Covid-19 Church Update
Tue, April 28, 2020
Dear Church Family:
“Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people.” (Psalm 111.1)
The Board of Stewards met (via Zoom) yesterday to discuss when and how we can move forward to resume in-person worship and other church ministries. Governor Abbott has allowed most businesses to re-open beginning today, but that does not mean that we are able (or should do so) immediately. Like the Psalmist, we are all eager to meet together again as the people of God to worship. At the same time, we should follow John Wesley’s first general rule as a Christian to “Do no harm.” Our primary concern remains the safety of all persons who come on our campus and not contribute to the spread of COVID-19, especially to those who are most vulnerable. This embodies the teaching of our Lord, who commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
We considered the recommendations from our Bishop Scott Jones and healthcare leaders from Houston Methodist Hospital and the Texas Medical Center leaders. All of them are urging that churches NOT resume in-person worship until June. The Board of Stewards and I agree with those recommendations, and therefore we will continue to worship online ONLY through May.
The challenge we face is that we are a large gathering of people with several hundred people at each of our worship services. At this time, our healthcare leaders do not believe it is safe to meet in larger groups. We hope to resume in-person worship beginning June 7, 2020. However, that decision will ultimately be governed by recommendations from our healthcare leaders. As a United Methodist Church in the Texas Annual Conference, we are blessed by a close relationship with the Houston Methodist healthcare system and will continue to seek their guidance in re-opening the church. The Board will meet again (via Zoom) in mid-May to consider where we are, and if it is safe for us to move forward with in-person worship.
As we look toward the future and gathering again in worship, you do need to know that things will look different. Re-opening will come with significant restrictions in the number of people our spaces will accommodate, where we sit, and how we worship. We are still evaluating various guidelines and recommendations, but service times will most likely be adjusted to allow proper disinfecting of our space and prevent the congesting in-between services. We do not anticipate offering child-care, Sunday School, Kid’s Zone, choirs, and other activities that cannot accommodate social-distancing guidelines. We are working hard to upgrade our video systems to live-stream our worship, even as we return to in-person worship. The Board will share a more detailed re-opening plan mid-May.
The church office will continue to have limited hours, primarily for the purpose distribution of food for persons in need. A pastor is on-call to meet any pastoral needs, and you can call the church office and follow the directions to reach a pastor. You can also email the pastors for prayer concerns and other pastoral needs. We continue to be in ministry, even if that ministry looks different for the time being.
We appreciate your prayers as we figure out these things. None of us has experience in how to lead out of pandemic. We all are learning through this experience together.
Grace and peace! (and stay safe)!