COVID-19 Updates


All Church Activities Suspended Until Further Notice

March 25, 2020

Friends,

I want to update you on our plans for in person worship and other church activities. There are lots of variables to consider as this decision is made, and as always, what is desirable isn’t always what is the correct course of action. In keeping with the guiding principle of protecting the most vulnerable among us, we are suspending all church activities indefinitely at this time. Currently Governor Kelly has issued Executive Order 20-14 limiting public gatherings to less than 10 people. While I know there is an exemption for religious groups, I do not feel comfortable going ahead in the current situation with gatherings. We will adhere to the recommendations of the CDC and local health officials. To read the executive order you can click here.

These changes mean that worship will continue in an online format until further notice. This will include Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I am planning an amazing celebration for our first Sunday pack together that will definitely reflect the pageantry of Easter. We will be expanding the content of worship and our offerings beyond Sunday morning through technology as we go forward. I’m working on the structures now so the content can expand.

Communion
At this time, we will not have Holy Communion until we gather again in person. As the situation changes, we may explore opportunities, but this is where we are at this point. Ideas are being shared regularly with ways we can connect and partake in shared meal experiences, and I will continue to look into those.

Children’s Programming
With church activities cancelled and the schools not meeting in person, we will not have any more sessions of KidZone at this time. However, we are going to offer a weekly email to our families that contain lessons and activities for them to do at home. Music and videos will also be included. The publisher of our materials has authorized the sharing in this way. To receive these emails, look in our newsletter for a signup or visit either the church’s or the Children & Youth Facebook page.

Pastoral Care
With visitation restrictions in place for our care facilities and hospitals, most of the pastoral care will need to take place through phone calls. I am available to do this for whatever your care needs might be. Please contact me on my cell phone at 785-414-8885. If you need to dial locally, the parsonage number is 890-2549, but there is not a voicemail available on that line.

If you would like to be a part of outreach by phone to our members in the coming month, please let me know. I am working on creating lists for different people to call and check in with our members. If this is interesting to you, please call or email me.

Giving
While we are not meeting in person, we still have expenses that will accrue for our ministries. Please continue to mail in your giving if that is something you are accustomed to. We also have the ability to receive online giving. You can find information on our website or in our newsletter.

Online Gathering Opportunities
I have begun hosting online gathering opportunities to stay in contact with as many people as possible. This will be done utilizing a program called Zoom. Details about times of gatherings will be shared through the newsletter and on our Facebook page.

Prayer Requests
If you have prayer requests you’d like shared during worship or in our newsletter, please send them directly to me by call, text, or email.

Office Hours
Our staff will not be regularly in the office during this time. We will be checking mail and messages and working remotely as often as possible. You can call and leave a message and we will get back to you within 24 hours. If it is urgent, please contact the pastor.


These are unique times which we don’t have a manual for how to proceed. We will continue to look at new ways to stay connected and serve our ministry. I ask for your prayers as we figure this out, and prayers for the health and safety of our community and world.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Zach


All Activities Cancelled Through March 31st

March 16, 2020
 
Friends,
 
It seems like information is coming to us quickly and is everchanging. On Saturday I wrote to those who receive our e-newsletter about the cancellation of Sunday services as guidelines had changed to the size of recommended gatherings. Since then they have changed again. The Center for Disease Control has amended the public gathering guidelines to include:
 

“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.
 
Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.
 
This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.”

 
In lieu of these guidelines, I am announcing a suspension of all church activities through March 31st. This includes Worship, UMW and UMMen events, KidZone, Youth Group, Music groups, and regular office hours. If you need something from the office please reach out to Pastor Zach by email (zanderson@greatplainsumc.org) or on his cell phone 785-414-8885. The staff will be working as needed during this time. We will be taking the time to do extensive deep cleaning of the building and preparing for the return of regularly scheduled programs. In consultation with many others, we will evaluate what we will be doing after March 31st. The guidelines recommend a longer timeframe, and it is possible this suspension will last longer, but we are going to start here and see how things develop.

These are unique times for us, and there is no manual on how to do things. We are working with the best information we have at any given time and learning to adapt as we go. A few things we are putting in place during this suspension.

  • Online worship each Sunday. We will be recording worship services from the sanctuary a day in advance and then posting on Sunday morning. This will allow you to worship at your leisure after they are posted. The goal is to post each Sunday morning at 9:30am. You can view this on our Facebook page by going to https://www.facebook.com/goodlandumc/. We will also post it to our website at www.goodlandumc.org.
  • I will be posting and sharing updates as we go through this time. Some of it will practical updates about our programing schedule, but other times it will be ways to practice our faith during this time.
  • I am available for phone calls and, if you are technologically savvy, video calls with you for pastoral care.
  • I have had some members contact me concerned about giving and our budget during this time. We currently have a donate function available on our Facebook page that you can utilize if you feel comfortable with that. We are working on another electronic giving option that I will share when it’s available. You can also mail your tithes/gifts to the church at: 1116 Sherman Ave. Goodland, KS 67735.

The most important thing during this time is to take care of yourself. Reach out to a friend or neighbor if you need something. Find ways to keep your mind focused on what you can control and go from there. And as always, pray without ceasing. There are a lot of people who are hurting and scared right now, and it’s sure to grow. Let us turn to God with our anxieties and lift one another in prayer.

I want to leave you these words from the Apostle Paul, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Praying with and for you,

Pastor Zach


Worship Services Suspended for March 15th

Friends, 
We are living in stressful times and we are learning to adapt as we go. After spending the day looking at guidelines and reading all the updated precautions recommended to the public, Church Leadership and I have made the difficult decision to suspend our in person worship together for tomorrow, March 15th. During the week we will be in conversation about what we will do in the coming days and weeks, but we didn’t want to hesitate for the coming week.

Recent guidelines recommend the suspension of gatherings that are of 100 people or more. This number clearly puts our worshiping congregation into the recommended group to halt gatherings temporarily. You can read about this recommendation here (http://www.kake.com/story/41894845/kdhe-recommends-avoiding-gatherings-larger-than-100-people?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_KAKE-TV&fbclid=IwAR2NjEovQ6LPlyQo6BVMJQApjmfxcdN-bs_aXi9cL0HQ9VZ8Y43pN_WLrCo). 

This decision is made to protect the most susceptible in our community and ensure we are being caring in that way. We will offer an online option for tomorrow morning and any Sunday we do not gather in person going forward. What this looks like and what is involved will continue to evolve. I promise to communicate updates as we make decisions. Look to our newsletter and Facebook postings to keep up to date. Please also share this information with church friends who may not see these postings as regularly as you do. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. 

In prayer with and for you,
Pastor Zach