Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all in person programming and worship has been suspended until further notice.  



Although our buildings may be closed, our hearts are still wide open and welcoming to all! To participate in our online programming via Zoom, please email Pastor Trish at sheffield.tricia@gmail.com where you may receive the link to our gatherings.

Schedule:

Sunday worship at 10:15 AM (gathering to chat) then 10:30 AM worship via Zoom
Zoom Kids Monday Nights at 6 PM 
Wednesday Prayers at 9 AM via Zoom
Thursday Bible Study at 7 PM via Zoom: On hiatus for the summer   
Other small group meetings will be scheduled via Zoom

Blessings to all for good physical, emotional, and spiritual health in these difficult and challenging times. Know you are loved!


        A Letter from the Church Re-Opening Committee

                                        July 16, 2020


Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family Member and Friends,


It has now been eighteen weeks since we have gathered in person to worship, and I know how much you miss being with each other in our beautiful sanctuary. I do too. Eighteen weeks since COVID-19 came to our nation, and continues to ravage our nation/world in unprecedented ways. As the body of Christ, we have gathered on Zoom, either through Daily Devotions, Bible Study, Consistory meetings, Zoom Kids, and, of course, worship. Please let me say how grateful I am to our Director of Music, Judith Daugherty, for her stellar efforts in bringing us the gift of music each Sunday, and to our Director of Children and Youth, Beverly Bova Scarano, and her team of teachers who continue to educate our young ones in their faith. 


As the numbers of people infected have gone down in New Jersey, and more businesses are re-opening, I gathered a Re-Opening Committee to discuss what it would look like when we could re-open the sanctuary and have in person worship again. The Committee had its first meeting on June 23rd via Zoom. Because your safety and health, the health of your loved ones, and our larger community is of utmost priority, the Committee were all in agreement that we continue to worship on Zoom for the summer, and then we would re-evaluate this decision after Labor Day based on the progression (or not) of COVID-19. For this decision, we relied on the most up-to-date information from the medical and science communities, and our discerning, prayerful spirits. Further, there is the absolute commitment on our part to follow all applicable laws and regulations concerning COVID-19 mitigation and to keep up to date on what is required by the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov) as well as availing ourselves of the resources they continue to provide. We also noted that our sanctuary does not have air conditioning, and based on the personal protective protocols that are in place for indoor worship — such as wearing a mask — this would be most uncomfortable in the summer, especially for our older members, and those with medical conditions. (I did a study of our members who fall into the category of over 60 and with medical conditions, including our vulnerable younger ones, and that is 60% of our congregation).


The Committee voiced that we all want to “go back to church” but as long as this pandemic continues, church as we once knew it cannot exist. To hold worship inside would require the following protocols that we would ask and expect everyone to follow in order to lessen the risk of infection and keep everyone safe. These protocols are based on the guidelines that have been established by a number of mainline dominations.


  • No one may enter the building who is feeling sick or with a temperature over 100.
  • Those who are over 60 and have medical conditions would be encouraged to stay home, if they did not feel comfortable attending.
  • All doors must propped open during worship in order to eliminate hands touching doorknobs.
  • The worshiping community would be limited to 50% normal attendance, which would mean 25 - 30 people.
  • There would be no early arrivals allowed, or gathering to chat with one another, as we normally do. People would enter at 10:25 and take their designated seats as given by an usher, be required to socially distance at a space of 6 feet or greater, which would be marked out on pews. 
  • All worshipers would be required to wear a mask. 
  • There would be no Children and Worship downstairs. Children and youth would sit with their families.
  • There could be no touching of any kind, or sitting with persons outside of one’s household.
  • Bibles and hymnals would be stored away.
  • No bulletins
  • No congregational singing or aloud prayers
  • No sharing of bread and juice for the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
  • No coffee hour
  • Use of the restroom would be at your own risk as we will not be able to sanitize the restroom in between usage.
  • Offering plates would be at the back of the church for people to place their offering upon entering or leaving.
  • At the end of worship — which would be shortened — people would have to leave the space immediately, spaced out at 6 feet or greater, and escorted by an usher. People could fellowship with each other outside, socially distanced.
  • The sanctuary would have to be professionally disinfected after each worship


This doesn’t sound much like our church and how we worship, does it? 


As much as we are grieving not being able to be together, we are convinced that continuing on Zoom for Sunday worship — for the time being —  is the best option in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.


That said, we would like to suggest some creative ways we can worship together, outside and safely. Starting in August, we are hoping to have two Evening Vespers, August 9 and August 23, 6 - 6:30 PM in the Meditation Garden, weather permitting. We would still require socially distancing at a space of 6 feet or greater, masks, bringing one’s own chair, no touching of each other outside of one’s household, and no singing. Small groups, such as Caregivers and New Jericho Choir (no group singing, though) would be encouraged to gather in the Meditation Garden or on the Great Lawn, abiding by the same protective protocols. In addition, once we do go back to in person worship, our hope is to secure WiFi in the sanctuary and continue to broadcast via Zoom. This is so those who are unable to, or don’t feel comfortable worshiping in person may still participate.


Beloved, I don’t think I’ve truly voiced to anyone how much I miss hugging you, or holding your hand while praying, or sitting next to you and talking, or seeing your faces looking back and smiling at me from the pews. But, as much as I grieve these losses, you being alive and healthy is much more important to me because of the holy call of loving and serving you. I know one day when we can hug again and be together fully, it will be a glorious day, full of joy and laughter. And yes, probably a lot of tears too.


In closing, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Re-Opening Committee for their prayerful work and leadership (which will be ongoing). As I said to them, “This is a committee upon which I reckon you never envisioned serving. Thank you.” If you should have any questions regarding this letter and the Committee’s recommendations/decisions, please feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to have a conversation with you.


The peace of Christ be with you,


Pastor Trish and the Re-Opening Committee

Rev. Tricia Sheffield, Ph.D.

Vice President and Elder Janet Colmorgen

Elder Dolores Hofmann

Elder Bob Kinley

Judith Daugherty, Director of Music

Deacon Denise Gaeta, Proxy for Beverly Bova Scarano, Director of Children and Youth





Middletown Reformed Church (MRC) is a welcoming and affirming congregation dual affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Reformed Church in America, and we are rostered with the non-profit organization Room for All . MRC is a church where the love of God is the guiding principle for all of our ministries. We believe that God’s grace is irresistible, freely given, and available for all people. We are a church committed to social justice, living out the command to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We are a church on the side of love for all God’s people – providing for those who are in need, advocating for all oppressed peoples, and caring for our earth – we love because God first loved us.

This is what you will experience when you worship with us. You will immediately feel welcomed, not only by our greeters, but also by the Spirit of God that is hovering ever-present in our church and among our congregation. You will be moved by our music, at times traditional, but then, at other times, a bit more eclectic. You will be stirred by the liturgy, and you will be challenged and affirmed by the sermons. If you have young ones in your family, you will find one of the most vibrant children and youth programs in New Jersey. Finally, you will find fellowship and kindred spirits during our coffee hour. All of this to say, you will feel a sense of belonging . . . you will feel God's unconditional Love.



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