July 20, 2020
Re. Worship Continuation and Sunday School Class Start-up
Dear Eatonton First UMC,
Our return to in-person worship has been a great first step for our congregation. We have worshipped in person for 8:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. with online available worship for our 11:00 a.m. worship services. We have been in person for five consecutive weeks. Our in-person attendance has been steady and small, which we expected, with about 30 people in each service on average. Our online viewership has remained strong with 130 to 150 simultaneous, real time viewers during the 11:00 a.m. worship services. I am grateful for each of you for hanging in there with us during this strange time in our church's history. In spite of the adaptive nature of this season of ministry, your passion has been contagious and you continue to persevere in Christ courageously. This has not been lost on me or our congregation's lay leadership! Keep walking with the strength and courage of the Saints!
Our Start-up Task Force met today for the fourth time. Their decisions were made with an hour and a half of deliberate conversation and prayer. Their advisement is two-fold. First, they advise that we continue to worship in person as we have been - including RSVP's, temperature checks at the door, face masks worn during worship, and six feet of separation during seating. Secondly, they advise that we allow adult church school class meetings to resume at the discretion of each adult class beginning August 2, 2020. The Start-up Task Force expects that if an adult church school class returns to meet, they must self-govern in such a way that they maintain social distance with masks, offer temperature checks, properly clean and disinfect their class rooms, and provide no food or drink during this time. The Start-up Task Force recognizes that this needs to be part of a "slow rollout" for the well-being of both your class and the entire congregation. At this time, they ask that children and youth classes not take place during the Sunday morning class time. Our Friendship Pre-school will plan to follow the guidance and calendaring decisions laid out by the Putnam County Board of Education.
Per the Georgia Department of Health, we have seen three hospitalizations, one death, and a few dozen confirmed infections in Putnam County since our July 6 Start-up Task Force meeting. The task force recognizes that infections are happening and we want our congregation to take this very seriously. However, they also recognize that we must go forward together while taking reasonable measures to avoid infections. If you believe you are in a high risk category, are immuno-compromised, or possess potential co-morbidities, you are implored to remain at home during this time. We expect you to not come if you or someone you are in direct contact with is at risk! Just do not do it.
None of us could have imagined this would be the battle before us, but here we are. There is a debility that happens when we as a congregational family are put to separation the way we have been parted. I believe that we must attempt to come together with courage. If for any reason we are not gathering safely during this time, I reserve the right to press the proverbial pause button. However, I believe we need to try to come together safely in body, mind, and spirit. Thank you for your willingness to trust the Start-up Task Force during this time. Finally, I ask you join me as we pray for God's way forward, together.
In Christ alone,
Pastor David +