covid-19 church action plan

This past Sunday was one of the strangest, yet most inspiring, worship experiences I can recall. With the exception of the clergy, a handful of choir members, and a family present for a baptism the sanctuary was empty. It was hollow, much like many of us have felt recently amid all of the COVID-19 updates. On a typical Sunday, we worship, on average, 800-850 people, which means we have around 400 people in each worship service. Sunday, we had 34. Yet, the same Spirit present when we are at capacity was present when we were at a bare minimum. The Holy Spirit will not be quarantined during this global crisis. In fact, the Spirit might be working all-the-more right now. The reason I believe this is true is because we typically worship 350-500 people online through Facebook. This past Sunday we worshipped 5,600 not counting persons who joined through our website (which crashed because of high volume) or WSFA (for which we have no way of monitoring viewers).

What I have discovered is, like 9/11 and after the 2008 market crash, people are searching for answers, for hope, for comfort. In previous national crises, we all flooded to worship and Sunday school. This season is so different because we cannot be together in person. That means we must find innovative ways to worship, study, and serve. We are worshipping every Sunday at 11:00 AM and on Wednesdays via FB Live. Rev. Gillian Walters has generated some creative ways to meet and study as a class or small group. Claire Smith and Rev. Lucas Tribble have coordinated ways to serve. You see, we can still BE the church without going to the church or doing church. You and I ARE the church. Rarely do we have the opportunity to give our community and our world hope amid darkness. Let us keep our focus on our mission to make disciples and our message of hope in Jesus Christ. I love you all and will continue holding you in my prayers each day.

Take a look at a few of the innovative initiatives we are launching to keep us connected and to help us make a difference locally:

  1. In an attempt to begin pairing people in our community with needs to people eager and willing to help as quickly as possible, click here.
  2. For the No Labels Lenten journey, we have created an anonymous portal for people to submit labels. Click here.
  3. ZOOM groups are in the works to help keep Sunday school classes, small groups, and covenant groups together. If you need access to that link, contact Gillian Walters at glwalters@fumcmontgomery.org

*Our goal is to help every member find a way to remain connected through worship, study, and service. Innovation is the fertile ground where the Spirit will sprout new opportunities for us all. Submit any ideas you have to jcooper@fumcmontgomery.org.

In light of rapidly developing events related to the COVID-19 virus, we are making some immediate adjustments in our operational proceedings. These changes will be in effect until further notice. The ADPH has released a requirement that group sizes in public gatherings remain no more than 25 people, while also maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons. If persons are in the high-risk bracket (due to age, a compromised immune system, or general health conditions) then group sizes must remain capped at 10 persons. This changes the way all of us will do ministry. Here are the guidelines I need you all to know:

  1. The primary point of entry to the church will be the double doors to the Fellowship Building, located in the breezeway. Once entry is granted, ALL persons (staff and walk-ins) must check in with Tammy Holcomb at the receptionist’s desk. We will begin a sign-in system to monitor how many people are on campus and who those people are. Only essential functions will be conducted on-site. Other tasks will be performed remotely so as to assist in mitigation and maintaining healthy boundaries.
  2. All non-staff persons MUST BE PRE-APPROVED for campus entry. If you plan to invite a guest or a volunteer on campus right now, then you need to have that person approved prior to arrival by means of telephone or email. Once approved, a visitor may enter the building, but the same check-in system will apply.
  3. The staff has divided our workdays into three segments for now: 8-11 am; 11 am-2 pm; 2-5 pm. This will allow our program areas to stagger on-site work. For example, the clergy team will not be on-site at the same time in the event that one of us contracts the virus. This will prevent that person from infecting the other clergy. Our staff will be working on-site sporadically, but also remotely as we all have access to technological means.
  4. We are all doing whatever it takes to remain on point with our mission and message. Our job descriptions might change some and you could see us cleaning, organizing, strategizing, or praying earnestly over the next two months. These are signs of our commitment as a staff to this church. We cherish your prayers as we navigate these unchartered waters.
  5. Our operating expenses will remain at a minimum. ALL purchases must be pre-approved until further notice. That point of contact is Nancy Belser.

In addition to those operational procedures, here are points of contact for ministry opportunities in the coming weeks:

Thank you for understanding how adaptive we must all be during these next two months. Together, we will lead our people and our community. What we do in Montgomery impacts the world, so keep up the great work. It is a blessing to be in ministry with you all.

With Joy,

Jay

ALL church meetings and programming are suspended until further notice. Suspended activities and programming include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • In-Person Worship
  • Lenten Luncheons
  • Sunday School
  • Covenant Groups
  • Bible Studies
  • External Group Meetings and Events
  • Wednesday Night Supper
  • Early Childhood Development Center and First School
  • Wednesday Night Chapel
  • Choir and Ensemble Rehearsals
  • Age-Level Programming
  • All Other On-Site Events and Activities
Please click the links below to connect with us in the following ways:

Follow Us on Facebook

Keep up with the latest COVID-19 updates through this web page, but also on our Facebook page. Click the link below to follow along, as we strive to keep our communities as safe as possible.

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