Update from Executive Committee and Church Council Chair John Curtis

 

October 23, 2020

Dear Members and Friends of First UMC,

This news is worthy of the headline position:

WE WILL RESUME INSIDE WORSHIP IN MID-NOVEMBER

Your Executive Committee approved this action at our meeting on October 20th with a unanimous vote. To be sure, there is much planning work yet to be done so the date is not quite firm yet – either November 15th or the 22nd. This is not a complete resumption of our pre-Covid normal Sunday schedule; it will be a modified version to address the varying needs of our congregation.

The plan is to offer inside worship in concert with our existing live-streaming worship services – contemporary worship at 9:30am in the Fellowship Center, and traditional worship at 11am in the Sanctuary. Worship on the lawn will continue at 8:15 – 8:45am. This outside worship service has been a surprising success and has attracted people from our neighborhood and passers-by, along with meeting the needs of our own congregation, so it will continue for now.

The timing of these worship services will allow our Sunday school classes to continue their virtual meetings at 9:30am. We also expect that some of our classes will resume in-person meetings at both outside and inside venues. Individual classes will need to coordinate with Warren Pattison and apply to the Executive Committee for approval of in-person meetings.

Attendance at the inside worship services will observe social distancing. Family groups may sit together with the prescribed six feet between groups and/ or individuals. Masks will be required. There will be no congregational singing. Additionally, reservations will be required. The Fellowship Center will operate at a nominal capacity of 125 people, and the Sanctuary at a nominal capacity of 150 people. These are the highlights – more specific plans regarding the services, arrival, departure, fellowship gathering before and after services, etc., will follow soon.

Funerals and weddings will also be permitted to take place following the same protocol as for worship. Our worship staff is also planning for how we will celebrate Christmas Eve this year and what that combination of services will look like. We are moving forward on many fronts, but we move forward knowing that Covid-19 is still with us and that it remains as the pandemic of our lifetimes, a grave concern to all of us. We have learned a lot about this virus and how to live more safely with it, and we must acknowledge that because there is more yet to be learned, our intended plans could change. This is just part of the uncertainty we accept for now.

I want you to know that beyond worship services there are many of our church activities that have already resumed following guidelines the Executive Committee has established. We consider each activity on its own merit, and in accord with its specific circumstances. A list will be revealing as to what our Church is doing:

  • AA meetings resumed
  • Neighborhood Ministry food distribution took place this summer
  • First Steps Preschool re-opened
  • Neighborhood Ministry daily program resumed.
  • Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are meeting outside
  • Children’s Clothes Closet is at work
  • Live funerals are happening inside and outside
  • Our Giving Tree is open for you (by appointment)
  • Trunk or Treat will happen as a drive-thru event
  • Tuesday Tigers projects are being done.

More events were approved on October 20th:

  • Circle 17 will meet outside with Jose Bove
  • Connections Memory Ministry will meet
  • Genesis Sunday School Class will meet in the Fountain Courtyard, and may soon meet inside again
  • Fellowship/ Newcomers Ministry Committees will meet in the Fellowship Center
  • Coffee with the Pastors will resume (without coffee)
  • Ringers & Singers will begin rehearsals for our December Christmas Concerts (without singing)
  • Grow Staff is resuming monthly meetings

… and the list goes on.

Thank you, Lord, as we are on our way to discovering how First United Methodist Church can serve our congregation and our community in these very different times. I pray that all of you are healthy, and that you act to remain healthy.

In Christ,

John R. Curtis, Chairperson

First UMC Executive Committee

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Lakeland, Florida 33801
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