First of all, I hold all of you in constant prayer as we face the challenges of the Coronavirus. It is a stressful time, made more difficult by our own fears and vulnerability. Prayer is essential, but so is clear, informed, and wise action. I want to share with you how Bethany UMC will respond.
We (names listed below) came together on Friday morning to consider our best course of action on behalf of our congregation and community. We chose to be proactive, compassionate, and respectful of the most current guidelines from the CDC/WHO and our own Bishop. These are the decisions we have made, which are effective immediately.
- All Sunday School Classes and Worship Services are suspended through April 5. Pastor Cathi will offer prayer, updates, and her sermon online through Facebook at 10:30 each Sunday. For those who request it, a CD/DVD will be available and delivered to your home. Please call the church office if you wish to receive one. Prayer requests may be called into the office or emailed to Pastor Cathi at any time.
- All Youth/Children’s activities are cancelled until April 8th. This includes: CORE, Wednesday Night Live, Easter Craft Day (may be rescheduled), Easter Breakfast, and the Spring Break party scheduled for March 30. Marc will connect with the Youth on YouTube to provide updates and continue his lessons.
- NEW Office Hours – the office will be open ONLY from 9:00am to noon. For the health of our staff and others, gathering in the office for group conversations will not be permitted. Please honor this guideline to prevent the spread of disease, and to allow Barb to complete her work in the shorter hours.
- Roller Skating is done for the season.
- Bible Studies, Men’s Night Out, Knitting Group, Prayer Group, Music Group rehearsals, and our Lenten Evening Service on March 29th are suspended until further notice. Committee Chairpersons will call only the most essential meetings, keep them brief, and should consider meeting by phone or internet if possible. The UMW Circles are strongly encouraged to suspend their meetings until the virus has been controlled.
- AA Meetings will be permitted as long as they choose to gather.
- Food Pantry will continue to serve the community, with these precautions: Carts are to be wiped down before and after every use, gloves will be worn when filling the food request and recipients will receive the food at the door and return the empty cart.
- All employees will continue to be paid, and to do their work as needed. Employees are expected to sanitize their own workspace and to wipe down all surfaces they have touched before they leave each day.
- Suspending our Sunday Worship Services may directly affect our cash flow, as we will not receive weekly offerings. Please consider mailing or dropping off your contributions for March 15 – April 5, since we will still need to pay our employees and our bills.
During these weeks of reduced activity and use of the church, we will focus on sanitizing the building as much as possible. Volunteers and staff persons will go room to room disinfecting pews, tables, chairs, books, instruments, door handles, railings, etc etc etc. After a room has been disinfected, it will not be available for use, with 3 exceptions: 3 tables in the lounge, the 2 single restrooms near the offices, adn the staff offices. The kitchen, Prayer Room, all Sunday School Rooms, the basement level and the entire Worship Wing will not be used until further notice. This will help us avoid having to re-sanitize multiple times.
As church leaders, we will continue to meet and re-assess the current situation over the next 3 weeks. As new guidelines come to us from the CDC/WHO/Governor Whitmer/Bishop Bard, we will review our response and keep you informed of any changes or updates.
Having said all of this, I also want to encourage and reassure you. It is important to remain calm, and to follow best practices for hygiene and contact with people. Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and be careful about shaking hands or hugging. Wipe down surfaces that you touch and if you have any symptoms of the flue or think you may have been exposed, contact your doctor immediately. Refrain from panic shopping (especially toilet paper!) and avoid large crowds. If it is warm enough, open your windows briefly to exchange fresh air.
Be careful, yes, but above all, just B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Find creative ways to enjoy the change in schedules, to rest in the reduced busyness, and feed your heart and soul with quiet and prayer. Pray for those who are ill, for those who are treating them, and for those trying to manage and control the virus. Pray for those who will face a financial crisis, child care issues, or increased domestic violence. If you need food, household essentials, or a ride to the doctor, please call the church or the pastor and we will do our best to help. Stay connected to friends and family by phone or internet and check on one another often. Be informed by credible sources, but don’t let it overwhelm you. We will make it through this, by working together and choosing wisdom over fear.
God continues to bless us all,
Karen Ferguson (Finance Chair)
Laura Gray (Trustees Chairperson)
Marc Middleton (Director of Children’s / Youth Ministries)
Mavis Miller (Chairperson of Worship & Music Arts)
Diane Weaver (Lay Leader)