A Report from our COVID-19 Task Force

On May 12 The COVID-19 Task Force presented to Session its recommendations for restarting selected church activities.

Houses of worship will not likely receive permission to re-open until Phase 4 of the New York state plan. At that time, the Task Force recommends a three-phase re-opening plan:

  • Phase I would look a lot like the current operating plan, with worship online only and only essential personnel on site.
  • Phase II would introduce in-person worship, with several changes in protocol to reduce the risk of virus transmission.
  • Phase III would look closely like the “new normal” of the future; the task force will begin identifying details of this final phase next week.

Progression through all three phases will depend on continual improvement in metrics in the nine-county Finger Lakes region, and is expected to require many weeks.

For the immediate future, all committees and groups should assume continued closure of the church building, and should not plan any in-person gatherings. The COVID-19 Task Force and the Session will keep abreast of all pandemic-related developments, and will keep the congregation apprised of their decisions.


(4/5/20, 10:45am)

Additional Ways to Help

Sew face masks and hospital gowns
Linda Yost, Sue Maddock, and Sue Melech are joining forces with Sew Green (the same wonderful nonprofit we worked with to make reusable grocery bags for our food cupboard guests) to coordinate the creation and delivery of homemade face masks and hospital gowns to Rochester hospitals (in both Rochester Regional and Unity health systems). If you like to sew, you can help! Take a look at these instructions and pattern for masks, and these for gowns. If you can donate fabric or if you need help getting fabric and supplies, please call or text message Linda at 585-315-4679. And when you’ve finished your sewing, please call Linda, who will arrange a time to pick up your items (in a socially isolated way).

From Linda:

“My daughter, an administrator at Rochester Regional Health, reached out to tell me how desperate hospitals are for masks and gowns. She said Please contact everyone you know who sews and ask them to help! Third Church is so precious to me because of its outreach efforts in the community. Now we have been given another opportunity to lend a hand!”

Donate non-perishable food items to the Food Cupboard
Your donations will be graciously accepted at the back door to the Celebration Center on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9:00am–noon. Right now the Food Cupboard especially needs boxes of cereal, loaves of bread, and containers of pasta sauce (in plastic jars), but all nonperishables are welcome as future shortages of different staples may occur.

THANK YOU for all the ways you’re supporting each other and the larger community during this difficult time.


(3/28/20, 2:30pm)

Are You Looking for Ways to Help During the COVID-19 Crisis?

As we continue to adjust to our new, socially-distant normal, many of us are finding ourselves itching to do something to help, even while we may be stuck inside our homes.  Here are a few things we can do to support each other and our neighbors in need:

  • Donate non-perishable food items to the Food Cupboard. Your donations will be graciously accepted at the back door to the Celebration Center during the times when volunteers are on site distributing food:  Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9:00am – noon. Panic-shopping has already caused some supplies to dwindle; right now the Food Cupboard especially needs boxes of cereal, but all nonperishables are welcome as future shortages of different staples may occur.
  • Sign-up to be an on-call volunteer for Dining Room Ministry or Food Cupboard.  We have enough volunteers for right now, but as self-quarantines continue we may need extra (clean) hands in the near future. Please send an email to connect@thirdpresbyterian.org and we will forward your information to the appropriate coordinator.
  • Make a donation to the People’s Emergency Fund.  We expect the need for emergency rental assistance to increase as lay-offs and furloughs continue.  
  • Check on each other! Many of us are homebound now, and some of us lack internet access. The deacons and elders are working hard to make contact with everyone in our church family and the more additional touch-points folks receive, the more connected we will all feel. Please make a phone call or mail a card to your friends, your acquaintances, and our frontline workers. (Contact information can be found in our Elexio Community database—reach out to Rachel Norton or Cindy Mark if you need help accessing it).
  • Pray for each other! Join us on brief group prayer calls (Tuesdays 9:30-9:45am, at this link, or via conference call (dial 405-346-8191‬, and use PIN ‪950 082 571#‬); Thursdays 4:00-4:15pm, at this link, or via conference call (dial 740-621-5608‬, and use PIN ‪240 111 405#)). You can also submit a prayer request on our website or by contacting any of the staff.
  • Continue your regular financial support of Third Church as you are able, and consider an extra gift if you have the capacity. Although our ministry looks different right now, the church is just as active as ever worshiping God, providing comfort and solace in these worrisome times, and offering material support within our church family and throughout the broader community.

Be safe, be well, and know that your church is here for you.


(3/19/20, 10:26am)

The Monroe County Health Department has recommended that all non-essential personnel remain at home, and so the church office is closed until further notice. Because Dining Room Ministry and Food Cupboard are essential services that we provide to the community, they remain operational under very strict health and safety protocols. At present we do still expect to stream worship from our sanctuary on Sunday.

Although the majority of your church staff is working at home, we are still available! The church’s central phone number is still operational and staff are still monitoring email. Please reach out at any time, with any comment or concern, to connect@thirdpresbyterian.org.


(3/17/20, 10:44am)

We are still expecting to reopen the church building tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, but with slightly amended office hours—9:00am – 5:00pm.  Sextons have been following CDC guidelines for cleaning and sterilizing commonly-touched surfaces and will continue to do so.  We expect the Food Cupboard to reopen Thursday morning, and Dining Room Ministry to continue on Saturday morning.  All volunteers will be following updated safety protocols.  All other activities remain suspended until further notice.


(3/16/20, 11:00am)

At present, we expect the church office to reopen Wednesday, March 18 at 8:30am. Sextons have been following CDC guidelines for cleaning and sterilizing commonly-touched surfaces and will continue to do so.  We expect the Food Cupboard to reopen Thursday morning, and Dining Room Ministry to continue on Saturday morning.  All volunteers will be following updated safety protocols.  All other activities remain suspended until further notice.


(3/16/20, 9:10am)

It is out of an abundance of caution that we are temporarily closing the church building. Yesterday evening, we received a communication from the daycare that rents the middle level of our education building, stating that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 virus within that daycare program. Our Sunday nursery uses space that is also used by the daycare, and the toddler music class uses the same entrance to our building. We do not have any more information at this time. At a minimum, the church building will remain closed for at least 48 hours.

Rest assured, we will share more information with you when we have it. In the meantime, please reach out to church staff with any questions or concerns via email. We will be monitoring it continuously. And do keep all of those potentially affected in your prayers


(3/13/20, 11:55am)

Third Church will suspend all in-person activities until further notice.  The only exceptions are Dining Room Ministry and the Food Cupboard, which serve our community’s most vulnerable populations. These ministries are operating with new safety protocols.

If your group or committee wants to meet online, your group leader may contact the church for assistance.

Our sextons are using this period of decreased church activity to conduct extra cleaning and sanitizing.

The church office remains open, and your staff is available for your pastoral care needs. Now is a time for creativity in keeping our community close, even though we must be physically apart, and we will be sharing more ways to connect in the days ahead.


(3/12/20, 4:55pm)

Cancelled Third Church activities include:

  • Worship (though we will hold an online worship experience)
  • Sunday School
  • Adult Education
  • Lunch & Learn with Dr. Caprio
  • I-Peace
  • Sunday Junior Choir Rehearsal
  • Bell choir rehearsals
  • Parents of Young Children Fellowship Night

For all other activities, please watch for information from your group leaders.

We recognize the extreme import of our outreach work, especially during this time, and we have made provisions to keep the Food Cupboard and Dining Room Ministry operating safely.


(3/12/20, 10:33am)
Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza has advised all organizations to consider suspending gatherings of more than 50 people. Therefore, at the request of our Safety Task Force, we have decided to cancel in-person worship, education, and the Lunch & Learn this Sunday, March 15.  There will be options for participating in worship online; additional instructions are forthcoming.


(3/12/20, 9:51am)
Third Church is aware of the recent confirmation of a case of COVID-19 in Monroe County, and has been keeping abreast of recommendations from government officials.  An additional update on our response will be available shortly.


(3/11/20, 11:00pm)

At its meeting Tuesday evening (March 10) the session of Third Church voted to take a number of steps to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus in accordance with CDC and New York Department of Health guidelines.  While there is no documented case of COVID-19 in the Rochester region as yet, it seems prudent to take these simple steps:

  1. The Safety Task Force, chaired by Jim Pochodylo, with input from Dr. Krug and three nurse members of session (Beth Aten, Roxanne Boyer, and Molly Perry) are authorized to monitor the COVID-19 situation and take appropriate steps for mitigation.
  2. As a precaution, we will suspend the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) at our services, as well as Fellowship Hour following the 10:45am worship service.
  3. We have removed pew bibles and hymnals; all scriptures and music will be printed in the bulletin.  We will not pass the red pew pads or the offering plates.  The ushers will have offering plates available at the doors so that you can place your offering in the plate as you leave the service.
  4. We will begin live streaming our 10:45am worship service within the next few weeks so that those at high risk for the disease (our elderly members and friends with underlying health conditions and those with compromised immune systems) can participate in the service in their homes.
  5. Any person with respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) is asked to remain at home and seek medical advice/treatment. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please inform the church so that we can take appropriate action.

All of these steps are precautionary, practical measures that help us to do our part in protecting our Rochester community.