COVID 19 Guidelines at Hope UMC

July 22 2020

We have undergone so many changes and tribulation during this time of the Corona Virus. First of all, I want to repeat again what our Lord has told us “Fear Not beloved”. We have tried to be proactive by staying on top of this with truths and fielding the myths. We have received guidance from the Indiana Conference and Governmental Agencies. I am continuing to work 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 natural and environmental emergencies which will include pandemic even as the Virus is resurging on us. We have update the following changes to our worship experiences as we continue;
1. Hand Sanitizer, Masks and a booklet that has the most current information about the virus have been placed in the Narthex, and a wall-mounted unit at the rear door. There are some whom may not be able to parking close proximity to the rear door, so those that can walk with ease please leave spaces in the East Lot for those who have impairments room to park close to the door so they do not have to use the steps.
2. Please continue Social Distancing as you choose your seating in the pews. Respect other’s space. Ask that you continue to leave empty pew rows “taped off” to keep enough distance between you and person in front/behind of you. These are still trying times as we are feeling our way back into gathering on Sundays. As we are made aware of those with the virus, we will keep the congregation updated as we can, yet respect the HIPPA regulations. When people tell me special circumstances and situations, I cannot always relay every detail about it. So please accept what I do share as all that can be said.
3. We have moved back to having the church cleaned weekly, Thursdays will  be focused on disinfection as it will be in the weeks to follow. We have purchased spray bottles and bleach for the appropriate and safe mixture. We are mixing our own because there was a rush on over the counter items by the fearful public. We will spray the pews weekly with an anti-microbial; however, the virus only has a surface life of 3 days in a dry environment. But we are now using a fogger to sanitize the church after every use.
4. We will continue to not be passing the plate for the offering. We are having time to prayerfully offer to God all our gifts of talent and time but the plates/baskets will be at the entrances to the sanctuary so that you may leave your offering as you come in or leave worship. You can mail your donations to the church or Marsha. We have agreement with Vanco as a way of an electronic donation from our web page. This is completely separate from our church accounts but they do electronically deposit into the appropriate church funds. They do have the availability to provide information to the treasurer about who donated and if you want it designated to a particular fund. A report is sent to Marsha. We also have the ability to receive electronic donations in the church as well through a card reader.
5. ALL extra activities at the church, committee meetings, bible study, and social gatherings are being eased into. This does include personal gatherings as well, but they will be decided on a case by case due to staying within the number of people gathering current guidelines set by State and County leaders along with clean restraints. We must be in good conscious make our facility as safe as humanly possible. We want to make sure we have supplies for cleaning availability to have worship in the church Sunday mornings first.
6. When it comes to committee meetings, it is 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. After the meetings, we will need to clean and sanitize the meeting area and restrooms with the solutions and the fogger.
7. Communion; we will still have communion; however it will not be by coming forward to the common loaf or chalice. We have pre-packaged communion for the first months. Then we will advance to bread that is pre-cut, separate cups, and each person will be issued a napkin. As you come to receive communion, 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, yet maintain recommended distancing. 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 Lord’s Supper.
8. We are continuing to transmit worship electronically. i.e. YouTube or FaceBook live. If you have an interest or expertise PLEASE let me know. We purchased a tablet for this.
9. We still 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 additional way members can check-in. Members are more than welcome, to call and check-in with the Pastor. The Pastor will continue to make phone calls to congregants. Can we redevelop the phone chain to keep others up to date on things in the church or happenings?
10. All of these things are still subject to change, expansion, and the possibility of cancellation if things get worse again.
11. Finally, as a very close Pastoral friend and a colleague 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.