COVID-19 News and Resources

News and Updates

Live Streaming

View our live stream page here: http://firstefc.org/live-stream

View our Facebook Live videos here: https://www.facebook.com/FirstEFC/live

Congregational Letter - Phase III Reopening

We support the decision for health or practical reasons to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Know that your attendance is voluntary and by attending in-person you are assuming the risks associated with contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The following provides information on what to expect:

  1. To offer a touch-less experience, the main entrance will be propped open 10-15 minutes before the service starts and greeters will welcome you and answer questions.
  2. Practice social distancing to maintain 6 feet of separation outside and inside, whenever possible. Don’t shake hands or give hugs, even if the other person says it’s okay.
  3. Face coverings of the nose and mouth are strongly encouraged to be worn, if tolerated, by individuals over 2 years of age. This is more to protect others than yourself.
  4. Practice good hygiene by using hand sanitizer upon entering the building and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer prior after touching surfaces and prior to touching your face. Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, your arm or a face covering.
  5. Please proceed to the Worship Center, rather than lingering in the lobby or hallway.
  6. Ushers will be present to help seat you. Please maintain 6 feet of distance between households and keep every other pew open. The first row of seating on the main floor and the balcony will be of sufficient distance for your safety. If the Worship Center reaches capacity, we will provide directions to sit in alternate locations in the building.
  7. We encourage you to bring your own Bible, notebook for sermon notes and children’s quiet activities. Wi-Fi will not be on, so that there is enough bandwidth for satellite and streaming. Pew Bibles, hymnals and children’s busy bags will not be available.
  8. During singing, please wear a mask or engage your heart and mind in worship, rather than singing along.
  9. Communion: Until masks or strict hand sanitation are no longer recommended, in-person communion services will be suspended.
  10. No coffee, hot water or food will be provided at this time. Please bring your own beverage, if absolutely needed.
  11. Giving boxes for offering and the Care Fund will be at the Welcome Center in the lobby outside the Worship Center. We continue to encourage electronic giving.
  12. The bathrooms are open; however, we are discouraging their use due to inability to disinfect after each use. Bathroom doors will be propped open to help to ensure ability to know whether multi-person bathrooms have reached capacity to maintain social distancing.
  13. This will be a worship gathering only with no children/student programming or Mini-Congregation gatherings.
  14. At conclusion of the service, please go directly to the exits. We can spread out and greet one another outside in the green areas or parking lot. We need time to wipe down the worship areas with disinfectant between services.
  15. Please stay home if you are experiencing symptoms indicating you may be sick.
  16. It is encouraged that individuals at higher risk continue to stay home. If your household includes an at-risk individual, consider staying home or taking precautions upon your return home such as changing your clothes and good handwashing prior to having contact with the higher risk individual.

Definition of Sick

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever (greater that 100.4) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Definition of Higher Risk

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Based on what we know now, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

  • People 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised

    • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

What if I find out I have COVID-19 afterwards? 

If you find out you are positive for COVID-19 and were at the church building 48 hours prior to or during symptom development, please let the church office know the date you were in the building and who may have been in closer proximity during your visit. The church will notify staff and individuals that came in contact with you, requesting that it remain confidential beyond those directly impacted. Those in contact will be asked to stay home for 14 days from time of contact.

First Evangelical Free Church Policy Guideline for Phase III Reopening

Phase Three: (In-person worship services and gatherings):

Open in-person worship service and gatherings such as funerals, weddings should follow guidelines outlined below. Follow Phase II for congregant access to building during non-worship service times.

Employees/volunteers:

Follow Phase I policy guideline for employees/staff.

  • Ensure that first row of balcony seating is safe distance from edge as they may not wear masks.
  • Estimated 25 percent capacity of Worship Center is 110. Maintain 6 feet of distance between households. May need to add services.
  • Continue to offer live stream service.
  • Encourage emptying of lobby/foyer quickly by greeters, ushers, and signage.
  • Wear gloves when sanitizing between services.
  • Disinfection of worship areas: Use commercially available cleaners or diluted hydrogen peroxide (available in custodian closet) to wipe down commonly used hard surfaces on pews and chairs. Trash receptacles outside bathrooms for paper towels to use on door handles when exiting.
  • Education: post stay home when sick, social distancing, health screening for COVID-19*, and handwashing posters.

Congregants:

  • Limit number for each service venue to allow 6 feet of distance between households. Ensure first row of seating is safe distance from worship leaders as they may not wear masks. May need to seat in Family Center, Youth Center or main level classrooms to allow 6 feet of distance between households.
  • Social distancing: Maintain 6 feet of separation whether inside or outside. No handshakes or hugs.
  • Protective equipment: face coverings are strongly encouraged to be worn, if tolerated, by individuals over 2 years of age. Exception for worship leaders during services.
  • Sanitation: hand sanitizer near entrances. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon entering the building, prior to touching face. Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, your arm or a face covering.
  • Stay home when sick*
  • Vulnerable individuals**: encouraged to continue to shelter in place rather than go to church building. Those living with a vulnerable individual encouraged to stay home or take precautions when returning home.
  • Attendance is voluntary and attending a gathering is considered assumption of the risks associated with contracting the COVID-19 virus.
  • During singing, please wear a mask or silently engage your heart and mind in worship, rather than singing along.
  • Offering & Care Fund: Giving boxes at the Welcome Center in the lobby outside of Worship Center.
  • Communion: Until masks or strict hand sanitation are no longer recommended, in-person communion services will be suspended.
  • Bulletins/print materials: on-line. Pew materials and books have been temporarily removed. Bring own Bible, notebook for sermon notes, and children’s quiet activities.
  • Contact tracing: following COVID+ test of congregant, email or telephone all that had direct contact 48 hours prior to symptom development through start of congregant’s home self-isolation. Those that had contact ask to stay home for 14 days from time of contact. Maintain confidentiality of COVID+ individual except for needed for contact tracing.
  • No coffee, hot water or food will be provided. Bring your own beverage, if absolutely needed. Water fountains are not open for use.
  • Multi-person bathrooms capacity limited to three. Open for urgent use only.
  • Adult mini-congregations in-person meeting during worship services remain closed. Nursery, youth, and children’s in-person programs during worship services remain closed. Families encouraged to worship together.

*Coronavirus symptoms: include fever 100.4 or greater, chills, muscle aches, new cough, new shortness of breath, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

**Vulnerable Individuals: 1. Individuals that are over age 65; or 2. Individuals of all ages that have underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well-controlled including, serious heart conditions, chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, severe obesity, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring immune weakening medications.

Temporary Office Hours

Sunday - OFFICE CLOSED

Monday - Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Friday - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Saturday - CLOSED

Resources

How Can We Pray for Our Youth?

Pastor Kenny and Kirsten have created an important and eye-opening document for what our youth here at First Free are experiencing and how we can support them through prayer. Read More

CDC Guidelines for Faith-Based Organizations

This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. Read More

EFCA Special Update

The EFCA Office of the President Team is monitoring the situation, and continuation policies for the national office have been established for the COVID-19 outbreak. Read More

Psalms for the Anxious

Karen McMahon, our Biblical Counselor, has provided this resources to anyone who may be feeling anxious during this time. Read More

A Free Ebook for Those in Your Church: The Final Days of Jesus

In these uncertain times, believers can take solace in the unchanging nature of God toward us, his beloved children. Get the FREE e-book here.

Seven simple ways the church can provide Covid care

By Larry Orth, D.Min., Pastor of Care & Community Outreach, Calvary Evangelical Free Church, Rochester, Minnesota 3/16/2020 Read More