A weekly newsletter from United Methodist Church of Lenox
A NOTE FROM THE PASTOR
Eternal God, from whom we belong and in whose fellowship is our peace; we worship you today. You have filled our lives with challenging and interesting opportunities. You enable us with the capacity to enjoy the wonders of this gift that we call life. To dream and to be inspired with the knowledge of the mysteries of each new day. Today we await the new possibilities before us, and we give thanks for opportunities fulfilled. You have blessed us with memories of times gone by, and you point us toward a future which is full of your promise. Lure us into your divine adventure of justice and beauty, and healing and whol other in the fellowship of your spirit.
Speak to us O God, of the illumination of your truth. Inspire us to be insightful enough to recognize your purposes for our lives as we set our purposes aside. Remind us of the many human needs which are never met and of the struggles among so many people in the world for freedom and justice. Let your compassion be upon all who feel suffering and sorrow. We thank you God for your abiding presence as we lift our voices in praise. Amen and Amen.
By Rev. Dr. David V. Calhoun, Seacoast District Superintendent
A letter in support of our Asian Community
Yesterday another tragedy of targeted racism happened in the United States of America. Yesterday our Asian siblings were gunned down, maimed, and killed at their places of business. Yesterday another bandage was ripped off the festering wound of racism in this country.
The New England Conference Commission on Religion and Race stand in solidarity with our Asian community in NEAC as well as around the world. We are reminded by Scripture that when “one of us hurts, all of us hurts.” We recognize that investigations are still underway regarding the shootings in Atlanta however that work does not take away from the increase of violence that has been exacerbated around the nation as it pertains to the Asian community.
Racism is real! The killing and abuse of the other due to the color of their skin and heritage is real! As members of the Body of Christ we must not turn a blind eye to the pain that acts of violence reveal to the greater society. Understanding that members of the Asian community have endured MORE TARGETED racism and racist acts since Covid-19, we must see to their care and safety.
NEAC church family, it is up to all of us to be agents of change and grace for our Asian kin. It is up to us to make sure that they know that they are safe with us. It is up to us to reach out and care for them. As we lift our prayers may we also lift our voices and move our hands and feet into action by working to end racism and racist violence of all kinds. Enough is enough.
NEAC Commission on Religion and Race
Rev. Effie McAvoy, Chair Ms. Rachel Cozzens
Ms. Claire Holston Rev. Jill Colley-Robinson
Mr. Todd Warfield Rev. Kristy Besada
Mr. Gordon Anderson Rev. Bob Stewart
Rev. Dr. Adama Brown Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson
Contemporary Worship Service on Mar 21st
Upcoming Sunday will be a contemporary worship service that will be led by Tom Cairns. come and enjoy the spiritual hymnals. Let's praise our God together!!
If you visit the link below or dial this number by your phone, you can join the worship service at 10am. please come early so we can start the worship at 10.
We are starting a Virtual Coffee Hour on Sundays at 9:30am and 11:00am through Zoom Video/Audio Conferencing!
Before and after the worship service, you can join the virtual coffee hour via zoom to check in with folks from church. Let’s catch up with newcomers and friends. Bring your coffee for time to chat and check-in!! From this room, people will be grouped into smaller groups, if we have many folks at once.
* Bible Study - Wed 10am ( Gospel of the Mark )
* Office Hours
. Pastor Nami working from home ( Tue-Fri, 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm) - available to reach out phone call (442-6314) or email ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
.Kathy, Administration Assistant working in the church office Tue (11am – 2pm) and Fri (9am – 12pm) Hours are flexible so please call church office (445-5918) or email (email@example.com) to make sure she is working
.Finance Committee Meeting: Tonight 6:30pm via zoom
Our Church Council met last night to discuss re-opening our church with limited in-person worship. We reviewed the recommendations from the NE Conf Reentry team. We have invested in additional equipment to provide interactive worship services via Zoom and with that doing outdoor services does not allow us to serve all of our congregants. We had created a plan and guidelines last fall and re-opened for a few months with 20-25 folks in attendance and others online via zoom. This worked well with our procedures. We are planning to re-open on Mar 28 with the same procedures and processes. While we understand that this is not per the recommendations we feel that quite a few of our congregants have been vaccinated and with our previous procedures we are minimizing risk. Since we will have both in-person and Zoom it will allow anyone not comfortable coming to church to continue to worship from home. Our cases in Berkshire county have dropped back to single digits daily which is consistent with last Fall. I have attached our Protocol for Church opening and Covid Commandments as reference. We will continue to monitor cases daily and close in-person if cases rise significantly.
PROTOCOL FOR CHURCH RE-OPENING
DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
I. WORSHIP SERVICE
Prior to Opening
· Prior to the church re-opening the sanctuary pews will be designated (marked) to accomplish social distancing.
· All pew cushions and tissue containers will be removed and stored.
· The fellowship hall will be arranged with chairs following social distancing guidelines, as needed.
· Face masks and hand sanitizer will be purchased and be available at entrance to church.
· Entering and seating - Traffic cones will be arranged at the entrance to the church to direct people to the sanctuary. There will also be a designated person to direct attendees into the sanctuary. When the sanctuary is full then the doors to the sanctuary will be closed and the traffic cones be will arranged to direct people to the fellowship hall.
· Close of service - At the close of service a procedure will be followed to exit the church in a manner which will minimize contact.
o The fellowship hall will exit first starting with the row closest to the sanctuary and ending with the row at the back of the hall.
o The sanctuary will then exit beginning with the last row and ending with the frontmost row.
· Hand Sanitizer – Hand sanitizer will be dispensed at the entrance.
· Temperature Checks -Temperatures will be taken of all entering the church.
· Face masks – Face masks will be required and worn in order to attend service. Masks will be available for attendees if needed.
· Social distancing – Social distancing will also be required.
o There will be no hand shaking or hugging.
o Social distancing must also be maintained in the altar area between pastor, the pianist, and any others participating in the worship service. The lecterns will have transparent face shields.
· Worship service program - All those seated in the sanctuary and fellowship hall can follow the worship service program via the overhead projection.
· Offering – The offering will not be collected during worship service, instead, an offering plate will be placed on the table outside the sanctuary into which offerings may be made. Those tallying the offering must wear face masks and gloves.
· Children’s time – There will be no children’s time nor Sunday school.
· Music -To maintain social distancing in the altar area with the pastor, organist, liturgist, and audio/visual person there will be no choir in the initial re-opening.
Special music can be part of the service if it is performed by a single person who comes to the altar only to perform. There must a minimum of 17 feet between the performer and the first row of congregation.
Congregational singing is not encouraged per guidelines.
· Liturgist and reader - The liturgist will also be the reader.
· Communion – There will be no communion during the initial re-opening.
· Fellowship time – There will be no coffee service or fellowship time following worship service during the initial re-opening.
· Offering Deposit – The offering collection will be counted in the fellowship hall. Two 8’ banquet tables will be placed in the fellowship hall on the windowed side. The tables will be 10’ apart and each table will have 1 chair at either end to maintain social distancing.
· Cleaning and disinfecting - All public restrooms will be disinfected following the service. All pews will be disinfected following the service.
· Space usage - To minimize the potential for contamination throughout the church and to minimize the cleaning and disinfecting process, only the sanctuary, fellowship hall, and restrooms will be available for use on Sundays. It is recommended that any space should be used only once per day if possible. If it is necessary to use a space twice in the same day then a period of 4 hours between meetings should be maintained to provide sufficient time for disinfecting as needed.
· On-Line services – Worship services will continue to be offered on-line for those who choose not to attend in person.
II. Use of Ancillary Spaces
Ancillary spaces include the choir room, youth room, library, classrooms, nursery, and kitchen.
To minimize the need for special cleaning and disinfecting during the covid-19 pandemic the use of ancillary spaces will be limited.
The only gatherings that will be allowed at this time are internal committee meetings and bible studies. Until further notice the fellowship hall will be the only space used for the meetings and bible studies.
· Attendance – Attendance is limited to no more than 25 people.
· Face coverings – Face coverings must be worn at all times.
· Social distancing – Social distancing is mandatory.
· Cleaning and disinfecting – It is the responsibility of the meeting coordinator to assure that all areas and surfaces that have been used and all touch points, ie door knobs, etc. will be disinfected after each meeting and before leaving the building. This includes the entry and foyer area. Cleaning products will be available within the hall.
· Scheduling – It is the responsibility of the activity coordinator to assure there is no more than one gathering scheduled at a time and that there is adequate time between meetings for the area to be disinfected.
III. Church Offices
Cleaning products will be placed in the pastor’s office and the administrative assistant’s office for disinfecting following the use of the offices.
IV. Food Pantry
This community effort will continue to function on Saturdays from 10am – 11am. We encourage minimal foot traffic within the building.
· Face coverings – Face coverings must be worn at all times.
· Social distancing – Social distancing is mandatory.
· Cleaning and disinfecting – The foyer area, entry, and restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected after the food pantry is closed each Saturday.
We discourage any use or entry into the church any time after the Saturday cleaning and disinfecting as it has been readied for Sunday morning worship service.
Due to the Corona Virus we are changing how in-person services will be conducted. These are being called the Covid Commandments.
1) Thou shall wear a mask while on church grounds and inside church. Only exception will be people in the altar area.
2) Thou shall have a temperature check before entering church for service. Anyone with elevated temp greater than 100.4 will be sent home.
3) Thou shall maintain social distancing while entering/exiting and during service. Minimum 6ft apart from others.
4) Thou shall be provided hand sanitizer upon entry to church.
5) Thou shall sit where the usher escorts you to. Social distancing can be maintained by sitting in marked spots.
6) Thou shall not sing but enjoy the person at altar singing.
7) No communion will be performed until the pandemic is over.
8) The offertory will be set up to collect contributions when entering/exiting church.
9) There will be no children’s moment, Sunday school, or babysitting.
10) Thou shall not shake hands or hug our brothers/sisters in Christ.
These safety measures are required to keep everyone safe at church. Hopefully we can return to normal sometime in the future but we thank you for your cooperation during this time. People not comfortable attending in person will be able to continue to partake in on-line services currently offered.
7. Next Sunday Worship : Palm Sunday
UMC of Lenox will resume the in-person worship service at Palm Sunday. As always with this strange season we find ourselves in, this plan may always be altered or pushed back in the event of a resurgence or spike in COVID cases.
We'd like to open the church building not for everyone, but only for those who feel comfortable to come to church, prefer to have the in-person worship serviceor are unable to have an on-line worship service at their place. Zoom worship service will continue to conduct after reopening the sanctuary. In-person worship service will live on Zoom at 10am every sunday. So whether you stay home or not, you will be able to join the worship service.
We won't force you to come to the church building if you are not ready for it. Please feel free to stay at home and don't feel judged or guilty for it. There is no right or wrong decision. Also, if you are not healthy enough to take this risk in attending the in-person worship, you should stay at home. We offer the practical guidelines and rules for you via email or mail that you should follow to enter the sanctuary in the safe way. We will do our best to protect each other inthe reopening process.
If you are not able to join any worship services neither online and in-person, we will continue to send out the church stuff by mail.
We have about 30 seats available in the sanctuary with social distancing. Three people will sit in the one pew except for the family.
if we have more than 30 people on Sunday, we are going to put the chair in the fellowship hall and if so, 20-25 seats will be more available in addition to 30 seats in the sanctuary. we may ask all attendees of in-person worship, their names and contact information at the entry to track you in case. Thanks for your cooperation.
Easter Bags for our children at church and children in the shelter
There are two different ways that you can help spread the love and joy of Easter morning.
1). Send money or check to the church and identify “Easter Bags” in the memo or with a note. Please notify Shirley (442-4738) so the Mission Team knows how much money is being donated.
2). Purchase items
· Pick the square that you want to shop for.
· Inform Shirley (442-4738) of the square you picked. Identify the name or the letter in the upper right corner of the square. Note: each child has two squares with different items in each square so your items will be combine with the other square.
· These items need to be dropped off at the church by March 30th WITH identifying the name or the letter in the upper right hand corner of the square.
· The mission team will put the bags together for each child and distribute them.
The Mission Team appreciates anything and everything you can do to help with the success of this project. We are thinking that each square would be under $15.