On Wednesday, February 17 the COVID team of Russell UMC gathered to discuss when we should regather for in-person worship. It was a heartfelt conversation looking at our context and calling in our community. We discussed the various ways in which we could restructure our worship services to create an environment that is safe and hospitable for all who enter our building, also striving to keep with the mitigation guidelines of our State and the heart of our Bishop. At that meeting, our COVID team reached the decision to return to in-person worship beginning March 7, 2021. We will continue to offer 2 services, as follows:
8:30a - in the Ministry Center (Contemporary)
11:00a - in the sanctuary (Traditional)
By spreading out, and holding services in both spaces, we strive to live into the occupancy mitigation. Our restrooms will be sanitized between services. We will continue to wear masks, make use of hand sanitizer, maintain distancing recommendations — all as part of our normal operating guidelines. This is how we will gather together.
There will be some differences in how we worship. Children will remain in their seats for the children’s Message. We are not encouraging singing at this time, and as a result we will enter into some more reflective/meditative times during worship, times of music, times of prayer, times of silence. This is how we worship together.
Despite the differences of how, the Who hasn’t changed, we worship the same magnificent God! We will be entering into what I like to call The Familiar Unknown. After all, we never truly know what to expect when we show up for worship! God shows up in remarkable ways that catch us by surprise, and we are beckoned to simply trust and follow!
As we journey deeper into Lent, I invite us to “give over” to God what we think church is, and let us follow Jesus into the wilderness... into the unknown... resisting the temptation for the familiar... knowing that the Spirit is leading us, and that there is great growth yet to come!
We will continue to have an online presence through our Facebook page for those who are not yet comfortable with returning to in-person worship. The sermon will still take place at 11 am just as it has for our online community. We will also continue to send out the printed copies of the sermon notes for those already on our mailing list. Please know that whether you join us online or in-person, we look forward to serving with you, worshipping with you, and growing with you in meaningful ways!