ripple effects all through our wider community.
Because of the way the Minnesota Department of Health is currently reporting COVID-19 statistics, with a significant weekly update offered on Thursdays, my weekly letter will be included in the Friday email and posted on Facebook and our website on Fridays now, rather than Thursdays. Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.
Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

September 9, 2021

Dear friends,

I write this week with news you already know: that daily cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota continue to be high, with numbers escalating above the spring surge of this year. One week ago today, the number of cases reported was 2,138. Cumulative data from the holiday weekend reports 5,777 new cases. Until we witness a downward trend in new cases per day, we will be unable to open the sanctuary for worship.

The good news is that fall is the most beautiful season in Minnesota, and Plymouth will provide ways to gather safely outside. This Sunday, September 12, is Rally Sunday. In all my decades of ministry, Rally Sunday has been one of my favorite days. I have experienced this special Sunday as both homecoming and reunion, a day of great anticipation as a new program year commences. This Sunday we will worship together at 9 and 11 a.m. Under the Big Top. The Plymouth Choir returns with joy at 11 a.m. after an 18-month absence. The Jazz Trio continues to delight at 9 a.m. Rev. Dr. DeWayne Davis will gather us in with an inspiring sermon. We will be together in beloved community, reminding one another of God’s steadfast presence and in the importance of our spiritual connection.

At 10 a.m. there will be festivities for all ages in the parking lot, and at 10 a.m. and again at noon, you will have an opportunity to come into the church in small groups to view the art you created this summer. The Living Tree is on display in Guild Hall and is a beautiful reminder of the beauty and strength of our church. Other stops on the church tour include the sanctuary, a new display of staff photographs and bios, and a walk through the gorgeous courtyard, which is resplendent and has provided balm and gorgeous color all summer long.

While we continue to long for pre-pandemic familiarity, especially for our church rituals, let us have open hearts as we continue to discover new ways of connectedness. I know this weekend, in the midst of the joy of Rally Day reunion, we will all pause to remember the life-changing events of 9/11. As the doors of grief re-open and the images of 20 years ago flood our newsfeed, let us pray for those who live with the tragedy of that day always, and let us be even more determined to create sustaining beloved community at Plymouth Church. Plymouth is a community of love and support, a place to tend our pain and share our joy and to know God is present in our midst. This is why coming together this Rally Sunday is so important.

Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship


September 2, 2021

Dear Friends,
In the last week, little has changed regarding the COVID-19 situation in Minnesota. New cases are still averaging above 1,500 a day, with some days closer to 2,000. Some data suggests we may be near a peak in Delta variant cases, but there are experts who believe case numbers will continue to climb well into the fall. Please trust that Plymouth’s Covid Advisory Group remains diligent in reviewing information and continues to adjust building use protocol as the scenario evolves.
We ask that boards and committees plan for their September meetings to be held outside or via Zoom. We will worship at 9 a.m. Under the Big Top through September. On September 12, Rally Sunday, we have a morning of festivities planned outdoors: worship at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Our beloved Plymouth Choir returns to the 11 a.m. service. At 10 a.m., there will be festivities for all ages as well as an opportunity to visit Guild Hall to view the spectacular Community Art Project. More information on this will come: we will do this in small numbers, masked and with appropriate spacing. Following the 11 a.m. service, there will be time for continued fellowship and more visits to Guild Hall.
I anticipate that on September 19 and 26 we will resume the current worship schedule: worship Under the Big Top at 9 a.m. and Livestream Worship from our sanctuary at 11 a.m. Please trust that as soon as we can open the sanctuary, we will, regardless of what has been planned! We know that everyone awaits that day with great anticipation, even as we battle the disappointment that it has not happened yet.
Beloved Community, please pray for our children upon their return to school. The number of children becoming ill is growing daily. Many schools are not requiring masking or other safety measures, and the youngest in our midst are now the most vulnerable to this insidious virus. With every decision the Covid Advisory Group makes, we ask not only what is safest for our congregation, but especially what must we do to protect our children.
Until next week’s correspondence, I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.
Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

August 18, 2021

Dear friends,

With the concerning rise in cases of COVID-19 in Hennepin County and the entire state, I expect my words today will not surprise you, even as sadness and frustration pervade. We will not be opening the sanctuary for the 11 a.m. worship service this Sunday, August 22, and it is doubtful we will be able to open it at all before Rally Sunday, September 12. In addition, meetings or other gatherings at Plymouth must be held outside. You are welcome to reserve the tent for these purposes. Click here to reserve the tent. If you have a scheduled meeting inside the building, church staff will be in touch with you about moving it to an outside space or online.

We will continue to celebrate worship outside “Under the Big Top” on Sundays at 9 a.m. There is much joy in these gatherings. We are following the Minnesota Department of Health instructions regarding outdoor masking at this time:

  • Face masks are recommended for all vaccinated people.
  • Face masks are required for all unvaccinated people over the age of 2.
  • Face masks are required for everyone while singing.

In addition, our livestream sanctuary service at 11 a.m. will continue. Right now, your church clergy and staff are creating all kinds of programming to be held as safely as possible. We will celebrate Rally Sunday on September 12 with joy and gratitude. We may have to be outdoors (yet to be determined), but we will gather and be community and remember that God is in our midst and there are blessings to acknowledge, even in this continuing time of pandemic.

I will communicate with you each week in this way to report on any changes to our protocol and keep you aware of an ever-evolving situation. And I will close each letter with this encouragement and blessing:

I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.

Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

August 11, 2021

Dear friends,
Yesterday at our weekly Covid Advisory Group meeting, we made the difficult decision to delay opening the sanctuary for the 11 a.m. worship service. Our anticipated opening was this Sunday, August 15, but with the increased number of daily cases in Hennepin County, along with a rising number of breakthrough cases amongst vaccinated people, we do not feel it is yet safe to gather indoors for worship. We hope we may be able to open on August 22 and will make that determination next week. I am asking that you stay tuned to communication from me regarding our reopening process.
Those of you who are keeping a watchful eye on the COVID-19 situation will not be surprised by this decision, and all of us are saddened that once again, this insidious disease keeps us scattered rather than gathered. The Covid Advisory Group is especially mindful that our children do not have access to a vaccine, and because of this, we must do all that we can to protect their precious health while also encouraging their spirit. All programming for children is currently held outdoors. We must all take good precautions in keeping them safe when we are able to be inside again.
The good news is that we continue to worship weekly at 9 a.m. under the “Big Top”. If you have not yet joined us for this vibrant outdoor worship, please come. I know many of you are missing the beauty and sacredness of our sanctuary, and we look towards the future with the hope that soon the pews will be filled.
Again, we will not be opening the sanctuary for 11 a.m. worship this Sunday, August 15. We are still on track for a full reopening on Rally Sunday, September 12, and remain diligent in evaluating the situation each week. Stay tuned for news regarding 11 a.m. worship on August 22.
I hold you all in prayer as this pandemic wears on. May we be people of hope, may we be kind and caring, may we remain faithful in community.
Blessings,
Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care and Worship

July 9, 2020

I am pleased to announce that due to low numbers of daily new COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations in Minnesota (70% of adults and children over 12 have had at least one dose of the vaccine), the Covid Advisory Group is making two changes effective immediately:

  • Masking is still encouraged but not required at our 9:00 a.m. Sunday Worship Under the Big Top.
  • Masking in the church building is no longer required for all those who have been vaccinated. The exception to this is group gatherings in a room in which distancing is not possible. Of course, you are welcome to wear a mask if you wish, and you are required to wear a mask if you have not been vaccinated.

We are still on target to fully re-open the building for Sunday morning worship and educational activities on Rally Sunday, September 12. We will open the sanctuary for those who would like to attend 11:00 a.m. worship (still in a Livestream format) beginning August 15. Worship Under the Big Top will continue weekly at 9:00 a.m. through Labor Day weekend.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns,

Beth Hoffman Faeth


December 29, 2020

Beloved friends,

With the surge in COVID-19 cases in our community we have had to turn the dial back on PCC building usage. There is no in-person worship or programming until further notice. The building is closed except for essential personnel. This is a temporary situation. While we fully recognize how we are all experiencing COVID fatigue and desperately miss our church building and church friends; we need to be vigilant and practice COVID safety measures. Please stay home as much as possible, wear a face mask, socially distance, and wash your hands regularly. Remember, “We stay home now so that when we gather again no one is missing.”

Blessings,

Anne Gustafson


March 27, 2020

An excerpt from Paula Northwood’s March 27 Along the Way:

We have great resources that are guiding us through this time. The MN Conference UCC Minister, Shari Prestemon, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz are providing solid leadership and direction.

Because of the information we have now, we will not be holding in-church worship services until mid-May, and possibly for a longer time. Because we house the Groveland Food Shelf and Academia Elze, which are considered essential, we will continue to have limited custodial and security staff on site. Governor Walz’s executive order gives faith leaders and staff permission to record and broadcast spiritual support during this time. We are taking every precaution while doing this. We are trying to err on the side of caution.


March 14, 2020

Friends,

Upon further consideration and in consultation with the Deacons and the MN Conference of the UCC, we have decided to cancel the Sunday worship service and postpone the special meeting. This was a difficult decision, but we want to err on the side of caution. Our plan is to resume Sunday services and the special meeting on April 5 with the building opening again on April 1.

Elements of worship will be recorded and shared via the website and, we hope, other media platforms.  May these offerings provide some spiritual sustenance in this complicated time.  We continue to imagine ways to stay connected in community during these days of social distancing. Check the website tomorrow for details.

We will also provide boxed meals for the Third Sunday meal with limited volunteers.

Thank you for your patience.
Paula, Beth and Seth


March 13, 2020

Friends,

We are living in unprecedented times. We are also having to make decisions daily as new information becomes available. We know many of you are concerned and anxious about the future. Please know that we are in this together, and your clergy are available to help you through this stressful period. During life’s difficulties, the church is called to be a place of solace, support and well-being. We just may have to be creative about how we do it.

Following the Third Sunday meal—handing out boxed meals—we will be closing the building until April 1. (This date is subject to change; we’ll keep you posted.) All Plymouth programming, board and committee meetings, and events are cancelled unless held by teleconferencing or other non-contact means.

The only exceptions are Groveland Food Shelf, Academia Elze, VocalEssence and theater groups. They will be making their own decisions.

We’re taking our lead from MN Dept of Health and following the guidelines as best we can under the circumstances. We are committed to be a supportive community of faith during this time. Stay tuned as we creatively find solutions for staying connected and supporting each other.

May God bless us!

Paula Northwood, Acting Senior Minister
Beth Hoffman Faeth, Minister for Congregational Care and Worship
Seth Patterson, Director of Spiritual Formation and Theater