Covid-19  and Return to the Building

We are pleased to begin offering in-person worship in our Sanctuary for the first time in months this coming Sunday, August 9, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. August will be a time of transition and change as we begin to return to the church building and as we learn to live in this time of pandemic. Though some of our congregants have been eager to go back to the sanctuary for months, we know that not everyone will be comfortable resuming worship in the sanctuary, and we support you in making the right decisions for your household. Worship will continue to be available live at 10:00 on Facebook or later in the day (usually by noon) on our You Tube channel.

 

Bishop Trimble of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church and our North Central District Superintendent the Rev. Chris Nunley asked that we submit a carefully thought out and written plan for how we will handle reopening before we could be approved to do so. It was the Administrative Board’s job, with guidance from our Pastor, to complete and approve this plan and to recruit volunteers to agree to take on pieces of its implementation.

 

We contacted our insurers to confirm that will have full coverage as long as we follow CDC guidelines. HVAC systems were checked and cleaned. Carpeting was cleaned and pews, restrooms and kitchen have been sanitized. Internet service was installed in the church in June. A huge cache of AV equipment paid for by a grant from Lilly Endowment’s Center for Congregations was installed as it was received through the summer. And then we prayed and planned.

 

Here is what in-Sanctuary worship will look like…

Preparations and Procedures implemented considering our priorities and the guidelines of the UMC:

  1. A welcome sign has been created and will be installed the week of August 3, 2020.

  2. Two infrared thermometers have been obtained for use at the BACK DOOR, which will be the only unlocked entrance at present. Anyone entering the building for worship, or for a meeting or study group, will have his or her temperature taken at the door. A team of RNs from the congregation will manage this process.

  3. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed at the following locations: front and back doors, kitchen, each restroom.

  4. Facemasks will be required to be worn at all times in the parking lot, and on both floors of the building. by people over the age of 2, One-time use masks are to be disposed of outside the building. Washable masks (thanks to Shiela and Debbie) will be gifted to those who prefer cloth and will be laundered by the wearer and re-used.

  5. In the place of our previous habit of shaking hands and hugging to greet one another, we will wave and offer thumbs up.

  6. Congregants will sit 6 feet apart (36 sq. ft distance around each individual or group of people who live together and are sitting together.) A member of the greeter team will help visitors find appropriate seeing.

  7. In lieu of printed bulletins, the order of worship will appear in the slide show as was the case previously.

  8. We will encourage individuals to bring their own Bibles, as neither Bibles for hymnals will be available in the pews. We will offer new Bibles to anyone who needs one

  9. Until further notice, we will have no singing or unison speaking, including call to worship, litanies, The Lord's Prayer.

  10. Instead of ushers passing the plate, a basket will be provided in the chancel for tithes and gifts to be placed before or after the service.

  11. There may be an absence of air conditioning/heat/electric fans.

  12. Bathrooms will be cleaned after each use by each user. (Lysol or Clorox spray and a roll of paper towels will be left in each restroom with signs that ask users to spray and wipe toilet and sink before they leave and dispose of those towels in the wastebasket in the restroom)

  13. Beginning September, 1, 2020, small groups—Bible Study, prayer groups, committees, and board meetings—can  be held in the basement if all who want to attend are comfortable doing so, but attendees will be expected to have their temperature taken on entry (first person there runs the thermometer), wear masks, socially distance themselves by 6 feet in each direction for the event. If there are members who wish to attend by Zoom rather than face-to-face, Pastor Angela can set this up.

  14. Follow up with new visitors will be done by the Chair of the Communications Committee.

  15. Training on use of tech equipment for some Board members and other interested Volunteers will be held on a date to be determined

  16. Options for livestreaming copyrighted music in our livestreamed and online worship services has been researched. The Admin Board voted on June 23rd, 2020 against acquiring any licenses for music and streaming at this time. Therefore, only hymns found in the public domain can be legally used for worship.

  17. If a member or visitor tests positive for Covid-19 anytime within two weeks after attending a service or meeting in our building, he or she should contact Pastor Angela (317- 373-9581 or pastor@bethlehemumc@gmail.com) or Administrative Board Chair Pat Johnston (317-855-3224 or pijohnston@aol.com) at once so that others can be notified of their possible exposure.
     

A binder with this information will be kept at the welcome table and on the kitchen counter for easy reference by members and visitors.  This document will also be shared on our church webpage and Facebook page and through a mailing to the congregation.

Theology Behind this Plan

Our Missional vision for God’s ministry at BUMC is To Love Persons into a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

The priorities of our response reflect Jesus’ great commandment to us in scripture

Matthew 22:36-40 (Common English Bible)

36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

 

Matthew 28:16-20 (Common English Bible)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

            First and foremost, in our planning, is protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our congregation and visitors.  This means that as Christians we follow Jesus’ lead in doing all within our power to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our community. We recognize that BUMC is a high-risk congregation because half of our worshipping community is over 65 years of age and many of our congregation live with high risk chronic conditions. Second, we want to keep the ministries which have grown during this time, including online worship. But we also want to GROW our ministries. Third, maintaining Jesus’ mission as revealed in scripture is the driving force of all we do.

 

We are grateful to The Center for Congregations, Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, Indiana, for a generous grant for technical equipment for the 21st Century.

 

We are grateful to our Pastor, Angela Gafford-Asmus, who continually and in a timely manner shared any and all information regarding the UMC’s response to COVID-19 as well as the guidelines from the CDC, the state of Indiana, the Indiana conference of the UMC, Fishers response as well as appropriate research links.  She and her husband Joel spent countless extra hours learning the ins and outs of producing on-line worship, each week being just a bit more polished than the last. Additionally, Pastor Angela authored and shepherded the writing and submission of the grant from Lilly Endowment, with help from Joel Asmus and parishioner David McCabe in choosing and ordering the appropriate equipment and getting it installed.

We are also grateful to our Administrative Board and some additional key congregants who took upon themselves the ordering and installing of or making ready the many items you will see listed as part of this plan.

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