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Physically Distancing for Social Connection

Dear Calvin,

I’ve never liked the term “Social Distancing” have you? It’s not that we’re not allowed to be social; we know that social isolation leads to insanity, literally. I recently came across the term, “Physical Distancing”and think it’s a much more accurate description of what we need in this season of COVID. We can be, and in fact I would argue we need to be, Socially Connected while being Physically Distant, or more concisely, Physically Distancing for Social Connection.

It seems that western PA and in fact the entire country is taking a step forward only to take two steps back. This is frustrating for our families, our businesses, our schools, and Calvin as the constantly moving target is forcing us to make and prepare for not just Plan A, but for Plan A, Plan B, Plan C…. Calvin’s COVID Task Force recently shared this concern with Session, who agreed, that Calvin is in this for the long haul and she is craving social connection.

That being the case, sharing all of the plans following CDC and state guidelines for seven upcoming initiatives would be daunting, intimidating and dare we say, wasteful of all our time. Thus, with steadfast faith that with God, all things work together for good, we are sharing thumbnail sketches of these new initiatives. All of them will be subject to change at a moment’s notice:

  1. Calvin Cares 2 Prepare – (August) For several months Youth Formation has been praying, planning (and re-planning) and discerning what we can do for our children. We came up with Calvin Cares 2 Prepare, a 3-week, one-hour, outdoor, time together preparing our PreK-5’s for all the new normal of safety protocols they’ll experience at school by putting on the full armor of God. Our guiding scripture will be a translation of Ephesians 6:13-18, The Full Armor of God that we like to call The COVID Translation: 13Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own, so put on the whole armor of God. Take all the help you can get, every defense God has issued, so that when COVID’s all over and we’re celebrating you’ll still be on your feet. 14Stand and use your personalized pool noodle to be at a physical distance and wear your decorated mask to protect those your love. 15As for your hands, wash them often so that you will be ready to share God’s love. 16Learn how to apply these, you’ll need them throughout your life. 17God’s Word is an indispensable defense. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing challenge. 18Pray hard and long. Pray for your family and school and church. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

  2. The Gathering – (September 12) Zelienople congregations will be going from church to church for various activities. Calvin is planning on following all CDC Guidelines by asking Kelly Casey to make sidewalk art that our guests can add to while Bruce and a band play.

  3. Mission Trip – (July 31-August 6) Bruce, David, Frank Baker and Kim Sebring and 5-6 youth to Camp Westminster, MI. The camp is closed for regular operations so we’ll be helping make sure it’s in good shape for next year. In addition to following all CDC safety guidelines we will only stop during travel for gas and restrooms (i.e., eating pre-packed meals in route).

  4. Calvin College Study Hall – (mid-August forward) At scheduled times on Monday through Friday, socially distanced tables set up in fellowship hall. Students would enter, exit and move about like in restaurants, with masks, but when at table they would be able to take them off if they so choose. No food or drink provided. Restrooms limited to one stall and wiped down after each use. Students would be responsible for wiping down hard surfaces they use.

  5. Calvin Canopy(s) – Thanks to the generosity of Calvin members we have 4, 10’X10’ Canopies Building and Grounds put on our back lawn (between Office and Faith House) for Zelienople Preschool, AA, Holy Yoga, Calvin College Study Hall, Committees and Small Groups, Members and Community to use to safely connect outdoors (always the preference). A schedule will be kept and posted as well as CDC safety guidelines for all to use.

  6. Calvin Committees and Small Groups (mid-August forward) Basically take #4 College Study Hall and apply it to Calvin’s Committees and Small Groups, all of which, would be required to provide a hybrid meeting type where those who wanted to meet at Calvin in person could, and others could meet via Zoom. To keep with Physical Distancing, only one Small Group or Committee could meet at a time, and under the Calvin Canopy unless it’s raining. Special consideration may be considered for Conference Room if the group is four (4) or smaller. Please bring your own chairs and note that if staff are not involved, a member of the group must have a key and know the security system password. Dahn will be coordinating a schedule. If you want to be assured of a space, you must sign up with Dahn (; office 724-452-7560)

  7. Calvin Unplugged – Before a single word was said, a single note was sung, or a prayer was prayed everyone could feel the Spirit of the living God at Frierson Farm on July 18th. So with Physical Distancing for Social Connection in mind, we’re going schedule to do Calvin Unplugged twice a month while the weather cooperates. Current schedule is August 9th at Frierson Farm and August 23rd at Zelienople Park, both at 7:30pm.

GUIDELINES FOR Calvin Unplugged:

Please bring your own chair!

Please DO NOT bring food or drink to share!

Please bring your masks!

Please DO NOT bring that book you need to return…!

Please keep socially distant!

Please DO NOT give into the urge to go hug a friend!

Please come on time!

Please DO NOT stay to talk to anyone afterwards, staff included!

Please come filled with love!

Please DO NOT come with a full bladder (no bathrooms)!

A couple important notes for Calvin Unplugged:

a. Registration – we will be doing a registration online and by phone for planning


b. Ushers – will be necessary to keep us physically distant. Sign ups will be in registration.

c. Radio Worship – for those who want the extra layer of protection of staying in your car, Calvin Unplugged will have a 1,000-foot range FM radio signal broadcasted! Please sign up when you register.

Lastly, and definitely most importantly, THANK YOU! Thank you for your steadfast faith during these challenging times. I pray you realize that how you react to the challenges of COVID around your family, friends and Calvin has a profound impact! While there might be truth in the jest of the meme about how a minister envisions her congregation worshipping online (all in it) and how they actually do it (half paying attention), I too have worshipped lying in bed, on my phone, in my PJ’s with a foot hanging out the window (well maybe not the foot…, but you get the point). Certainly, enjoy the freedom of worshipping online every once in a while. We as a family have even worshipped in the minivan driving back from the Cabin. But let me encourage you to up your worship game. Let me encourage you to practice the “Three S’s of Worship”, Sit, Stand and Sing. Seriously, those are little things, but think about how long you’ve been worshipping that way. Take for example the Centering Breaths we practice, everything we do in those moments send signals to our entire bodies that put us in the right state for worship. So since we’re in this for the long haul, I strongly encourage you to park the smart phone in another room and in addition to practicing the Three S’s of Worship, to sing the songs and pray the prayers. I encourage you to literally act as if you were in the sanctuary, because the more you treat that space and that time as if you were, the more and more it will actually become a sanctuary…WHAT A BLESSING!

Godspeed (on behalf of CCTF)!

Rev. A. David Paul, M.S., M.Div.


Calvin Coronavirus Task Force

Sandy Beahm, MSW

Dr. David English, MD

Vicky English, PT

Donna Galbraith, ER RN

Rev. A. David Paul, MS, MDiv

Jennifer Paul, NICU RN

Dr. Peter Sylves, DO


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