Our Faithbridge UMC Board met this afternoon to discuss the Governor’s reopening plan and what it will mean for our congregation in this time of uncertainty and increased risk from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board’s unanimous decision was to continue with our current protocol for the month of May. There will be no “on-campus” worship services, small groups, or use of the building by outside groups at Faithbridge during this time. The Board plans to meet to re-evaluate our protocols at the end of May.
The highest priority of our Board in making this decision was the safety of our Faithbridge family. John Wesley’s first rule for Methodists was “do no harm.” After taking a thorough look at what the social distancing requirements would mean for our congregation, they determined that the possibility of harm far outweighed the good that would come from meeting together on-campus at this time.
As part of a larger reopening strategy, the Board has commissioned 3 teams to plan and prepare for what the “new normal” will look like in the areas of hospitality, worship, and sanitizing. There are many questions that need to be answered before we can safely reopen. These teams will begin their work immediately and will report back to the Board later in the month.
I would imagine that this is not the news some of you were hoping for. We are all grieving the loss worshiping “all together in one place,” as it says in Acts 2:1. We are all grieving the loss of our shared ministries and small groups. We are all grieving the handshakes and the hugs of friends. I hear you, and I feel it too.
Even in the midst of such disorienting times, you can still live out our mission at Faithbridge UMC, which is “Making NEW, STRONGER, and ACTIVE disciples of Jesus Christ.” Here are three ways you can live out our mission:
- NEW- Share our worship services with your friends and family, and invite someone to join you
- STRONGER- Commit to a new spiritual discipline this month- maybe prayer, or reading from the scriptures, or joining an online small group
- ACTIVE- Serve someone else by writing long overdue “thank you notes,” or give of your money or time (if you feel safe doing it) to another worthy kingdom cause, like Hope House.
I ask for your patience and grace as we all seek to make the best decisions we can to continue both loving God and keeping everyone safe. I also would ask that you show the utmost respect to other congregations. Some congregations will resume worshiping in person next week. Many will wait longer. Truthfully, some never stopped meeting despite the governor’s clear orders. Remember that we are all making decisions with incomplete information and without full knowledge of what the future may hold. Please do not judge or condemn any other church for their decisions- even if you disagree with them. Jesus clearly called us to be people of grace- please show the same grace to others.
Finally, just after our Board got done meeting this afternoon, I received word that Kelly Beale passed away. Kelly was a faithful member of our church and a teacher for the Stover schools. Kelly always had a kind word and a beautiful smile. She will be dearly missed by her church family, but even more so by her students, the faculty and staff of the Morgan County school district, and her family. There are no services planned at this time. Notes of care and concern may be sent to Kelly’s brother Michael at: 28290 Holt Rd, Rocky Mount, MO 65072.
Blessings in the wilderness,
Pastor Andy Blacksher