Dear Tuscumbia First Family,
WHEN WILL WE RETURN TO WORSHIP? That is the question I am regularly asked. Based on the recommendations of our Bishop and Conference Leaderships, not yet. Her last statement suggested that churches continue to suspend gathering for worship until June 1. Their document, entitled “Do No Harm” did leave a little room open to churches in areas where the virus is not advancing.
The document gets its name from one of John Wesley’s General Rules. Several years back, Bishop Reuben Job wrote a book of his interpretation of Wesley’s General Rules entitled, “THREE SIMPLE RULES: A Wesleyan Way of Living.” The three rules are “Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God.” Our Bishop and Conference leadership used the first of those rules, “Do No Harm,” as the title of their document to reopening churches for public worship. If you would like to read it, you can find it on the Conference Webpage - www.umcna.org
While most of us long to return to gathering for worship and Sunday School, the question presented by the document is, when can we return without doing harm to one another? Closed-in places, where people are in one spot for around an hour, tend to present more opportunities to spread viruses. Even an act of worship like singing can spread viruses further than just talking. Added to that is the fact that this COVID-19 virus can be picked up through touch (touching a pew, a chair, a hymnal, a door) and then touching your face. Therefore, we don’t want to do harm by taking a risk of passing on the virus. People can be carriers without even knowing it.
In a District Zoom meeting, a lay person suggested that we also need to realize that we may be doing harm to people spiritually by cutting them off from their church family. I know some of you are feeling somewhat cut off at this time. While Zoom meetings and social media are not the same as spiritual fellowship in person, they do provide some ways of connecting. But, some do not have those means of connecting.
According to the document “Do No Harm,” churches can move into the next phases of opening the doors when their area has two weeks of declining cases. Since May 7th, the cases in Colbert County have risen from 51 to 71. We need to see a turnaround, not just for opening the doors to worship, but for the health of people .
That being said, know that your Leadership Council is preparing for returning to in-person worship. When that happens, we will still be live streaming both the 9:45 and the 11:00 worship services. The Sanctuary is now ready for streaming. We do need people who are willing to be trained on the computer for streaming. You can contact Grace Kennington to volunteer.
In preparation for our return, we have been deep cleaning the facilities. This week, we were able to get some more disinfectant spray and sanitizing wipes. Before every service, pews/chairs will be sprayed, doors sprayed, and hand sanitizers filled and ready for us. We are still working on some additional hand sanitizer stations. More will be share about this when we have a date to open.
This Sunday, we will recognize our three High School Seniors through videos, and Chad Kennington will be preaching. Join us and continue to be in prayer for wisdom for all making decisions about the issues related to this virus.
In Christ’s Love and Service,