See the letter below from our Healthy Church Team to find out the plans we are making for resuming in-person worship.
Friday, July 17, 2020
Dear Members of WUMC,
Greetings in Christ’s name! Your Healthy Church Team continues to meet and press forward toward in-person worship with appropriate safeguards. Our resumption of in-person worship and on-site ministry will follow Governor Northam’s state guidelines, those of the CDC, and the requirements of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our life together as the Church will look and feel different for some time.
At present, we are working with a consultant to ensure that live-stream worship is accessible to all with a web connection, as we understand that many will choose to worship from home. When we resume in-person worship, we will offer one worship service per week, accommodating roughly 110 in-person worshipers with appropriate social distancing. Worshipers will verify to a greeter at the door that they are not experiencing symptoms of illness, by means of a poster provided by the Virginia Conference. Their names and contact information will be recorded by the greeter as they are admitted. [See https://vaumc.org/from-the-bishop-manual-health-form-updates/].
On Sunday mornings, worshipers may begin arriving 40 minutes prior to the start of worship. All will park in the church parking lot to the rear of our building, and all will enter through the banner entrance. Two greeters will warmly welcome you, admit you via the process described above and provide additional logistical information. Only those wearing a face covering will be allowed into the building; the face covering must be worn for the duration of your time on the church campus. Face coverings are the foremost method to prevent the COVID illness from spreading, and thus their use is not optional. If a person is unable to wear a mask, scarf or bandana across their mouth and nose, then by Conference rules they will not be able to attend in-person worship for the present season.
All worshipers will be directed by an usher through the atrium to the narthex, and the usher will walk you to your designated seats. People will be seated from the front of the sanctuary to the back in the order in which you arrive, one individual or family at a time. We need six greeters and six ushers to provide for safety procedures for each worship service. If you feel called to support in-person worship in this way, contact the church office (229-1771) for more information.
Once in the Sanctuary, you will note the absence of hymnals, Bibles, attendance pads, literature, pens/pencils, and children’s activity materials in order to eliminate high-touch areas. The worship service will also be quite different, as we are unable to share the peace through handshakes or hugs, circulate offering plates, and celebrate communion in our accustomed manner. As the novel coronavirus spreads via aerosols, by Conference rules we are unable to have choral or congregational singing or corporate spoken responses. We will, however, enjoy wonderful organ and piano music, (socially distanced) bell ringers and orchestra, as our music and worship leaders are prepared creatively to lead us in connecting with God and one another.
Designated restrooms will be available for use on Sunday, and only one person will be permitted in the restroom at a time. Water fountains will be shut off.
At the end of the service, all worshipers will remain seated, and the ushers will guide those exiting row by row, back to front. Unfortunately, we cannot linger for our typical fellowship over refreshments.
Before resuming in-person worship, we hope to begin inviting smaller groups back into the building for support, fellowship, Bible study, service and ministry-area work. Our earliest priority is the welcoming back of our AA, NA and other survival/recovery groups and other missional needs.
Throughout the process of resuming in-person ministry and ultimately in-person worship, to occur no sooner than Sunday, August 30, the Healthy Church Team will review and adapt processes as we learn.
The tasks that must be completed before we return to in-person worship include:
- Finalize the Healthy Church Team Plan for approval by our District Superintendent, Healthy Church Team and the Church Council. (accountable party: Betsy Harrison)
- Review of plan by our insurance company. (George White and Betsy Harrison)
- Ensuring that our technology will permit livestreaming of our worship service on Week One, to accommodate the needs of all persons. (Dave Rochford)
- Securing six ushers and six greeters for worship each week. (Debbie Bruss or Terri Morgan)
- Keeping current on local Covid-19 cases and reports. (Dr. Steve Shield)
- Updating our communication to members and visitors on our website, e-notes, email, Facebook and church signage. (Connie Bland, Lianne Koch, and Pastors)
- Continue to provide meaningful online worship. (Lou-Anne Smith, Tom Marshall, Anthony Williams and Pastors)
No one needs to be told that these are daunting revisions to our usual comforts and practices. But we recognize that we have a sacred responsibility to God, to one another and to our Williamsburg community to take appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of infection at an extraordinary time. As we make progress in our planning and preparation, we will keep you posted. May God bless and keep you until we meet again,
Betsy Harrison and the Healthy Church Team [Connie Bland, Debbie Bruss, Rev. Meghan Roth Clayton, Roy Geiger, Anne Hardister, Lianne Koch, Terri Morgan, Laura Pittman, Rev. Dave Rochford, Dr. Stephen Shield, Lou-Anne Smith, George White, Greg Whiteside, and Anthony Williams]
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