While we are not gathering together in the church building, we continue to find ways to gather together spiritually as the body of Christ.  Please review the guidance below for how the church is operating during this time.

April 21, 2021
Session approved updates to Reopening Plan, which are reflected below.  The summary document below does not include all decisions made by Session regarding COVID-19, but does provide general guidance for congregational activities.  Other decisions include sanitation procedures, bathroom use, and non-church property users.  

It is helpful to remember the following:
1) Our plan does not correlate with the Washington State "Road to Recovery" Phases.  Session votes to move us from one phase to another.
2) Session can skip between Phases, they do not need to be followed in order.
3) We are currently testing indoor meetings, and if approved for the congregation, this plan will be updated.

We are currently operating in Phase Two of the plan below.
March 17, 2021
Session approved updates to Phase Three of the Reopening Plan.  Additionally, Session is testing a plan that allows for limited indoor meetings to be held.  If the test goes well, then indoor meetings will be able to be held in the church and this page will be updated.
March 6, 2021
As the number of cases in Pierce County has dropped significantly, Session has voted for us to operate with Phase Two guidelines of our reopening plan.  
November 19, 2020
In response to the significant increase in Covid-19 cases in our community, Session has decided to move us to Phase One. Within Phase One, the office is closed and there are no in-person gatherings.  We are currently working with the leaders of our various ministries to move forward in light of the restrictions.  More information will be shared as it is available.
September 16, 2020
This month our Ruling Elders approved the following updates to the Preliminary Reopening Plan:
  • Groups of 10 or less may meet in the church garage with the garage door and rear double doors open, while following all other guidelines including wearing face coverings, social distancing, and wiping down high-touch surfaces after use.
  • Church bathrooms may be used one person at a time, with a requirement for each user to wipe down high touch surfaces when they are done and exit the building afterward.  All people are still encouraged to use the restroom at home prior to coming to church.
  • The church van may be used by up to three people who are spaced six feet apart.  Users must keep the windows open for airflow and wear masks.  All other restrictions on the van use remain in effect.
July 22, 2020
Our Ruling Elders have approved updates to the Preliminary Reopening Plan.  These include:
  • Requiring small group organizers to email participant lists to the main office within 48 hours after a gathering for contact tracing.
  • Due to the possibility of aerosol transmission, no singing at small group gatherings.
  • Individuals can bring their own food or drinks to gatherings as long as it is not shared.
  • Additional guidance regarding exceptions to the plan and our non-church facility users.
July 2, 2020

Dear Friends:
As we read through the Psalms together, we hold lament in one hand and praise in the other.  Amidst the regulations on daily life, the non-stop news, and the separation from others, we know grief too well.  At the same time, we find joy in connecting with each other across distances and finding new and creative ways to be the church.  As you navigate this time personally, we trust that you know the church continues to be here to support you.
On May 27, Session voted to form a Task Force charged with creating a recommended plan for the church during the pandemic.  Don Johnson, Valerie Emly, Anne Bennett, Kevin Engle, and John Asher agreed to serve, and devoted themselves to study, prayer, and seeking the Spirit in discerning a way forward for Shepherd during this time.  The Task Force reviewed plans and regulations from the government, the national PC(USA), neighboring presbyteries and faith communities, our insurance, and other resources.  The Task Force highly recommends watching the message below from PC(USA) Stated Clerk, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, especially if you are eager for us to gather again soon in-person.

The Task Force took these resources and created goals for the plan.  Here is a summary:1) Promote the safety of the entire congregation.
2) Operate within the government’s regulations.
3) Provide an equal opportunity to worship.
The Task Force did not want to restrict worship participation by age or health conditions.
4) Avoid a “split” congregation.
If the pandemic continues, the congregation could become split if both in-person and Zoom worship are offered. We want to be together.
5) Weigh Costs and Benefits.
If planning and executing one activity leads to draining resources and time around other ministries, both options shall be weighed carefully regarding costs and benefits.
Using these goals as a guide, the Task Force created a plan based on the state’s phases.  For Phases Two and Three, the plan opens the option for small group of 15 or less to meet outside on church property.  For church sponsored activities at a member’s home, the limit is 10 people or less.  Face coverings and social distancing are required.  Now, if desired, bible study and fellowship groups can meet in-person.  We can also do in-person mission projects and book studies.  If a group chooses to meet in-person, we encourage you to provide a way for people to join remotely who wish to.  In addition, a plan is underway to form Sunday morning groups for worship and fellowship.  This plan has been approved by Session.
In-person worship is planned to restart in Phase Four.  At that time, for those who need to stay home, we plan on having a quality livestream online available.  The Task Force continues to work on a detailed plan for this phase.
This plan is subject to change, because for the foreseeable future COVID-19 will dictate our visions and our realities.  Session will vote to approve anytime we move between phases, it will not happen automatically.  We pledge to move promptly, thoughtfully, and faithfully as a church as we respond to how the pandemic evolves.
We thank you for your patience and willingness to embrace new methods of being the church during this time.  At no point has the church closed or Shepherd of the Hill stopped.  Together as the united Body of Christ, we will continue to love God, love our neighbors, and bring light to Puyallup and beyond.
The Session of Shepherd of the Hill, the Task Force, and Pastor John Asher
June 7, 2020
Session has approved the following practices when we are on church property:
Social Distancing
1. At all times, all reasonable efforts should be made to maintain 6ft separation from people outside of one’s household.
Face Coverings
1. When on church property, a person must have a face covering on their person. Face coverings are provided to those who request them via the office ahead of time.
2. When inside the church facilities, the use of a face-covering is required.
3. When outside of church facilities (i.e. the parking lot), face coverings are not required if social distance can be maintained. If social distance cannot be maintained, face coverings should be used.
4. Those with medical conditions that make face coverings unsafe are exempted from face covering requirements.
When Leaving Facilities
1. Upon leaving the church facility, a sanitizing wipe should be used to clean high-touch surfaces that were used. These wipes will be provided.
May 27, 2020
Greetings Shepherd of the Hill Family,
Blessings to you on this beautiful day!  In March, your church elders voted to follow the Stay at Home order issued by Governor Inslee.  This afternoon, the Governor released new guidelines for religious communities meeting in-person.  It's understandable that there will be a wide range of reactions to this news, as we all bring our own perspectives to this development.  It's important to note that the first line of the Governor's new guidance states "if possible, spiritual worship should continue to be done remotely or at a drive-in service."
The duty before us is to continue to discover how we should live out our calling as the church in this unique time with discernment and wisdom.  Your church elders have approved a plan to meet that challenge.  Earlier today, Session voted to create a Task Force charged with making recommendations to Session regarding our ministries, worship, and facility use in light of Covid-19.  This Task Force includes Don Johnson, Valerie Emly, Anne Bennett, Kevin Engle, and myself.
This group will be convening soon and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.  I ask that you pray for the Task Force and this evolving situation.  In doing so, I humbly request that you don't pray for a particular outcome.  Instead, let us pray for God's wisdom to reign in our hearts. Let us pray that we give grace to those with whom we disagree.  And perhaps most of all, let us pray for those who face the realities of the pandemic on a minute-to-minute basis.  For:
"The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." - James 3:17
Thank you for caring about the church, the ministry, and our fellowship.  Grace and peace be with you,
John Asher, Pastor