Looking Ahead – May 26, 2020
Howdy, Sebring UMC!
It has been over two months since we were able to meet face-to-face for worship. I know many of you are anxious to return to the church building. It holds meaning for some. I, too, want to be able to worship in the same room with you. We have to make sure it is as safe as it can be for everyone.
Bishop Tracy Malone and the East Ohio Conference Cabinet have been hard at work to give guidance to local churches as to how and when they should begin moving forward. You will find the EOC guidance at the bottom of this article which you can download. Here are the guidelines in a very brief nutshell:
Phase 1: This is what we are in. No in-person worship. Staff work from home. Building shut down for non-essential business.
Phase 2: Small groups can begin meeting again within the confines of mass gathering limitations defined by the Governor of Ohio.
Phase 3: In-person worship at reduced capacity can begin meeting again with social distancing and CDC-guided cleaning/sanitation guidelines in effect. (There are a LOT of safety guidelines in the PDF document. Please download and read it for a full list of requirements that should be met in this phase.)
Phase 4: This is as close to “normal” as we will get until there is a vaccine available for COVID-19.
We have been operating in Phase 1 of the plan since we discontinued in-person worship. Just recently, moving toward Phase 2 has been given conference blessing…with a major caveat: Churches moving beyond Phase 1 must develop and implement a plan to keep people safe through social distancing and cleaning. No church should move beyond Phase 1 without a plan.
Along with Pastor Fred and myself, Sebring UMC leadership has begun to meet to develop this plan. Until the plan is fully put in place, we will not move into Phase 2. There is no set date for when Phase 3 will occur. In essence, we are still in Phase 1 but working to move forward.
For some, it may seem that we are moving too slowly. For others, we are moving way too quickly. There is never going to be an answer to reopening the church building that satisfies everyone. So, we will continue to work to make sure that everyone is as safe as they can be when we DO reopen the building.
We love you, Sebring UMC!