Nearly two months after our return to in-person worship, I know I’m not alone in expressing how wonderful it is to join together in worship through gathering, hearing God’s Word, celebrating the Sacraments of Communion and Baptism, and being sent out again to be salt and light in the world. Even for those who are gathering with us through the gift of technology, we are hearing how good it has been to share in the energy of a live service.
I’ve heard from many of you who are disheartened, even angry, about the recent rise in COVID case numbers and hospitalizations. It’s frustrating to watch a preventable disaster, especially when it has consequences on all of our lives. I am reminded of good advice: to take responsibility for the things I can control, and then set the rest before God, who continues to hold all of us–even those with whom I am the most frustrated.
As I think about the things we can control, I want to share with you our current status at FUMC to ensure you have the info you need. Here’s where we are:
- Our current worship practices are not changing. We continue to require registration and masking for all congregants (and we thank you for your incredible adherence to this expectation). Our services are limited to 220 registrants (30% of Sanctuary capacity), with every other pew blocked for distanced seating. You can find more information about what to expect in worship on our Worship Services Page.
- Current APH guidelines discourage unvaccinated people from attending large gatherings. Based on self-reporting, at least 98% of attendees (12 and older) at our worship gatherings are vaccinated. We understand that there is a variety of comfort levels among parents of unvaccinated children. We’ve heard from a number of families who continue to feel comfortable bringing children to worship, often attending the 9:00 service or choosing seats in the sparsely-populated balcony. We support you in making decisions that are right for your family, and we are here to help you. We only ask that you monitor children, to keep them from dropping legos onto the people below!🙂
Classes, Groups, and Events
- We are now requiring all attendees in classes, groups, and meetings to wear a mask the entire time they are together, in line with revised recommendations from the CDC. Thank you in advance for making this adjustment; you all have an incredible ability to place purpose over preference.
- For the remaining Summer Sundays, our children’s Sunday School classes will meet exclusively outside. Starting August 15, classes will be indoors in smaller groups, with only one grade level per classroom. This model is contingent upon having enough volunteers, so please notify Lara Greene, Director of Children’s Ministry, if you are interested in teaching or assisting in a children’s Sunday School class (even once or twice per month). WE NEED YOU!
- In general, we are planning a full season of church programming for the fall. Events are being modified as needed for COVID safety, and we are excited about the level of interest and participation. If the COVID case level continues to rise–and we expect that it will for a little while–we will modify as needed and cancel events only as we believe it’s necessary. Our staff and volunteers are as flexible as the USA Gymnastics Team!
Friends, there are safe ways at this time to gather for worship and fellowship, to serve our neighbors in need, and to learn and grow in the love of God. The creativity at work in this congregation is unparalleled and, for those who are ready, there is plenty of ministry to do. Please be mindful that we are in great need of volunteers in nearly every area; whether it’s helping with Powerpoint in worship, teaching Sunday School, assembling Communion bags, or preparing breakfast for our neighbors, we need each person in the congregation to do their part in order to “make church happen.”
I thank God for each of you, and I remind you that God is with you. If you have questions or concerns, or if you’d just like to talk about your own return to in-person ministry, please reach out to me or one of our pastors or program staff members. We are here to help you as we journey together through unknown territory.
May each of you experience God’s peace today!