Friday, July 10th, 2020
Dear Members and Friends of UMC of Auburn,
Grace to you and peace from God our Creator, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit. Oh, how I have missed gathering with you in person over these past few months! Now that some of the State of Maine restrictions have eased, we can begin the journey toward a return to ‘in-person’ worship and the re-opening of the UMCA campus.
After much prayer and conversation, the Re-launch Team and Church Council support the creation of a weekly ‘Parking Lot Worship’ option in addition to the on-line, live-stream beginning Sunday, July 19th, 10 am. Worshipers will remain in their vehicles, tuning in by radio (88.3 FM), to hear the service which will be presented from a raised platform near the parking lot church entrance. We encourage you to ‘practice locating’ the radio frequency on your car system before the day of the service.
Beginning at 9:30 am and using the south lot entrance (closest to Lake Street), parking attendants wearing reflective, yellow vests will guide those attending to designated parking spaces arranged to accommodate social distancing. We ask you to bring and wear facial masks when windows are open. For hygienic, safety reasons, restrooms will not be available. Once cars are parked, ushers wearing mask and gloves will distribute ‘worship guides,’ and gather tithes and offerings from those who choose to contribute. On the first Sunday of the month, they will also distribute sealed, singular-serving communion elements for sacramental use during worship.
The service will be held rain or shine, unless extreme weather presents a safety issue. If that should happen, an announcement will be made before 7:30 am through parish email, and postings to both Facebook and website, stating that Sunday’s service will be by on-line, live-stream only.
Effective Monday, July 20th, the UMCA campus will be available for limited use by church and outside groups with the following protocols: one group per day (less than 50) scheduled through administrative assistant Carla Daigle, only the fellowship hall and restrooms will be available for use (kitchen, lounge, sanctuary and church school wing will be locked), masks and social distancing will be required, cleaning of surfaces and lavatory will be necessary after each use.
Conversation, timing and protocols around ‘in-person, inside worship’ continue, as pandemic statistics evolve. A survey was distributed to the congregation with 63 responses (58 internet/5 without). Under restrictive protocols, 25 indicated a willingness to return to ‘in-person, inside worship,’ with 38 (ages varied) indicating an unwillingness to do so. If you wish to see further survey results, send a request to me at (207) 753-1275 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a copy of the summary.
Upon recommendation of the Relaunch Team, Church Council voted last night to re-commence the 8:15 am worship service, beginning September 27th. This will be in addition to the on-line and drive-in services at 10 am, and will enable us to practice protocols for in-person worship for a few Sundays before weather prevents us from holding the outdoor drive-in service. The state limit of 50 or less is still in effect, so that will limit capacity of attendance. A mailing will be sent announcing the protocols that will guide our 8:15 am service gathering.
Please know that you continue in my heart and prayers,
Rev. Steve Bascom, Pastor
In behalf of the UMCA Church Council