Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ!
Back in March, as the COVID-19 pandemic started to make its presence known in our country, under the direction of the State and our Annual Conference, we ceased having in-person worship and moved to having worship opportunities online. Never could we have imagined that we would have been unable to gather together in-person, in groups for as long as we have. However, in concern for your safety and following the guidance from health officials, we knew that we needed to continue to delay in-person worship. However, as COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in our state, the time has come to once again open our doors.
As you and I both know, life during the COVID-19 pandemic is different than what we once knew. Our shopping habits, travel plans, and eating arrangements are all different, as we work together as human beings to reduce the spread of the virus. Because of the impact of COVID-19, we are experiencing a new normal. As such, churches will also have to make changes to be responsible in our current environment. As Asbury UMC prepares to relaunch in-person worship services this coming Sunday, August 23, here is some vital information that you will need to know:
- If you are feeling sick or if you are uncomfortable in venturing out in public, please stay home. Our services will continue to be available online for your viewing pleasure.
- To allow for social distancing during worship, the seating will be limited in our sanctuary. As such, some pews will be roped off and unavailable. Family groups will be spaced six feet apart. As such, you are asked to RSVP for a seat by calling the church office at (904) 272-0110 by Friday at 2:00 pm. If you RSVP for a seat and fail to arrive by the start of worship, your seat will be given to someone on standby.
- Masks are required to be worn inside the building and for worship. A commandment that Christ gave to all followers is to “Love one another.” One way that we show this love for one another is by wearing masks because we know that the science has shown that wearing masks reduces the spread, especially when sitting in enclosed spaces for an extended period of time. Knowing that we are a congregation with a large number of at-risk individuals, we wear masks because we care about their health, the health of other people. If you are unable or unwilling to wear a mask, we ask that you stay home and watch the service online.
- For the foreseeable future, the entrance to the sanctuary will be via the doors underneath the portico (the doors nearest to the office). To minimize the amount of exposure of our attendees, the doors will not open until 9:45 A.M. Temperature checks will be taken before you are allowed to enter the building.
- Once you are inside the building, please abide by the signage and tape on the floors to maintain six feet of separation at all times.
- All potential points of interaction will be minimized:
- Your tithes and offerings will be collected in baskets near the sanctuary doors.. Offering plates will not be passed.
- Communion elements will be in individual servings and will be handed to you by an usher upon entrance into the building.
- Passing of the Peace will be removed (temporarily during the pandemic) from worship.
- At the end of worship, you will be asked to remain in your pews as the ushers dismiss you by row to walk directly outside the building.
- Bibles and Hymnals will be removed from the pews. The scripture will be displayed at the front of the sanctuary, but you are also welcome to bring your personal Bible with you.
- The water fountains will be disabled.
The only way that we can successfully relaunch our in-person worship services is if we work together for the safety of everyone; therefore, we are intentionally putting the needs of others above our own desires and wishes, according to the directives given to us by the Apostle Paul. I appreciate your understanding and willingness to make these sacrifices for the health of our community of faith. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Bethany in the church office at (904) 272-0110 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May you continue to experience the amazing love and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I’ll see you on Sunday.