Return to Online-Only Worship and New Covid Guidance
Beloved Epworth Community,
New Year’s greetings and blessings to each of you. As this new year opens, it looks like we are going to get more practice in letting go of expectations and attachments. In this message, I will share with you some changes in our worship and gathering protocols, including the return to fully online worship services until at least February 13.
As you read in my email from Saturday night, due to a covid exposure at the New Year’s Eve Jazz and Poetry event at Epworth, the illness of our planned guest preacher, and concerns about further spread of the Omicron variant, it was necessary to suspend our own in-person worship on Sunday. We proceeded with joining our sister congregation, Easter Hill UMC in Richmond, for online worship. I trust you were blessed by Pastor Dale’s leadership and message.
Persons who attended the New Year’s Eve Jazz and Poetry should have been contacted through our contact tracing protocol. If you were present and did not get an email from Epworth concerning this, please let me know and I’ll forward it to you. Fortunately, we know of no other positives as a result of the event and the person who did test positive is asymptomatic.
The Do No Harm team met Sunday afternoon and determined that in order to keep our community safe and slow the spread of currently circulating variants of the coronavirus, we will do the following:
Suspension of in-person worship. Return to video worship until at least February 13. We have especially missed seeing children and their families in our return to worship so we hope to highlight their presence among us during this period.
Small groups can continue to meet at Epworth with current protocols except for activities that include singing or wind instruments, which are suspended. Current protocols include:
Designation of a group lead who checks vaccination status and provides list and contact information to the office
List of members prepared beforehand and members check off their name before entry. If there are any newcomers they need to sign in and show vaccination card to the group lead
No eating/drinking/food in the building
All members must mask (must now be N95 or KN95)
Social distancing of at least six feet
Windows must be open to improve air circulation
Groups may also return to Zoom. If your group needs a new Zoom link, please contact the office.
The Community Concert scheduled of January 16 has been postponed.
Though this was not how I had hoped to begin 2022, I know that we will find new blessings in this time, just as we have previously. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that we do have a covid relief fund set up for anyone experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have or know of a need.
Thank you for your perseverance and faithfulness. I know that God will see us through this period just as we have been carried to in times past. I look forward to seeing you online!
Grace and peace,