May 13, 2020
Rev. William Bills
We recently received information from Bishop David Bard about possible re-opening scenarios for United Methodist Churches in Michigan. We also obtained information from the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Episcopalian Church. Bishop Bard has encouraged us not to try to hold services this month. We can have small groups of people in the building to record services as long as they observe social distancing guidelines. Governor Whitmer’s current executive order is set to expire on Friday, May 29.
It is conceivable that we could resume activities at church sometime in June. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee will meet on Thursday, May 14. The Policy Governance Board will meet on Monday, May 18. These two groups, along with the church staff and the Board of Trustees, will look at the above mentioned documents and come up with a plan for when and how to re-open the church. Any way we look at it, this will not be a small undertaking.
When we resume services, meetings, and classes, we will have to continue to observe social distancing guidelines. This could entail numerous changes from our normal routines. For example, there will probably be no coffee fellowship at church, no bulletins, and no hymnals. Song lyrics and prayers will only be displayed on the screens. This will keep us from passing around paper and having multiple people touch hymnals. People from the same household may sit together, but those from other families would have to observe social distancing. Every other pew may have to remain empty. A service may be added so people can spread out. Singing will be an issue as it can spread the virus. Offering plates will not be passed. They will be in the back so people can leave an offering without touching the plates. After services, meetings, or classes, all of the rooms will need to be “fogged” with disinfectant. Surfaces, doors, light switches, restrooms, and hand rails will all need to be cleaned thoroughly. This will be time intensive and may require trained volunteers or a cleaning service. This is only a partial list of things to be considered if we are to re-open. It seems that each day something new comes to our attention.
I would really like to return to some semblance of normalcy before I go completely bonkers! I really would like to go back to business as usual both at church and in my personal life. At the same time, I want to ensure that nobody is taking unnecessary risks. Your health and safety is important to me! If you have thoughts about when and how we might re-open the church, I would like to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or you can call me at 517-351-7030 and let me know what you’re thinking about re-opening. If you would like, I can share your thoughts with our elected church leaders.
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.