To: The Congregation of Hope UMC
From: Pastor Edward H. Cottrell, Jr FTLP, EMTB
Subject: Changes in response to COVID19
We are undergoing so many changes and tribulation during this time of the Corona Virus. First of all, I want to repeat what our Lord has told us “Fear Not beloved”. I am working on staying on top of this with truths and fielding the myths. I have been receiving guidance from the Indiana Conference and Governmental Agencies. I am also working with our Town Marshall Matthew Talent, Supervisor of Utilities David Clouse, and Fire Chief Chad Emmett on putting together community disaster plans that will include nature and environmental emergencies which will include pandemic. Saying that I am implementing the following changes to our worship experiences;
1. At this time we needed to cancel all worship services because conditions and directives changed within the UMC and community:
at 9 am the Methodist and the Wesleyan Churches are going to ring our bells.
Immediately following I am going to try to FaceBook live the message. I will have emailed out the message and bulletin to you. Please note that the Bulletin will have links to the music in the bulletin to YouTube videos as well. Hopefully, this will give you a better worship feeling at home.
At 11 am I am going to be in the west parking lot to give out Drive-thru communion.
I will also offer prayers and receive concerns and joys.
2. As we have halted the church cleaned weekly, along with things below until we pick up worship in 4 weeks hopefully. I have purchased spray bottles and bleach for an appropriate and safe mixture. I have chosen to mix our own because there is a rush on over the counter items by the fearful public. Starting this week we will be spraying the pews weekly, however, the virus only has a surface life of 3 days in a dry environment.
3. Effective tomorrow; we will not be passing the plate for the offering. We will still be having time to prayerfully offer to God but the plates/baskets will be at the entrance so that you may leave your offering as you come in or leave worship. I have been in conversations with Dani and Marsha and we are working on other avenues as well. We have talked to the bank and there is a way of setting up an electronic donation from our web page. This will be completely separate from our church accounts but accessible by our designated treasurer. It will also have the availability to have the information for the treasurer about who donated and if you want it designated to a particular fund. You can also mail your donation to Marsha.
4. Communion; we will still have communion; however it will not be by coming forward to the common loaf or chalice. The bread will be pre-cut, will only have separate cups, each person will be issued a napkin. As you come to receive communion and open your hands together, you will be given a napkin and the elements will be placed on the napkin for you, which you can go to the altar rail to come before God. A receptacle will be available to dispose of your cups. I will be the only one presenting communion to you and wearing gloves or use hand sanitizer to begin the Lords Supper.
5. When it comes to committee meetings, I am leaving it up to the chairpersons on deciding whether to meet or not. I would suggest that meet only if you have decisions that need to be made. I do believe this month’s Church Council (March) is pertinent to be attended.
6. I am also investigating ways that we can make worship transmitted electronically. I.e. YouTube or FaceBook live. If you have an interest or expertise PLEASE let me know.
7. I am asking for one of two things to happen, I NEED at least two people that can work as a team to make phone calls on those who miss worship to simply check on their welfare and health. Also, these could be addition members can check in with. But do feel more than welcome, to call and check in with me. I will continue to make phone calls to you. And/or, can we redevelop the phone chain to keep others up to date on things in the church or happenings. I am going to be very busy keeping abreast of the changes in this declared crisis and planning worship services.
8. All of these things are subject to change, expansion, and finally cancellation.
9. Finally, as a very close friend and college put it: I encourage you to do what is safe and take the necessary precautions you need for your health and wellness. Also, PLEASE test and challenge the information you see especially on social media! Much of it is simply distracting and discouraging. Again, for your mental health, measure carefully your intake of such things. However, if you decide to miss Sunday Worship in order to protect your health, please know that we will certainly miss you, but we know that God calls us to be good stewards of our bodies, and certainly sometimes staying home is the best thing one can do to protect not only their own health but the health of others.
With the blessings and Grace of God, we will get through this. Be safe and healthy everyone.
Pastor Ed Cottrell