Church during Contagion

Lebanon United Methodist Church

Being Church amid a Health Crisis 

 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
       – Philippians 4:6-7

 

Here are the most recent safety precautions and policies at Lebanon UMC 

  1. The church office has closed to the public. Messages will be retrieved once a day during the week, and Jody has adjusted her hours to accommodate. 
  2. Our Trustees have set a policy of NO in-person gatherings at the church, so that we can best assure the safety and health of anyone who does come in contact with our building. 
  3. We have suspended all activities involving food.
  4. There are a few exceptions to the no-gatherings rule, on a case-by-case basis, and with extreme caution taken. The most notable exception is that 12-step groups are warmly welcomed to continue using the church to meet. We are now asking them to carry in/carry out coffee or other necessities, and doing an extra cleaning the next day. 
  5. Calls to the pastor are ALWAYS okay! Please call, email, or text me if you are in need of pastoral care. If, however, there is a logistical concern, or someone is asking about food or gas assistance, please contact the church office, and Jody or I will follow up. 

     - Pastor Becca 

Updated March 20, 2020

 

Previous safety messages 

 

Blessings, beloved siblings in faith, 

     I know that we are living in times of worry and fear, as the Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus continues to impact our region and our world. It is especially important that we care for one another in the midst of this situation, including helping one another to be safe and as free from worry as is possible. 

     On March 15, we discussed and decided together that Lebanon UMC will move all of our ministries to remote-access-only for at least the next two weeks in response to the COVID-19 contagion. We will then make decisions on a week to week basis, following the recommendations of government and health officials. Here is a little glimpse of what this will look like, knowing that both the situation and our response to it are constantly evolving: 

Worship- We will not have a Sunday morning gathering for worship on 3/22 or 3/29 (and will decide later about subsequent weeks). Instead, we will offer opportunities to worship wherever you are, including streaming or pre-recorded videos and messages, and sharing prayers over the phone or through email and the prayer app. 

Connection and careWe will contact every person in the congregation and check in, share updates, and care for one another. We will give volunteers a list of folks to call, and I will also make personal phone calls. 

Meetings- We will hold meetings over telephone or video conference. 

Ministries for our community- We are working on ways to help people access food, medicine, child care ideas, internet access, and more. Let's stay creative and engaged! This is where the people of LUMC really shine. 

Giving- Because the need in our community doesn't go away and in fact increases, please consider continuing to give as you are able to help us serve God and our neighbors. You can mail your contribution to the church and counters (wearing gloves) will collect and deposit the funds. You can also speak with our financial secretary, Suzy S, about making automatic payments for your pledge.    

     At Lebanon UMC, our highest priority remains the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of every member of our community. As concerned as we are about physical wellness, I can't overstate the importance of spiritual and emotional wellness in the face of heightened fear. Please do not hesitate to call me if you are feeling isolated or scared, or in need of some comfort. The easiest way to reach me is on my cell phone, which you can find in the dirctory, or by calling the office. 

   May you be healthy, hopeful, and peaceful, 

         - Pastor Becca 

 

Here are the precautions that we have already taken, to help ease any worry about past interactions in and around LUMC:

  1. If you are at a higher risk for viral infection or respiratory illnesses, please stay home as much as you can. Please also let me or Jody know, so that we are aware of why we’re not seeing you. We want to know you are safe! We want to be in contact with you if you are self-isolating to make sure your spiritual and emotional health are still cared for.

  2. If you are feeling ill—including with a more common flu—please refrain from contact with others, and take all precautions to contain the spread of germs and virus. Please remember that while your body may be resilient enough to withstand an illness, there are many in our church and community whose health is more fragile.

  3. Lebanon UMC is cancelling, postponing, or modifying all events that include shared food. This includes:
    -   We will not have coffee hour after church (although we are working on donations of pre-packaged snacks in case kids especially are hungry!).
    -   Saturday Afternoon Lunch Together will be take-out only, serving stew and crackers; those doing food prep are asked to wear latex gloves (provided in the kitchen) and exercise all proper food safety.
    -   The Dip Dinner Fundraiser after church on 3/15 is postponed until further notice. 
    -   (UPDATE) The invitation to a 24-hour fast from after dinner 3/18 through 3/19 still stands, but the potluck and speaker scheduled for breaking the fast have been cancelled. Please journal or reflect on your experience of fasting, and we hope to get together in person or virtualy to talk abuot our experiences when it is safe and feasible to do so. 
    -   The lunch for Camping Sunday on 3/22 is canceled.
    -   The Breakfast fundraiser currently being planned is postponed to a later date. 

  4. (UPDATE) All gatherings, practices, bible studies, committees/teams, and groups are asked to find ways to meet over the phone or internet. 

  5. When we have gathered for worship or other events, please note that we exercised the following safety procedures at church:
    -   Our sexton is taking care to do extra cleaning and heavily disinfect doorknobs and other highly-used surfaces. This includes an extra deep-cleaning this past week. Our bathroom and kitchen soap dispensers are well-stocked. 
    -   We have pump bottles of hand sanitizer in the entryway of the church and are working on installing sanitizer stations in the building. 
    -   We did not pass the offering plate, but collected offerings in the plate located on a table near the door to the sanctuary. Please consider switching to automatic contributions if you are able (you can speak with our financial secretary, Suzy S, about this). 
    -   We did not pass the microphone for announcements or prayer concerns. 
    -   Ushers and counters were encouraged to wear latex gloves (provided) when handling bulletins or the offering. 
    -   Everyone is encouraged to greet one another with smiles, waves, elbow-bumps, and other non- or low-contact greetings. 

  6. (UPDATE) We will reassess if we have an in-person worship service on Palm Sunday (April 5), and would most likely not offer communion that Sunday. 

  7. We will comply with all additional procedures as directed by local and state public health officials.

  8. We will keep the congregation notified as things unfold.  

 

updated March 15, 2020