Our Administrative Council has opted to open our doors for worship. We ask that anyone who is not comfortable with in-house worship continue to worship from home via Facebook Live or by tuning in to 99.5 KMZN radio.
The Administrative Council will continue to be in conversations about remaining open and will make an announcement if anything changes. Our Central UMC Safety and Security Team met on May 12 via Zoom for the primary purpose of recommending a plan for reopening our church for in-person worship. We reviewed and discussed recommendations from the Governor of Iowa, our United Methodist Bishop, Iowa Department of Health and Public Health COVID-19 Reopening Guidance the following decisions were made that will be reported to our Council. As your pastor, I will assume the initial responsibility of communicating these recommendations and changes to you and ask for your compliance and sharing of this information. We realize that some of these changes may not be the personal preference for everyone, but believe they are for the greater good. We are also hopeful that as the pandemic is brought under further control that some of these restrictions can be eased, but we have no timeline for when that may be. We established the goal to reopen for worship for those that want to attend on a voluntary basis and plan accordingly. (this status is subject to change pending directives from the authorities or unacceptable rises in virus cases). We want each person coming for in-person worship to feel reasonably safe, and if not we encourage them to worship at home. For this reasons we ask that anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 or who has been exposed to a person who tested positive to the virus within the previous 14 days to not attend. We also recommend that those in attendance wear a mask. There will be no Sunday School classes, no fellowship time with or without coffee and cookies, and no greetings that involve being closer than six feet to one another. This means no handshakes or hugs. The Education Committee has already postponed our June Vacation Bible School to 2021. The Iowa Annual Conference has closed our summer camping ministry. We will continue our live radio broadcast on KMZN and our Facebook Live broadcasts. We are looking into getting some equipment to improve our online presence and may need additional volunteers to continue this meaningful ministry. While we will continue to have children’s messages we will have the children remain in pews or seats with their families. We are concerned that children will have a difficult time staying six feet away from each other. As we begin to reenter, only the west entrance will be used to enter and exit the church. Ushers wearing masks and gloves will be at the west entrance, the elevator (ground level and sanctuary level) and the entrance to the sanctuary to: eliminate anyone from having to touch a door, verbally greet worshippers, answer questions, and give directions. Hand sanitizer will be available inside the west entrance and at the entrance to the sanctuary. The north and south balconies will be closed until the floor level is filled with 6-foot distancing. The offices, education wing, both fellowship halls, both kitchens and all rooms not used for worship will be closed. Based on 6-foot distancing, pews that will NOT be used will be taped off. Pew cushions will be removed so that pews can be disinfected. All Bibles, hymnals, pens, pencils and paper products will be removed from the pews. There will be no printed bulletins for the service and worship information will be on the screens. These will be emailed out and persons who want a paper copy can print it and bring it with them. The nursery will be closed. Restrooms in the narthex and the entrance to the old fellowship hall will be signed as available for use. The handrails along the pathway from the west entrance to the sanctuary as well as designated restrooms and pews will be sanitized before and after the (any) service. The offering plates will NOT be passed but will be placed at the sanctuary entrance from the narthex. When we worship with communion it will be offered using prepacked wafers and juice. We realize that you may not like all these recommendations from your Safety and Security Committee, but we are trying to help our people to be safe and also provide in-person worship again. These guidelines may change in the weeks ahead, but our normal up the road will not be the normal we have known before.