Update from Pastor Chris 5/28/20

Dear Congregation and Friends of Asbury UMC,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

I want to thank you for your patience and understanding during these past months. We have found
ourselves in a new normal. We are in uncharted territory and there is no map to guide us in our
personal lives and in the life of the church. The only constant is a God that never changes and is always present. For that, we give thanks.

As we end our week, here are the latest updates for Asbury UMC:

  • We will be hosting a drive-in worship service on the evening of Saturday, June 6, 2020. The service will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of our church. In order to promote social distancing, members will remain in their cars and be directed where to park by parking lot ushers. We will also celebrate communion during this service. Please remember to bring your bread/cracker and grape juice with you to the service.
  • Upon guidance from Bishop Carter and his cabinet, congregations can consider in-person worship services after June 15. I have been in ongoing conversation with the Committee Chairpersons, the Lay Leader, and the Lay Member to Annual Conference to begin planning our return. Due to my being away on Father’s Day to grieve my family’s failed adoption last September, our first Sunday back will be no earlier than June 28 but could change to later due to the time needed for adequate preparation. I understand that because of the virus, modifications to our worship and sanctuary will need to be made. The Annual Conference is providing guidance for reopening, and the leadership is diligently working to create procedures for our return. These new procedures and our official restart date will be communicated to you following Father’s Day.
  • I understand that some have a desire to restart as soon as possible. However, we must be aware that, like most things in life, not everyone is in agreement. We remember that many in our congregation fall within the high-risk category, and they are nervous about our new normal. That is a perfectly valid response. As Christians, we are called upon to care for all of our brothers and sisters. Therefore, the leadership will do our best to open as safely and responsibly as we can in order to minimize the potential for exposure. Unfortunately, this will take time and possibly longer than some of you would like. Again, I thank you for your continued understanding, patience, and grace during this time.
  • All of our worship services will continue to be accessible online on our website and Facebook page. The worship service will be posted to our website and Facebook page on a delayed basis, until we determine the best way to stream our services live. We understand that many individuals will be reluctant to return in the immediate future, and we will provide you an opportunity to continue to worship.
  • I thank those of you who have continued to give your tithes and offerings. We may not be gathering weekly, but the church is still active. We are still supporting our ministries and missions in this time of great need. Just this week, we were able to assist an individual with groceries due to financial hardship. To help in your giving, there is a link on our webpage (http://asburyop.com) that will allow you to submit your tithes and offerings via a credit/debit card or transfer from your checking or savings account. You will also have the ability to check a box on the form to offset the processing fees associated with this method. Of course, you are also welcome to use Bill Pay through your bank or to mail a check (16 College Dr., Orange Park, FL 32065)
  • On Tuesday evenings, at 6:30 P.M., Charissa and I are continuing to live stream a short evening prayer service on our Facebook page. We invite you to join us as we pray and sing hymns. Although we are apart, we are still able to be in intentional community.
  • Upon guidance from the Conference, the church office is still closed. Bethany and I are still able to be reached by calling the church phone number or by email. The church phone number has been forwarded and will be answered. Emails will be answered. Should you have any questions, please reach out to the church by phone (904.272.0110) or email info@asburop.com. You can also reach me by email (pastor@asburyop.com) Each and every one of you remain in my thoughts and prayers. I encourage you to continue to stay safe and follow the instructions of local health officials and the CDC. Remember that we follow the commandment to love our neighbor by looking out for their health by wearing masks and social distancing. May God continue to bless you with the grace and love that is greater than our fears!

In Christ,
Pastor Chris