Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I hope that this letter finds you all well. As we continue to get new information every day about the effects of the Coronavirus, churches around the Michigan Conference, and the rest of the United Methodist denomination have begun to put new polices and procedures into place to ensure the safety of our parishioners and staff. Below you will find the polices and procedures that have been started, and will be put into practice when we are able to return to in-person worship. As of the writing of this letter, we will not be reopening any time before the first Sunday of June. It may be longer than that. Please rest assured that as soon as Bishop Bard gives his blessing on reopening you will be notified!
PLEASE READ THESE POLICES CAREFULLY—remember, that as Christians we must first do no harm, and love our neighbors as ourselves, and as Christ loves us.
**All greeters will wear masks, and either gloves or make sure their hands are properly sanitized. We are asking that shaking hands, hugging, etc. be suspended until such a time as tests, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19 are readily available for anyone who wants or needs one. This means that we will need to be creative in new ways of greeting one another. Examples: bowing, waving, peace sign, or simply Hello!
**We will be asking that all people that are able to wear a mask do so while they are in the building. We will have masks available for those that do not have one, and they will be allowed to keep them. We cannot force anyone to wear a mask, but it is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to ensure the health and safety of all those who are worshiping with us.
**In order to maintain social distancing, we will be encouraging fellowship outside of the building as weather allows. Until such a time as tests, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19 are readily available for anyone who wants or needs one, we will not be having Coffee Fellowship after church.
**We are HIGHLY ENCOURAGING those that are considered in a HIGH RISK demographic use their best judgement on when they would like to return to worship. If you do not feel comfortable attending worship, please let us know how we can best serve you while you continue to self-isolate.
**There will be hand sanitizer readily available throughout the building. The bathrooms will also be fully stocked so that we can wash our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you do not wish to use the hand sanitizer it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you visit the restroom to wash your hands upon entering the building.
**We are asking that we all take our own temperatures at home before we venture out to church. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home. PLEASE respect others that do not wish to have physical contact, even if you feel that you do not want to social distance.
**The sanctuary will be set up to make sure that we are distanced as safely as possible. PLEASE DO NOT remove any of the barriers that are set up to ensure that we can continue to worship together.
**Traditions such as the Offering and Communion will look different until tests, treatments, and vaccines are readily available for anyone who wants or needs one. We will ask that you continue to utilize the mail and online giving. There will be collection plates and/or boxes set up in the church for those who are able to drop their tithes and offerings before or after worship. Communion will be offered in a way that allows us to maintain proper social distance, and to ensure that as few people as possible touch the elements.
**For the foreseeable future, we will not have printed bulletins. We will use our sanctuary screens to communicate the order of worship, as well as verbal instruction from the pulpit.
**It is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED that if you are not wearing a mask that you do not sing during the hymns. Singing creates a higher risk of passing COVID-19 to other people. Please use your judgment as you sing to monitor your body—if you start to feel light headed, please refrain from singing and simply listen to the the glory of the song.
**For the foreseeable future, we will not have choir or children’s church. All children will be encouraged to stay in the sanctuary during the service with their families. In the event that a young one needs to leave the sanctuary, there will be rooms available so that the child and a family member will be able to still hear the service.
Proceed with Grace—we are in a time where we will be doing some trial and error. Our services will look different than many of us are used to. I ask for grace from each of you as we proceed to reopen and do what we are able to ensure the health and safety of all of God’s creation.
Our first service back will be a time to remember those that we have lost during our time away, as well as a time to celebrate milestones. If you have anything that you would like to add to that time in the service, please let me know. We will also be celebrating Holy Communion on our first Sunday back, to celebrate and give thanks to God that we are able to gather again.
I look forward to the time that we can worship together again, whenever that may be. Please be sure to reach out with any questions or concerns to me. My contact information is at the bottom of this letter.
Continued blessings to you all,