April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020
To all families and friends of the Oakland United Methodist Church,

As we continue to battle COVID-19, we are becoming weary. Weary of staying inside. Weary of seeing the same thing day after day. Weary that the virus is getting more attention than our lives. Weary that it is just dragging on and on. We are getting weary. But fear not, change is coming! In fact, it is already here.

On Mother’s day, I offered a Drive-up parking lot service on our hall parking lot. We sat in our cars and listened to the service over the radio. Although we were in our cars, we were still able to see one another, to pray with one another, to sing hymns with one another, to hear special music, and to hear the Gospel preached. While there were a few glitches, which I will correct, the service was fairly well received. I will continue to offer the Drive-up parking lot service for the foreseeable future.  

As we have done the past couple of months, we also posted the full video of the prerecorded full worship service online.  We will continue to post videos of our worship service, but they will be scaled back in content. We will continue to post the scripture lesson and the sermon online.
At the request of Bishop Easterling, I have created a Task Force for the re-opening of the church. The Task Force consists of health care professionals, representatives from the Board of Trustees, the SPRC, the Church Council, the Finance Committee, our Lay Leader,  and myself. The purpose of the Task Force is three-fold. The Task Force is first and foremost, finding ways to protect life as we consider our options for worshiping together in person again. Secondly, we are establishing the criteria for allowing us to worship again. Thirdly, we are incorporating the guidelines of the CDC into our planning to make our facilities safe for persons to use. A few of us have attended webinars offered by the Annual Conference on the Who, What, and Where of re-opening our church. Resources may be found on the AC website at www.bwcumc.org. Re-opening the church, according to the Bishop, will be a “fluid” situation. There may be times that we will be asked to scale back some of our opportunities, other times we will move through the three phases as outlined and delineated by Governor Hogan’s office.  We will be required to wear face masks and to practice social distancing. We will work together.

I look forward to worshiping together again, even though it will be a little different. I miss being with you all. I miss seeing your faces. I miss hearing your voices. But for now, we will continue to pray for one another in this separation. We will practice social distancing. We will wear face masks. We will wash our hands. We will remain faithful. A decision on reopening the church for worship is forthcoming soon.
Ephesians chapter 4 says: “I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together…” – Ephesians 4:1-3.

We ask God to continue blessing us as we live our lives with love for Him.  May our decisions, our hopes, and our actions reflect His will, here in the slow re-opening of in-person attendance, and in every aspect of our individual lives. To offer a word of hope, spread a word of hope, to encourage hope and not fear is our calling.
Pastor Bob

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