Beginning the week of September 13 FPC launched Porch Pals at FPC! These are groups of 6 to 10 people who are meeting together for seven consecutive weeks for fellowship, reflection, and prayer.
When the early church first met, their gatherings were small and took place within homes. When FPC was founded in 1854, the small congregation met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sansom. And now in 2020, FPC is going back to those house church roots!
Why “Porch Pals?”
The word “porch” underscores the fact that these groups will meet outside, which in our current pandemic is a much safer option for gatherings. Various members of FPC have volunteered their porch as a good gathering spot for groups to meet – or in some cases, it may be part of their yard that is used instead of a porch. Regardless, the idea is that these gatherings would take place on the porches and in the yards of member homes.
“Pals” makes for memorable alliteration. Plus, it underscores the fact that Jesus has called us ‘friends’ – both of him and one another as family in Christ. Porch Pals is one way in which we can grow more fully into that gift with one another, particularly because the small number in each group allows for more meaningful connections to grow.
What will we do during these gatherings?
Each week the church office will provide the Porch Pal groups with questions to help them reflect on the most recent Sunday scriptures, sermon, and service of worship. As well, Porch Pal groups will have space to catch up, share stories, and pray together. Inevitably, each group will take on its own rhythm and identity even as all groups will be reflecting on the same material.
In light of COVID-19, what are the protocols for gathering safely?
Porch Pals will meet 1) outside and 2) in groups of no more than 10 with each person keeping at least six feet of distance between family units. Group members will wear masks and there will not be any shared food or drink, though group members may bring their own beverage or snack if they would like. Obviously we cannot guard 100% against the possibility of transmitting COVID-19, but we do believe that because these groups are 1) small 2) outdoors 3) socially-distanced and 4) using masks the risks of transmission are greatly reduced.
Also, we do ask that you check your temperature at home before attending a porch gathering. If you are over 99.6 degrees, we ask that you refrain from attending. Finally, know that while you are welcome to wear a face shield in addition to a mask, know that a face shield is not a substitute for a mask. The mask must still be worn.
If you are interested in signing up, please email email@example.com. Once a group has hit the maximum number allowed, it will be designated as “closed.” However, at the end of our seven weeks together, we will assess where we sense God leading us. It may well be that after seven weeks, we do another iteration of this that allows for groups to mix and mingle differently than the first round.
Can families with young children be involved?
Absolutely – we want our families with children to have Porch Pals, too. However, during this time of COVID, we have been advised not to place children with those 65 and older (at FPC, we are defining children as ages infant – 5th grade). Because of this, our plan is to have those families become Porch Pals with one another, should they desire to do so. Do know that Porch Pal discussions are oriented toward adults and older youth, which means that children involved with Porch Pals would need an outside space to play. Finally, keep in mind that we can only have 10 Porch Pals gathered at one time, and children are included in this count.
Families with children interested in participating, please fill out this form and we will be in touch once we have a list together of porch options for you!