We will continue to worship together virtually and limit access to the meetinghouse, for now.
We recognize that New Gardeners are eager to return to Meeting for Worship, to sit with one another, and be in community as is our tradition dating back to 1754. At this writing it has been more than four months since New Garden Friends gathered in person for Meeting for Worship. Precautionary
measures to limit the spread of coronavirus have also closed our meetinghouse to its other regular functions, including in-person meetings of committees, civic and support groups, and other social and recreational groups.
These actions were determined by the Meeting’s COVID-19 Prevention Group, an ad hoc committee co-clerked by Jane Foy (who also clerks the Meeting on Ministry and Counsel [MM&C]) and Kat Rice (member of MM&C), both physicians; and including physicians Ron Pudlo, Jennifer Schaal, and Fred Wilson; the meeting’s clerk, Tim Lindeman; pastoral minister, Margaret Webb; congregational nurse, Karen Kane; and clerks of the House and Grounds Committees. Their foremost concern is to protect the health of the congregation, the staff, and the many members of the public who frequent the meetinghouse. While Gov. Cooper’s rules do not currently prevent faith communities from meeting outdoors, if socially distanced, the COVID-19 Prevention Group has considered
this option at regular intervals since May and determined that it would not be practical or prudent at New Garden to allow
outdoor meetings for these reasons:
• Many in our congregation are at heightened risk for serious disease, if infected by the coronavirus, because of age or other health issues.
• Staff members continue to use the building (on staggered schedules), and several have health conditions that put them
at heightened risk for serious disease.
• Providing access to restrooms for outdoor worshipers or other meeting attenders would require social distancing, traffic control, and sanitizing surfaces between uses; assuring everyone’s safety under these circumstances is beyond New Garden’s capacity.
• Guilford County and North Carolina, more broadly, continue to experience increases in COVID-19 cases; and the risk of spread from those who are infected—including those with no symptoms or minimal symptoms—remains high. Because planning for New Garden’s fall programming requires decisions to be made now, the COVID-19 Prevention Group has recommended that all fall activities be virtual only, through November 30. The group is open to considering specific proposals for small meetings on the New Garden grounds, provided they do not require access to the building. Please contact Janie Foy via [email protected] if you have a
proposal for the group’s consideration.
We, like so many other Americans, have adapted to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. Many of us gather online as Pastoral Minister Margaret Webb offers a prepared message via Facebook Live and Zoom at 11 a.m. each First Day. She also delivers a midweek message on Facebook at 1 p.m. each Wednesday. Videos of all messages are maintained on the New Garden Facebook page. The pastoral care work of the Meeting continues in every way except in-person visits and transportation. Caring Friends, Religious Education, and other Meeting functions continue. Several new programs are being implemented to help Friends stay connected, safely. Stay tuned!
The COVID-19 Prevention Group will regularly revisit these issues going forward. Everyone yearns to gather again, to see Friends and worship in community. And we will, when we are more certain that we can do so without undue risk.
Jane Foy, Clerk, MM&C and Co-Clerk, New Garden COVID-19 Prevention Group, Tim Lindeman, Clerk, New Garden Friends Meeting