We hope that this correspondence finds you well and healthy amidst this unprecedented pandemic, quarantine, and heartbreaking loss in an ever narrowing circle of connection. 
 
Our presbytery leaders, Warren McNeill and Barbara Smith, have been in touch with congregations and clergy since the beginning of this pandemic. They have shared recommendations on church building closures based on the directives of the CDC, and the States of New Jersey and New York, and compiled helpful articles from reputable sources on the Newark Presbytery website.
 
At its May 12 meeting, the Vision Accountability Board voted unanimously to create a task force to expand the conversations around reopening our church buildings.  That task force is now comprised of Rev. Dr. Barbara Smith, Elder Warren McNeill, Rev. Maria Crompton (Elmwood), Rev. Dan Martian (Livingston), Elder Carlos Monteagudo, MD, MPH (Bloomfield Church on the Green) and Elder Tia Goss Sawhney, DrPH, FSA, MAAA (First Newark).   On Thursday, May 21 the task force met via Zoom for in depth, thorough conversation, the basis of which we write to you today. 
 
We know that some of our congregations are anxious to return to in-person worship in your church buildings.  Others have taken official steps to continue only virtual worship into September and October.  Others have said they don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person worship until a vaccine is created.  We have crafted today’s letter from both theological and scientific positions – which lead us to recommend that our church buildings remain closed and worship remain virtual until at least September 12.  Why?
 

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