Dear Newfane UMC Church Family
We are preparing to re-open Newfane United Methodist Church building. Newfane United Methodist Church never closed. Our mission did not change. Our ministries did not end. We adapted.
There is a new normal in our world. We are not going back to “The Way We Used To Do Things.”
The first of John Wesley’s Three General Rules is Do No Harm. It is critical that we continue to do everything we can to minimize the potential for the spread of coronavirus. Unlike the “common cold” and flu, there is not wide spread community immunity to this disease and until a vaccine is developed and perfected, there is a high risk of contagion, especially in mass gatherings of people. We, as Christians, have a command from our Lord to love one another, which makes protecting each other a sacred duty. We do not want to contract the disease and we do not want to infect others. Many in our congregation meet the criteria for high risk of contracting the disease, with the potential for serious or fatal consequences. Anyone who fits any of the high risk categories should carefully weigh the risks involved in coming into close contact with large numbers of people, especially since a person can be contagious 1-2 weeks before they show any symptoms. You are asked to prayerfully assess your health status prior to entering the building; please STAY HOME if you are not feeling well, are showing any symptoms of COVID 19, or if you think you may have had an exposure to the virus.
We will continue to live stream our worship services. Anyone who feels that they are at high risk, or anyone who is uncomfortable with returning to in-person gatherings, is encouraged to continue to worship virtually.
For those who do choose to return to our sanctuary for worship, your experience will be different. Please see the partial list at the end of this letter for some details. Registration to attend is needed to make sure we can safely seat you. Please register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3SC5MHL by July 1 for services in the month of July.
We have seen many changes in the past few months, and more lie ahead. Things will continue to evolve and our plans and procedures will change and evolve with them. You will be notified as changes are made to our procedures.
As always, you are encouraged to contact anyone on the church leadership team if you have any questions or suggestions. A limited number of complaints will also be entertained. Please be patient and forgiving; prayerfully consider the challenges we face as we strive to insure everyone’s health, safety and well-being.
Some questions that we should be asking ourselves: What have we learned along the way – about ourselves, about our faith community? What is truly essential – to you as an individual and to us as a portion of the Body of Christ? What do we want to continue doing? What new things can we try? How is God calling us in this season? What opportunities is He putting before us? How can we answer His call and be the church? Watch for opportunities to have those conversations.
NUMC Re-Open/Relaunch Team
High risk Categories:
- older adults (65 and older) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions
- Moderate to severe asthma
- chronic kidney disease, especially being treated with dialysis
- chronic lung disease, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD
- hemoglobin disorders
- immunocompromised, weakened immune system (cancer treatments, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplants, HIV/AIDS, prolonged use of prednisone or similar drugs)
- liver disease
- people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- serious heart conditions
- severe obesity
- In addition: anyone who is routinely exposed to people infected by COVID 19 (healthcare workers, emergency personnel).
Some changes that you may expect to see during worship:
- Social distancing protocols require that people only sit near those you are already in close contact with (primarily family). Otherwise, a distance of 6 feet is required between people. People will therefore be spread out through the sanctuary.
- Pews will be left intentionally empty.
- Attendance may be limited and it is currently necessary to make “reservations” to attend in-person worship in order to accommodate everyone who wishes to participate.
- Traffic patterns for entering and exiting the sanctuary will be established
- People will be expected to remain in their seats throughout the service. Those who leave the sanctuary during a service may not return to the sanctuary, but may take an appropriately socially distanced seat in the Memorial Room.
- You will be asked to wash or sanitize your hands before entering the building; sanitizer will be available but you may bring your own if you wish.
- Masks must be worn when entering or exiting the building or moving through the building. They may be removed while seated. Please bring your own, although a supply will be available for those who forget theirs or for guests.
- The Country Health Department requires that we be able to produce a list of attendees at any group event in case of exposure to someone who is ill. Therefore, you will be asked for contact information upon entering the building.
- There will be no fellowship time/coffee hour in the building. Small groups may gather outside; please maintain social distancing protocols of 6 feet apart.
- There will not be a pastor’s greeting line and there will be not physical contact during Passing of the Peace when reinstated. Suggested alternatives to handshakes or hugs: Smile and wave, prayer hands and head nod. Be creative!
- Bulletins will not be printed and all Bibles, hymnals, and pew pads have been removed from the sanctuary to minimize contact with frequently touched surfaces / common use items. The Order of Worship, including hymns, will be projected onto the screens in the front of the sanctuary. It will also be sent via email prior to worship and you may print it and bring it with you; please take it with you when you leave (carry in, carry out).
- Congregational singing will not occur; you may hum along with the music or vocalists.
- Collection plates will not be passed. They will be placed near the doors to the sanctuary. You are encouraged to continue electronic giving or mail your offering to the church.