About Us

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Reopening FAQs

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is excited to reopen the doors at Fifth & 55th. We are eager to gather in-person for meetings and for worship. We will make our way toward “normal operations” in a series of three steps.

On May 18, 2021, the Session and Trustees approved a reopening plan in three phases:

  • PHASE ONE
    The ground floor and CEC of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will open for midweek meetings on June 1.
  • PHASE TWO
    The Weber Terrace (and additional interior spaces) at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will open for gatherings and meetings on July 6. The chapel will be available for midweek worship services, memorial services and weddings.
  • PHASE THREE
    The full opening of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church building and resumption of in-person, Sunday morning worship will be on Homecoming Sunday—September 12, 2021. Details on Phase Three will be shared in August to capture the latest health protocols and NY State guidelines.

Challenges

Opening the Curry Church House and returning to meetings and worship in the sacred space that we love so dearly is a challenging enterprise. As we emerge into a less-and-less restrictive phase of the pandemic, official protocols and recommendations are changing—almost daily. As we move forward, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, its staff and leadership, will carefully monitor official government policies and best practices for religious institutions. We will adjust this plan when needed and when prudent. We are dedicated to keeping you safe and to communicating changes to you.

At this time, we would also like to highlight an important and somewhat unique challenge that Fifth Avenue faces in reopening. As we have reported, this spring our architect identified disconcerting movement in the support system of the sanctuary attic. Structural engineers have assessed the situation and we are in the process of moving forward to make the necessary repairs in an urgent manner.

This is an extensive project that will necessitate moving attic sprinkler pipes and it will involve taking the Sanctuary’s fire protection system off-line. We will need to bring in structural steel, possibly by crane, to strengthen existing ceiling supports. At the same time, carpenters will be building other new supports for the ceiling from wood.

We did not expect to have to do this work at this time, but it is critically important for the safety of our congregation and for the long-term preservation of our sanctuary that we do this work now. We are pursuing this project on a very aggressive schedule. Praying that there will be no hiccups in this process, we are planning for the Sanctuary to be available for worship in early September—for Homecoming Sunday, September 12, 2021.

PHASE ONE: June 1

Partial Opening of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
FAQs of Facilities, Worship and Music, Outreach Activities and Family Ministries

FACILITIES

Q. How has Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church made it safe for congregants to return? 

A. Our Fifth Avenue Reopening Task Force, the Session and our entire staff have been diligently planning and preparing for reopening the building. These preparations include cleaning and disinfecting all rooms, restrooms and surfaces; mandating that everyone in the building wear masks; ensuring that our central air conditioning system will circulate purified air into all meeting spaces; laying out a people traffic and seating map that enables social distancing; and placing additional hand sanitizing stations inside and outside the building. 

Q. How will the church reduce the chance that someone who is carrying the virus might visit the building?

A. We are asking anyone who has any symptoms of illness (e.g., cough, elevated temperature, body aches) not enter the church at this time. We will be asking screening questions of those who wish to enter. We will post signage stating these policies at our entrance. We will reiterate this in all communications related to events in the buildings and ask that all meeting conveners do the same.

Q: What can I do to help?

A. Experts say that:

  1. Getting the vaccine,
  2. Wearing a mask, and
  3. Continued social distancing

are still the most important things we can do to prevent the virus from spreading. For the time being, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church will require that everyone entering the facility wear a mask while in the building and adhere to the rules that we are putting in place.
 
Q. Do you have to be vaccinated to enter the church?

A. We strongly recommend that all staff, officers, members, friends and visitors to the church who can (medically) get vaccinated do so. We acknowledge that there are some people who cannot be vaccinated. Herd immunity depends on those who can get jabbed, getting jabbed!

Q. Will you be taking temperatures at the door?

A. No, but we will be asking screening questions on our sign-in sheet.

Q. What hours will the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church building be open?

A. Beginning June 1, the Church building will be open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am – 5 pm and Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 am – 8 pm. During these hours, just the first floor (excluding the Sanctuary) and the Christian Education Center (CEC) will be open for scheduled activities and meetings.
 
Q. Which entrances will be open? How will this be organized?

A. Beginning June 1, our 55th Street building entrance will be open. We will ask all persons to sign in at the security desk, to answer screening questions, and to provide necessary contact information before heading to any scheduled activities and meetings.

Q. I am on a Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church committee or in a community group. Will we be able to schedule a committee (or community group) meeting in the church building over the summer? 

A. Yes. All attendees must be registered. Individuals will be asked to sign in at the security desk, answer screening questions, and provide necessary contact information. On leaving, individuals will need to sign out. If you would like to schedule a meeting at the church, please click here to complete the request. Once your room is reserved, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have questions about a room reservation, please email or call Katie Miller at [email protected].

Q. Will I be required to wear a mask while I am in the church buildings? What if I don’t have one with me?

A. Yes, at this time, you will need to wear a mask. We know that masks feel uncomfortable to some. We are also confident that you will show your love for neighbor in a real and tangible way as we move through the later stages of this pandemic by wearing a mask. We are committed to the safety of all who enter our doors. We encourage you to arrive with your own mask and we will have new masks available for anyone who is not wearing one.

Q. How is our central air conditioning monitored and by whom? 

A. Our central air conditioning has a permit with the NYC Department of Buildings. The NYC Fire Department does an on-site annual inspection of equipment and annual permits are issued.

Q. How is the air filtered and how is the system maintained?

A. Fifth Avenue contracts with a provider that specializes in maintaining high-rise commercial air conditioning equipment. Each of our air handler units is checked monthly and air filters are replaced. There are 2 sets of filters on each unit. We use a standard 2-inch pleated merv 8 filters along with 12-inch-thick cartridge filters with 95% efficiency ratings. New York Construction once awarded Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church as ‘Renovation Project of the Year’ for the installation of our central air-conditioned system. Additionally, the church won the First Place in Technology award by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.)

In response to Covid-19, we have chemically cleaned and sanitized all of Fifth Avenue’s cooling and heating coils. Additionally, we increased the amount of fresh air intake to each air handler and will have installed an active air purification system installed in Chapel and the Sanctuary, LaDane Williamson Christian Education Center and the Curry Church House before June 1.

Q. How is our cooling tower maintained and by whom?

A. Our cooling tower is registered with New York City and New York State and we follow all Department of Health protocols for cooling towers. Our chemicals are maintained by a licensed chemical company that tests them with an outside laboratory. Fifth Avenue retains oversight over our cooling tower through an independent environmental consultant and our annual certifications are submitted to the Department of Health for approval.

WORSHIP

Q. What sort of worship services will be offered during the summer?

A. We will offer a new, online Sunday worship service every week throughout the summer. The clergy and Dr. Jackson will be introducing midweek, in-person prayer services in the Kirkland Chapel during the summer. At this time, these services will not involve congregational singing because New York State restrictions continue to compel 12 feet of social distancing between people who are singing.

Q. Will services continue to be available on-line in the fall?

A. Yes. We are excited to announce that in the fall our 11 am service will begin to be broadcast online “live” in a streaming format accessible through the church’s website. The 11 am service will be also be taped, edited and posted (by late Sunday afternoon) to our YouTube channel and fapc.org in an on-demand format.

Q. Why are we waiting until September to return to the sanctuary?

A. As reported earlier, our architect recently identified disconcerting movement in the support system of the sanctuary attic. Structural engineers have assessed the situation and we are in the process of moving forward to make the necessary repairs in an urgent manner. This is an extensive project that will necessitate moving attic sprinkler pipes and taking the Sanctuary’s fire protection system off-line. We will be bringing in structural steel, possibly by crane, to strengthen existing ceiling supports and carpenters will be building new supports from wood as well. We did not expect to have to do this work at this time, but it is important for the safety of our congregation and for the long-term preservation of our sanctuary that we do this work now. We are pursuing this project on an aggressive schedule and hope, that if we have no hiccups in the process, the Sanctuary will be available and usable for worship in early September.

Q. Can you describe the ceiling challenges in more detail?

A.  We can think of the oval-shaped Sanctuary ceiling as an egg. That egg is suspended in an outer box. The structural connections that are holding this ‘egg’ secure in that box are original to the building and have recently been shown to be compromised. Engineers are confident these structural connections can be fully restored.

Q. Will we be able to use the sanctuary on September 11, 2021, the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks?

A. We are planning on this, but (again) Sanctuary use depends on the repairs staying on schedule. Hoping for the best, we are working on a special Worship Service of Remembrance for that day, Saturday, September 11, 2021.

Q. Will we be back in the sanctuary for Homecoming Sunday, September 12, 2021?

A. This is our plan! Barring unforeseen complications or delays in the Sanctuary ceiling repairs, we will be together in the sanctuary on Homecoming Sunday!

OUTREACH MINISTRY

Q. How is the church continuing to serve vulnerable populations, such as the homeless?

A. We continue to care for the vulnerable through Outreach Ministries and our ongoing programs such as Meals on Heels, A Place at the Table and the Ecumenical Outreach Partnership (EOP).

  • Meals on Heels has doubled its meal preparation and delivery since the onset of Covid-19. See volunteer activities (below) to learn how you can participate in this effort.
  • A Place at the Table was started at the beginning of the pandemic to support those experiencing hunger. Today, A Place at the Table regularly feeds 120 to 160 people a week who identify as food, housing and economically insecure. 
  • Ecumenical Outreach Partnership (EOP) continues to serve a similar population with case management services, counseling, referrals, and meals. EOP operates on Mondays to Thursdays each week. In Q1 of 2021, EOP accounted for 2,017 on-site client visits to the program.

Q. How is the church prioritizing the health and safety of homeless clients and other vulnerable populations?

A. Through EOP and Ryan Health, the church recently provided a vaccination event for our homeless and vulnerable populations. We will continue to provide a mobile clinic to individuals to support community health outcomes. Each month, the Ryan Health mobile clinic is scheduled to come curbside during a Wednesday mealtime.

Q. What space is EOP using to support homeless clients and other vulnerable populations?

A. EOP primarily uses two program spaces. On Mondays and Wednesdays, clients receive meals and hygiene items outside, along 55th street. Clients must be masked and observe social distancing guidelines in queue. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, clients are invited into the Kirkland Chapel to wait prior to case management services. Social distancing and capacity limitations are strictly followed and to enter the building, clients must be masked.

Q. What volunteer activities can I participate in now? 

A. Meals on Heels is welcoming volunteers for Saturday meal delivery. The delivery shift starts at 11:15 am and generally concludes around 1 pm. All volunteers will need to wear a mask and observe other practices like social distancing to protect the health and safety of our homebound guests. New volunteers are welcome and all questions related to volunteering at Meals on Heels can be sent to [email protected].

Q. When will the David B. Skinner Shelter reopen?

A. The Shelter continues to remain closed for the health and safety of our homeless guests and volunteers. We are waiting for information from state and local agencies on how congregant shelters will operate in conjunction with the on-going health pandemic. Once information is available from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), we will update this FAQ. 

FAMILY MINISTRIES

Q. How will Sunday School and Youth Group be held?

A. Sunday school and Youth Group will finish on Zoom in May and will start up again in-person on Homecoming Sunday, September 12 using state guidelines and cleaning procedures. Please see the section on Facilities for more information about airflow, air purification in the Christian Education Center.

Q. Will there be any Family Ministries activities during Phase One?

A. There will be some scheduled outdoor events throughout the summer. All participants will need to wear masks and socially distance appropriately. We will also have our Fifth Avenue Kids Camp virtually, August 2nd-6th from 10:00 am-12:00 pm. There will be singing, crafts, Bible stories, games and more fun! 

Q. How can I volunteer?

A. We are always looking for amazing volunteers for Family Ministries. If you are interested in volunteering virtually for Vacation Bible School (August 2-6) or in-person for Fall Sunday School and Youth Group, please contact us at [email protected] All in-person adult volunteers will need to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

PHASE TWO: July 6

Further opening of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church building
FAQs of Facilities, Worship and Music, Outreach activities and Family Ministries

Q. When will we have the opportunity to hold meetings on the Weber Terrace located on the 7th floor of the Curry Church House?

A. The Weber Terrace will officially open on July 6! This beautiful new space will be officially dedicated when Randy and Cindy Weber can visit us in the fall. However, the Webers are excited that the terrace can now be an outside meeting space for church members to use this summer.

Q. How many people can be on the Weber Terrace at the same time?

A. During this time of Covid-19, the Weber Terrace can have up to 28 people at a time. This allows for social distancing and, per NY State guidance, groups may opt to take their masks off. There is patio furniture on the Terrace which creates a casual meeting area. It can get warm on the Terrace and sunglasses are encouraged. If you would like to schedule a meeting at the church, please click here to complete the request. Once your room is reserved, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have questions about a room reservation, please email or call Katie Miller at [email protected].

Q. In Phase Two, what hours will the Church building be open? 

A. The hours will remain the same as Phase One: Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am – 5 pm and Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 am – 8 pm. During these hours the first floor (excluding the Sanctuary), the Christian Education Center (CEC) and the 7th floor Fifth Avenue Terrace will be open for scheduled activities and meetings. If you would like to schedule a meeting at the church, please click here to complete the request. Once your room is reserved, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have questions about a room reservation, please email or call Katie Miller at [email protected].

** All other FAQs from Phase One apply to Phase Two

PHASE THREE: September

Full opening of the Fifth Avenue Church building.
Details and FAQs on Phase Three will come in August so they can capture the latest health protocols as we prepare worship and sing in-person.