Spring greetings! It seems fitting, in this season of Pentecost, celebrating birth of the Christian Church through Holy Spirit baptism, to announce the re-launching of our ‘in person’ worship services at UMC of Auburn. Beginning Sunday, May 30th (Trinity Sunday/Memorial Day weekend), we will offer ‘in person’ worship services at 8:30 am (simultaneous zoom broadcast) and 10 am (simultaneous sanctuary livestream broadcast on You Tube, UMCA Facebook page and website, www.auburnmethodist.org). The 10 am service will also be accessible from the UMCA parking lot on radio, 88.3 FM, and will be available for later viewing on our website.
Thank you for your faithful patience during our scramble to establish an online worship presence, with shifting forms of expression. None would have imagined, when gathered for worship on March 8th, 2020, that it would be 14 months before we could safely gather again for ‘in person’ worship without social distancing. Praise God that time has come!
The Re-launch Team, Church Council and I invite you to Re-gather for Worship on May 30th, and ask you to ‘hold’ the date of September 12th (raindate 19th) for an all-church homecoming picnic! It is our hope that ‘in person’ church school, nursery care, youth group and choir may resume on September 12th, but that judgment call will be made closer to that time.
What may a parishioner expect on May 30th? Many have been vaccinated against COVID-19, so social distancing will no longer be required. There may well be, however, children and others who have not been vaccinated, so we request mask-wearing for the safety and solidarity of all. Since worship leaders will not be masked while leading worship, the front two rows of the sanctuary will remain unavailable for use. Emergency exit doors on either side of the chancel will be open for ventilation, but fans will not be used.
Cushions, Bibles and hymnals will be restored to the pews, but the printed Worship Guide (bulletin) will include song lyrics and everything needed for participation. Worship guides, communion celebration cups (1st Sunday each month) and an offering plate will be available on a Hospitality Table just before entering. A slip of paper will be included in the Worship Guide for congregants to record their name(s) and deposit in the offering plate, along with any contribution(s). These will make contact tracing possible should it ever be necessary.
Temperatures will not be taken, and a Sanitation Station will be available in the fellowship hall. We encourage ‘elbow bump greetings’ rather than shaking hands or hugging. Our nursery attendant will not be available until the fall, but the nursery will be open for parents who wish to take their children there at any time.
Singing – At present, the CDC advises against congregational singing. A designated soloist will sing the hymns and responses, inviting the ‘in person’ congregation to hum along rather than sing. We encourage visiting in the parking lot following the services. After the 10 am service (sunny days), coffee will be available at a Hospitality Table in the parking lot.
I think that about covers it! Whether you join us for ‘in person’ worship or continue with ‘online’ worship, please know that we are delighted you spend part of your Sunday with us. May God’s grace be with you in this season of homecoming.
Pastor Steve Bascom, UMC of Auburn