COVID-19 Resumption of Public Worship Guidelines

The One Board (Church Council) has been meeting weekly by video conference throughout the weeks of COVID-19 closures. We have been praying, learning, studying and discerning information from a variety of sources, including our Bishop Scott Jones. Recently, we sent out a survey to get your input and check-in (the surveys were due back June 5).  While we are still putting the data together, the majority of the respondents, indicated that when they return to church they would do so cautiously.  During all of the One Board discussions, the primary concern is how to protect each and every member of our congregation. We know and have heard from you that you are ready to meet in person. These are the plans for Phase One of our return to public worship. Online worship will continue for those who are unable to attend in-person.

Whatever our Church does in its gatherings and other ministries expresses our understanding of who God is, what it means to be disciples of Jesus, and how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses to what God intends for the world

“Lord, help us to be a family of faith; to worship you, learn, grow in your likeness, and serve you by serving others”.  

This is the prayer we developed as a United Church during one of our previous crises. It is the essence of who we are. In times of crisis, when we must address new and challenging practical concerns, our basic theological convictions still apply: love of God and neighbor; regard for human bodies and fellowship; worship and sacraments; inclusive hospitality that welcomes all and avoids stigmatizing others; and the beauty of God, the world, and human creativity .

Phase One

Beginning Sunday, July 5, 2020, First UMC Orange will resume in-person worship.

We will continue to monitor the health guidelines and situation within our community and consider ourselves in “Disaster Mode,” as we were following Hurricane Ike in 2008.

  • Self-screen: We ask that each person self monito before attending. Do not attend if you feel you have respiratory problems, don’t feel well, or have a fever.
  • One worship service at 10 am in the Family Life Center: The style will be blended and similar to what we have presented online with a shorter time format. While there is more room in the sanctuary, it is not adequately equipped for this pandemic.  To avoid potential contamination and spread, we will not be using hymnals, passing our bulletins, or distributing other handouts.  The Family Life Center is equipped to show all of this on the screen so that all may still participate.
  • Facial Coverings: We ask that everyone wear a facial covering.  There has been much debate about this topic nationally and within our community.  One objective of this is to limit potential transmission of the virus from someone who is asymptomatic from spreading the disease to someone who has a higher risk.  Remember this is Phase 1. As we get more data, this will continually be evaluated. Please bring your own mask.  The church will have a limited supply to provide for those who arrive and do not have a mask. 
  • Hand Sanitizer will be available in the entrance.
  • Chairs will be spread out in clusters of two or three with 6 feet in-between. We are working to determine a safe capacity of the Family Life Center.  We ask that families sit in family groups properly distanced from others.  We all love each other and truly want to see each other.  We are a community, a family as we describe in our church prayer.
  • Baskets will be placed near the entrance to the worship space for your offering, as you arrive or as you leave. We continue to recommend online or electronic giving through your financial institution. 
  • Holy Communion will be shared with the utmost care by adhering to CDC and denominational guidelines.
  • Other Physical Distancing: We are also working on how we will get people in and out of the facility.  This is task that will fall to the ushers and greeters.  Training will be scheduled prior to gathering. Worship will be dismissed in an orderly fashion to allow distance between congregants. There will be no gatherings prior to worship or following.
  • No Nursery will be available.
  • Sunday School Classes will not meet.
  • The Welcome Center will not be open. Feel free to bring your own coffee in a container from home.

We have taken a cautious and slow re-entry to gathering together. During this pandemic, love of neighbor requires careful planning. Because we love God, we want to offer worship that brings out our very best and welcomes the Holy Spirit.  Because we love our neighbors, we want to offer a worship that makes sure we bring no harm to others when we gather. It is our obligation to protect those who may be at a higher risk. Some may see these guidelines as hardships and restrictive, but they are designed for the greater good of all of our people. These are challenging times and small acts of kindness and generosity are powerful witnesses to the Love of God through Jesus Christ and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in our Christian community and in our lives.

 

Grace and Peace,

Greg Defrates Lani Rousseau

Greg Defrates, One Board Chair Rev. Lani Rousseau, Pastor

 

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