Please read the following message from Rev. Deane regarding in-person worship:
Dear JM Church family and friends,
As I write this, it’s mid-March and we are just getting used to the longer days (and darker mornings) of daylight savings time. It’s been a full year since we gathered in person for worship, study, and fellowship, and I’m sure many of you miss that as much as I do. I’m writing to give you an update on our relaunch plans (always subject to change if our health department or Bishop changes something in the current guidelines).
With some of us receiving one or two doses of the covid-19 vaccine, and numbers of infections declining, the relaunch team is looking to resume some in-person worship on Palm Sunday, March 28th. This email will explain the procedures we have in place to keep everyone safe. In the meantime, if you are part of our online worship community, please know that we will also continue the online services via Facebook and YouTube. Everyone matters to us, and we don’t intend to leave anyone behind.
- Our entry procedures for the church building allow entrance through the prayer garden on 5th Avenue; this entrance has a ramp and is therefore accessible to most of our congregation.
- You will experience a brief health check and masks and hand sanitizer will be available to those who need them. Please note that per health department regulations and the guidance of our Bishop, masks will be required of everyone in the building.
- You will be directed to seating in the sanctuary; signs will block off some pews so that we maintain social distancing. Family groups will of course be seated together, but please remember not to mingle right now with those outside your “bubble” of family or close contacts. Many people still haven’t been vaccinated, and our youth and young adults may not receive immunizations until late spring or early summer, based on current information.
- You will be given any bulletins, handouts, or worship aids (palm branches, for example) as you enter the worship space. There will not be hymnals or other printed materials in the pews. As we begin to return in-person, we will likely not have written bulletins.
- Offering plates will be at entrances and at various places in the sanctuary; we will not “pass the plates”.
- Following the best information and guidance from both health experts and our Bishop, we will not have congregational singing at first. Instead, there will be instrumental music in the sanctuary and possibly pre-recorded choral music displayed on our screens. The staff and worship team are still working on details, but it’s likely that some of the liturgy and mission moments will also be pre-recorded and shown on the screens. (For those of you joining us online, this will look similar to our current format.)
- Sunday School classes desiring to meet in person should reserve a large enough space to provide appropriate social distancing (chapel, where the chairs can be circled or otherwise moved, or the fellowship hall, for example). Currently, no food or drink can be served in the building, so do not plan on coffee and donuts, or an after-worship punch and cookies reception. We hope that those parts of our fellowship can resume by summer, but for now it is not known to be safe. I err, if at all, on the side of caution here.
- In order to make sure we can maintain appropriate distancing and keep everyone safe, please contact the church office during regular hours the week before worship to let us know that you hope to attend; we can then schedule additional services or worship spaces as needed to accommodate everyone. Church office hours are 9-1 weekdays, email email@example.com, phone 304-525-8116. If you need childcare or special access (using the elevator from 10th street, for example), please let us know before Friday if possible so that we can arrange staffing and safety measures. People will not be turned away at the door if they have not reserved a seat, unless we are “full” based on current social distancing capacity, but it will help us to know early how many to plan for.
I have missed seeing many of you in person, and yet I also celebrate those of you who are joining us online. As we move forward into a hybrid form of worship, I’m reminded of the words from the Revelation to John: And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ (Rev. 21:5). God really is offering us new possibilities as we move forward in faith and love. The staff and volunteers at JM look to God and trust in our shared future.