From Your Pastors: Church Reopening?

“We will gather for worship when epidemiologists and other health professionals tell us it is safe to do that. Not before.”

(In the meantime, please join us on our YouTube channel for worship services every Sunday and Message for All Ages every Wednesday)

Oh Friends,

I feel a little silly even having to write this. But given yesterday’s statement by the president of the United States, I suppose it is good for me to clarify what you already know:

1. Our church is not closed. This particular bit of the Body of Christ is active and working worshiping and praying and playing together every day of the week, albeit in a different way. So many of you have found ways to stay connected and growing in the faith, through worship, Connect and Care groups, the Message for All Ages, Spiritual growth study, Pilates, Move It or Lose It, kid’s time, etc. Keep doing that! On a side note, nearly 1200 people worshiped with us on Easter.

2. Our building is not closed. Though we are not holding the many, many gatherings that help make church church, whether for worship, fellowship, food, support, or other purposes; even though concerts are postponed and our theatre is dark, the place is hopping. Every day our dedicated staff members open up to welcome the workers and volunteers of the West Side Campaign Against Hunger and the Senior Meals on Wheels program, who all work in safe ways at safe distances to feed more than a thousand people every day. Yes, you read that right.

3. As United Methodists, we value a connection that lets us work together and pool our collective wisdom. Each week Pastor Lea and I meet with the other pastors in our area over Zoom to see what they are thinking. We are looking to the thoughtful guidance of Bishop Bickerton, who has been very attentive to the changing nature of this crisis. On Wednesday, our District Superintendent was here, Rev. Dr. Denise Smartt-Sears, along with the NY Conference Disaster Coordinator, Rev. Tom Vencus, to see and support the work that is going on here.

4. Our faith is one that values the contribution of science, and we will gather for worship when epidemiologists and other health professionals tell us it is safe to do that. Not before.

5. Our Board of Trustees and Church Council are forming a team to help figure out how we will eventually gather for worship. We’ll let you know the date of the June Church Council meeting.

John Wesley left the Methodist movement three General Rules, which can be summarized thus: Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Bishop Carter of the FL Conference alluded to those rules in his statement in today’s NY Times: “God will reassemble us when we know it is safe. This requires our trust, assurance, maturity, civility. Our purpose is to love God and our neighbor. Our purpose is to do no harm, to do all the good we can.”

Pastor Lea and I plan to follow those rules in everything we do, to the best of our ability.

We love you and miss seeing your faces on something other than Zoom. We can’t wait to worship together, except that actually, we can. And must.

Stay well, and be safe.

K & Lea