Pastor’s Perspective

Please note that the session has approved that HPC will return to in person worship on Sunday 20 September if Metro Reopening Phases are in Phase 3 by Wednesday, 16 September.  If Metro has moved us into Phase 3 of reopening the city by Wednesday 16 September, you will be notified on Wednesday of plans for in person worship!  Session and staff currently are planning and securing equipment needed to return to worship in person and to provide a live feed of worship to those who find it best to remain safer at home.  Those at high risk for CoVid 19 are encouraged to remain home to worship via HPC’s live stream of worship from the sanctuary.  In anticipation of our return to in person worship, we want to notify you now of what to expect in the weeks ahead. 

As we are a community of faith committed to Christ’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), we ask that all worshippers over the age of 2 years old plan to wear a mask while you are participating in worship to decrease the risk of transmission to yourself, your fellow worshippers, and our church staff who are asked to lead, participate in, and/or disinfect the spaces we use.  Please wear your mask once you exit your vehicle on Sundays, all throughout worship, and until you have returned to your vehicle. If you are unable to wear a mask, we ask that you please not attend in-person worship and consider the other ministries available through online worship and Zoom meetings of the church.

In order to enter the facility, all will be required to complete a CoVid 19 Symptom screening that will include a temperature check. We will use current symptom screenings recommended by CDC guidelines.  HPC volunteers are needed to aid in this process — those who are low risk, are welcoming, and have the ability to discretely keep information confidential are being sought to be trained for this needed role for returning to in person worship.  (Contact Pastor Jule or Kathy Osten if you are willing to be trained to help in this role 1-2 times each month).

Note that the church will have a CoVid 19 contact tracing plan in place.  Please know that worshippers will be required to give their name and preferred contact information so notice properly can be given in the event of possible CoVid 19 exposure after worship.  All present will be asked to notify the pastor within a day if they develop CoVid 19 symptoms after attending in person worship.  Pastor Jule will be aided by 1-2 HPC CoVid Response Team members trained to assist in contact tracing.  

Please note that to maintain community health for everyone, all will be asked to remain home to participate through worship via live stream if they have traveled outside the USA or to a known CoVid 19 hotspot in the past 14 days, have been exposed to anyone who has been tested for CoVid 19 in the past 14 days, or if anyone in their household or close contacts know they have or have been exposed to CoVid 19 in the past 14 days.  All present for worship will be asked to notify the pastor within a day if they develop CoVid 19 symptoms after attending in person worship.  

Due to the size of HPC’s sanctuary, seating for in person worship will be limited in the sanctuary to 25 people.  6 feet of social distancing will be required between any worshippers not from the same household.  2-3 people maximum will be able to share one of the ten 10-foot HPC pews open for seating in the sanctuary.  For the safety of all, worshippers are asked to sit only in open pews while keeping 6 feet between them and worshippers not of their own household — please do not remove any reserved signs or taped off seating.  If needed, additional seating for up to 8 people can be made available in the church library for worshippers to be a part of congregational worship via live stream.  We are discouraging carpooling by those not in the same household and especially ask that homebound members are not offered rides to worship during this time.

Bathrooms on the main floor will be open to worshippers for use one person at a time, but the church nursery will remain closed at this time.  No fellowship time will be held and worshippers will be dismissed from worship one row at a time to exit immediately to the parking lot.  No food or beverages will be provided to or shared by any in the facility or on HPC’s grounds.

In order to attend in person worship, each week worshippers will need to notify the church office of their reservation for Sunday worship.  Reservations will require your name, your preferred contact, and the number of people you plan to bring to Sunday worship.  The first 25 reservations received will be able to attend in person in the sanctuary.  Reservations for worship will be able to be made weekly via phone calls and online and details are to follow.  Only reservations beyond 25 will be notified that reservations already are full.  Those at high risk for CoVid 19 are encouraged to remain home to worship via HPC’s live stream of worship. 

As in person gatherings are high risk for CoVid 19 transmission, HPC’s session seeks to care for the wider community, church, and staff by offering only private graveside services for families and only outdoor weddings for families until further notice.  These services must adhere to Metro Nashville’s Phase requirements and HPC’s in person worship standards.  For the safety of all; no baptisms, in person Lord’s Supper, or Ordination and/or Installations will be held until the session deems it is appropriate for scheduling to begin again.  As such, the session will recommend in a called congregational meeting that the congregation suspend the nomination process of 2020 and allow for those currently serving in expiring terms to be re-elected and remain serving (if willing) through installation of officers in 2022 (prior to the end of January 2022).  This would include session, trustees, officers of the corporation, and the nomination committee.  If approved by the congregation, these re-elections will be duly noted to assure proof of election where required by church and state.  

After we have returned to in person worship; the Reopening Team, staff, and session will assess how things are going.  At that time, plans for returning to other in person ministries will be considered.  Until then, all other ministries of HPC will continue to be held in the virtual world (through Zoom or conference calls).  Staff will be encouraged to continue to follow Metro’s reopening phases for work performed beyond Sunday morning worship.  Anyone entering the facility at any other time during the week is to contact Pastor Jule for current entry requirements and pre-entry approval.  For questions regarding a HPC ministry that you lead, contact Pastor Jule prior to making plans with participants.

Note that as approximately 90% of HPC’s members, friends, and staff are known to be in CoVid’s high risk category; in person worship will be started once Metro Nashville is in Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville.  If Nashville reverts to less than Phase 3, the facility will be closed for in person worship until further notice. 

Also note that we anticipate that adjustments will need to be made along the way as we continue to live amid an international pandemic.  As circumstances unfold, you will be notified if in person worship has to be suspended for any reason or if modifications to the worship experience need to be made.  

We recognize that some are looking for ways to re-engage in mission ministries that serve others through HPC’s community partners.  At their own risk, individuals are encouraged to make their personal decisions for serving through involvement with partners like H.G. Hill Middle School, Hillwood High School, Trader Joe’s Belle Meade, Mending Hearts, and others.  Opportunities for service may be published to the congregation for individuals personally to decide what level of risk is acceptable for times of individual mission service to the community.  

We also recognize that not all in the congregation will be comfortable returning to in person ministries any time soon.  Session members remain committed to reaching out monthly to members of their pastoral care groups as Pastor Jule attends to critical needs arising and those requesting contact.  Do not hesitate to contact a session member or Pastor Jule with any need.  Also know we remain committed to finding ways in the future to provide meetings, education, gatherings, and care that simultaneously could take place in person and through the virtual world.  

We thank you for your patience, dedication, and understanding as we seek to come back together in person safely as soon as possible!  Your help will be needed to make our worship ministry possible!  Contact Pastor Jule now if you could be available as a trained symptom screener, building sanitizer, or live-streaming operator.  It will take many parts of the body of Christ working together to return to worship in the sanctuary again!  We will keep you updated on further specific details as those become available.


HPC Session, Reopening Team, Staff, & Pastor Jule