Return and Renewal
Response to Covid-19 and plans for a return to our facilities
Sunday worship is online and in-person. Masking and social distancing is optional for those vaccinated and strongly encouraged for those not yet vaccinated. A section of the sanctuary is reserved those who prefer to be masked and socially distanced. All other restrictions and procedures have been lifted.
Indoor, in-person events (besides worship and memorial services) are currently not permitted. Beginning Monday, August 2, 2021, the church offices and building will be open for visitors weekdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Beginning Tuesday, September 7, 2021, church and outside groups may begin having events, meetings, and activities inside the building.
Outdoor, in-person activities are currently permitted on the church grounds and offsite. Masking and social distancing is optional for those vaccinated and strongly encouraged for those not yet vaccinated. Church groups may meet indoors offsite with the same restrictions.
June 13, 2021 Update
The opening of the church office has been moved to Monday, August 2. The office will be open weekdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
May 26, 2021 Update
For previous updates, see here.
With recent changes to the CDC and State of Virginia Covid-19 guidelines, we now face another, but certainly more joyous challenge; how to best reopen the church for worship, classes, meetings and other activities. As we initiate this process there are a few things we’re going to need from the congregation, and those are patience, grace and continual feedback. We recognize that some elements of Westminster’s reopening will be imperfect but we will be doing our very best to reopen in a way that is safe, fair and impactful.
We are grateful to God that we can return to the fullness of our worship services and begin ramping up with “in-person” activities for all our ministries, with continued regard for those not yet vaccinated.
The highlights of the return and renewal plan, as approved on May 26 by the Session, the governing body of the church, are:
Beginning in worship on Sunday, June 6, masking and social distancing will be optional for those vaccinated and strongly encouraged for those not yet vaccinated. There will be a section of the sanctuary reserved those who prefer to be masked and socially distanced. Hymn singing, and congregational participation in the liturgy resumes; our various summer music ensembles return to worship leadership, with full choirs returning in the fall. Pre-registration, capacity limits, reserved seating, and acknowledgment of risks will no longer be in place. Childcare will be provided (with specific details to be provided later). Westminster will continue to live stream the service from now on.
Beginning Tuesday, July 6, the church offices and buildings will be open weekdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
Beginning Tuesday, September 7, church and outside groups may begin having events, meetings, and activities inside the building.
On Sunday, September 12, our fall programs begin.
Full details can be found in the document below. We are so thankful for your support, participation, sharing of time and leadership and the financial gifts that have sustained and sharpened our ministries during these fourteen months. The pandemic has changed our church in ways that are just starting to understand but we firmly believe it will make us a stronger, more thoughtful and ultimately better congregation. We will continue to communicate with you regarding the re-opening of the church and encourage you to provide your thoughts and feedback as we work through this important process.
Committee on Return and Renewal
The nature of the current public health crisis poses significant barriers to returning to worship at Westminster as we knew it in February. Nearly every aspect of our Sunday worship experience is challenged by public health guidelines intended to reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The timing and manner of a return to Sunday worship in the sanctuary therefore needs to be considered carefully and deliberately, based on the best available information and guidance from medical professionals, government agencies and others, and in a public health environment that continues to evolve.
On May 27, 2020, the Session approved the creation of the Committee on Return and Renewal, which will monitor and assess relevant information and recommend to the Session plans for a gradual or complete return to the facilities of Westminster, as well as the resumption of ministries and programs that occur beyond our facilities. In addition to recommending long-term plans, the committee may need to receive and advise the Session on shorter-term, specific requests as they arise.
When the people of Israel “returned” to the land after the exile, they renewed the covenant and shaped their worship and service to God in ways that were different than before, but reimagined and reborn (Nehemiah 8-10). The committee has been intentionally named “Return and Renewal” (as opposed to “Re-open”) out of recognition of the tremendous degree to which the ministry of Westminster has remained open – much of it digitally – through this time of pandemic, and out of acknowledgment that when we are able to return to the facilities, many of our ministries will have changed or need to be changed.
Members of the Committee were appointed by the Session upon recommendation of Pastor Larry Hayward, who serves as the primary staff for the committee along with Director of Finance and Administration Lavinia Davis-Laux. To contact the committee, email [email protected].
Doug Anderson – Vice Chair
Associate Professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University
Chair, Worship Committee
Associate Director of Communications and Marketing, Ford’s Theatre
Chair, Digital Ministries Committee
Former Chair, Christian Education Committee and Former Vice Chair, Congregational Life Committee
Assistant Teacher, Westminster Weekday Preschool
Chair, Westminster Foundation Board
Mike Donley – Chair
Chair, International Mission Committee
Former Secretary of the Air Force
Former Chair, Christian Formation Committee
Outgoing President, George Mason Elementary PTA
Vice Chair, Buildings & Grounds Committee
Project Manager/Architect with the Architect of the Capitol
Member, Youth Formation Subcommittee
President, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Vice Chair, Congregational Life Committee; Usher Captain
Certified Business Continuity Professional, Corporate COVID-19 Task Force, Marine Corps Chem/Bio Countermeasures Instructor
Chair, Congregational Life Committee
Retired Teacher, Alexandria City Public Schools