Reopening the Church!
Sunday July 26th, 10 am
Kipling United Methodist Church Family,
Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope this letter finds you well! I am writing this pastoral letter to inform you about the reopening of Kipling UMC. I wanted to begin by thanking the myriad of people who have been able to come out to our cottage meetings. It has been a privilege getting to know many of you over the last month, and I look forward to meeting those of you who I have not had the opportunity to greet as of yet. In those gatherings many have asked about our plans to reopen. I know that many of you are eager to return to worship and many of you are likely anxious and apprehensive knowing the risks that coming together likely brings.
While considering when and how to reopen, we have taken into careful consideration the recommendations of our governmental and church leaders. Currently our Governor Roy Cooper and our Bishop Hope Morgan Ward are recommending that we NOT gather for worship as our COVID-19 rates of infection and mortality are still high. COVID-19 is indiscriminate in who it affects and even worse it can be spread through people who have little or no symptoms. The risk is highest among those over the age of sixty and those with suppressed immune systems. With all of this in mind, our conference leadership acknowledges that some smaller congregations may choose to gather and if they do, there are strict guidelines to follow for the safety and wellbeing of our members and neighbors.
In July we organized a volunteer taskforce for reopening, and we gathered for the purpose of discerning the best and safest ways to reopen in the midst of COVID-19 and in doing so we explored the conferences safety restrictions and guidelines. I am grateful for the many perspectives that participated in those gatherings and their love for God and their desire to reopen Kipling UMC safely. We gathered twice for conversation and to develop a plan of action, we contacted many of our members to gain perspective, we deep cleaned our church with disinfectants, and we implemented our conferences restrictions with signage. With all of this in mind, we are reopening for in person worship this coming Sunday August 2nd at 11 am, with the below restrictions in place. We will also continue to record our service and publish this online on Facebook, YouTube and website and we invite all who wish to continue to worship with us in this way. If you are considering joining us in person, please read the rest of the letter so that those who participate in person are on the same page following the guidelines set by our Bishop Hope Morgan Ward.
Safety Restrictions and Guidelines
These restrictions have been adopted by Kipling UMC taskforce after the recommendation of our Bishop.
Weekly cleaning, Kipling church has been deep cleaned and sanitized and will be every week prior to our in-person gatherings.
Face Coverings, Every person who attends is required to wear a face covering (i.e. mask, or face shield) for the entire service. Children under the age of 11, are not required to wear face coverings, however if they are able we encourage them to wear one. While we recognize that there are some people who cannot wear a face-coverings, whether for health reasons or personal concerns, we are requiring face coverings for everyone. For those who are unable to follow this guideline we invite you to continue to worship with us online at this time.
Physical Distancing, we will have ushers who will greet you and offer a face mask for those who need them and then usher individuals and/or family units to pews so that we can ensure everyone is safely distanced.
NO Congregational Singing, we will have special music and hymns lead by our musicians but given the risk that congregational signing brings, we will not be singing together at this time.
No Bulletins or Hymnals, Our entire worship service will be available on screen only.
NO Communion, Due to the risk we will not share in communion until further notice.
NO passing of peace, We will share in a holy air high five, or a bow until further notice.
No Sunday school or Children’s church.
Offering, We will NOT be passing offering plates, but we will place them in the back of the sanctuary as you leave worship feel free to drop them there. Or you can mail them in, whatever suits you best.
Sick? Stay home! We also ask, that if you are sick, or if you have contracted COVID-19, or come into contact with someone who has, please stay home and join us for worship online.
This global pandemic has given rise to new ways to be disciples of Jesus, and new forms of ministry for churches like Kipling UMC. We will continue to offer online worship experiences every week. We will adapt and record our Sunday morning service and then we will edit and post online. While this will mean that our service will not be live Sunday morning, at least at this time, it will be available no later than Monday and we invite you to join us once it is posted, either on Facebook, YouTube, or our website.
If you are eager to connect with Kipling beyond worship whether online or in person, we are also preparing to launch online Bible Studies, which we will begin by September. We hope you will join us as we seek to love and follow God together in this way.
We are in peculiar times and there is no blueprint for how to be the church in the midst of a global pandemic. I trust that Jesus’ words on the most important commandments are good guides, “love God with your entire being and love your neighbor as yourselves”. Friends, we love God best when we love others well. And we love others best when we stay in love with God. May God’s Spirit enable and empower us to love God and neighbor.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Justin Jamis