From The Pastor

May 20, 2020
To My Dear Church Family and Friends at Oakland UMC,
I want to take a few minutes and share with you a plan we developed last Saturday to re-open church. Our Trustees have used the time since we closed on March 15th, to scrub and sanitize all of our buildings. The carpets in the sanctuary have been shampooed with the pews removed. The walls have been wiped down.  I want to thank them for the good job they have been doing.
     You might think it should be as simple as just unlocking the doors and turning on the lights, but it is not that simple. We are going to re-open as soon as it is humanly safe for us to open. I will not be tied down to a date. At this time, we will not be having any Sunday School classes. I have begun our Conversations around the Campfire on Wednesdays at 7:00, on the hall yard, bring a chair and join us. We will have a special Memorial Sunday outdoor service outside our double doors at the hall this Sunday, May 24 at 10:30. Please bring your own lawn chair, and some flowers to decorate our worship setting and then the graves afterward.  
     For the summer we will have no choir as usual, but we will have special music. There will be no nursery available for now. We will require everyone who comes to wear a mask. We are hoping to have masks available, if you do not have one. We will also practice social distancing. We also hope to start adding other ministries as we see how things go in mid-July, such as VBS. 
     The only restroom available will be the one in the hallway just outside the office. For the first several weeks, we want those who come to church to limit themselves to the hallway, the foyer, the sanctuary, the overflow room, and the restroom. The reason for that request is because if we wander around the building, we will have to go behind you and sanitize that area. So, please help us with this issue.  
     We will not be passing the offering plates but the mailbox we have been using for the Drive-up service will be available for your tithes and offerings, simply drop them in the mailbox. The bulletins will be placed on the tables in the gathering room,  where the offering mailbox will be. Also, there should be no hand-shaking, no hugs!  
     Now friends, please read carefully and hear what I am saying, but also please hear the thinking behind it. Even though we CAN have services again, it does not mean that everyone will feel comfortable coming back into a congregational setting. If you have any of the pre-existing conditions, my recommendation to you would be to stay home and watch the services on the video recordings. I do not want anyone in our church family to feel they are pressured into coming back, nor do I want anyone who chooses to come back to shame those who choose not to come back yet. I want this to be guided by your own common sense and choice. We must not judge anyone who chooses to stay home and watch the video recordings.  
     There are a few in our congregation who are young, strong, and healthy; and you may have no problem returning, if so, welcome. But, let’s be patient with everyone else, and let each person decide for themselves when they think it is safe! 
     In our meeting last Saturday, I came away so encouraged with the attitude of our Task Force for reopening our church. As we talked, it was very clear we want to open, but we want to open with you, our family, in mind. Your health and safety is our primary concern. Our preference is that you stay home until we see how things will work out. But, if you choose to come, we are going to do everything we can to make it as safe as possible. We will open when all of the proper safety precautions and resources are in place.  
     So, as seriously as I can say it, if you have any qualms about returning, then please stay home. You will not offend anyone for being careful with your health. I told the Task Force, that we are not going to stand out in the hallway and act like a bunch of overlords making sure everyone is in compliance with every rule and guideline that has ever been drawn up! We are not going to have the “Compliance Feds” standing at each door. We are adults here, and I know we have enough sense to know what is right and what is wrong.   
     The gist of what I am saying is this: we have some decisions to make, and we hope we will make the best decision for you and your family. You also have a part in this process, staying healthy and yet spiritually disciplined. Thank you for your attention to these matters, and may God bless you and your family.
Pastor Bob

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