Dear Church Family,
We continue our long march through the unknown territory of this pandemic. Here are a few things I have learned:
It’s much better to go through the unknown with a community of people, rather than going it alone. I really can’t imagine navigating this unprecedented time, with all of its anxieties and frustrations, without all of you. I have certainly done my share of listening and encouraging, and even have been energized by it. But there have also been many days when I have been down in the dumps and God has surprised me with the gift of one of you with an encouraging word or a listening ear. Our mantra has been “Be the church, call three people,” and I know it has kept many of us from completely losing it in this hard time. Keep up the good work of being the community of God to each other. It’s working, and it’s a much better way to travel through the unknown.
Our true character is being revealed in this time of crisis, and I love the character of our church. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the great images of the house built on the sand and the one built on the rock. In the storm the true foundation is revealed. Those who build on the rock stand firm. Friends, it is so clear to me that we have built our house on the Rock, who is Christ, and He is keeping us firm and calling us to be a steady beacon for our community. I couldn’t be more proud of our calm, unified, patient, strong presence in Parker County during these past four months.
The Scriptures are truly feeding us and applicable for today. I’m not sure there has ever been a time in my life where Scripture has come alive more than it has this year. The mystery of God’s Word and its ability to sustain us has been on display recently. Morning Watch has been our church’s way of gathering the manna every day so that we can make it through the wilderness. I am constantly receiving notes from you all that God’s Word has given you comfort, or provided clarity and wisdom in a time of struggle, or emboldened you to step out in faith for what God is calling you to do. We must continue to feast on the Word of God as we trudge forward.
When I wrote to you at the end of May, our leadership was hopeful that the threat of the virus in Parker County would be minimal, and we would be able to begin in-person worship on August 2nd. Since then, we have seen a significant spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Parker County, and so we must postpone our attempts at coming back to in-person worship. That is not really a shock to most of you, but it is still a hard reality to accept. For more information on the reasons behind these decisions, please see the FAQ page on our website.
We have been working hard to plan for a scaled return to in-person worship that we will implement once it is safe to begin gathering again. While it’s hard to say when exactly that will be, our leadership team is monitoring the daily increases in active cases. Once the number of active daily cases declines for a two week period, then we will begin the process of returning to in-person worship.
I have been extremely thankful for the unified and supportive efforts of everyone over these past four months. This is the moment when our patience will serve us best, so I continue to pray with you for God to sustain us. For now, we will follow God’s guidance through the “valley of the shadow of death” and be comforted by His rod and staff.
Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding Phase 1 of Re-Opening Texas
Why would we not meet if the Governor gave us permission?
In the documents detailing Phases 1 and 2 of reopening Texas, Governor Abbott (in consultation with the CDC) has continued to place some restrictions on in-person worship gatherings, to protect our community (particularly those most vulnerable). In that document the most important, and impactful guidelines are as follows:
Indoor spaces are limited in capacity.
Worshippers will continue to practice 6 ft. separation (except for family units).
Every other pew will be used to aid in separation.
Masks and gloves should be worn.
Worshippers aged 65 and over should be encouraged to stay home and worship online.
Anything that can be done virtually should still be done through that medium to aid in stemming the spread of the virus.
This means that in our sanctuary that has a capacity near 225, we would only be able to have 50-60 people in the space at one time. That might work for our 8:30am and 9:45am services, but it would mean that less than a third of our 11:00am service would be able to attend worship.
Why not schedule or reserve space so that a few can worship each week?
Limiting our worship to a few has two hazards to the commitments of our church:
We are not in the practice of limiting worship to only a select few people. It goes counter to the hospitality we hold dear.
We cannot ensure that things would be able to be cleaned and prepared properly between services, not to mention the hard realities of making sure that all participants (everyone) keeps their distance even though they desire to hug and hold those they have missed so much.
What would change about the on-line format if we begin to have in-person worship?
Technically speaking, not much would change about worshipping online if we begin to have in-person worship. You would still find it on Facebook Live or on our website (https://www.fumcw.org/worship-media/live-worship/). However, the experience would most likely feel much different. With only those helping to lead worship in the sanctuary, right now, all of our focus and attention is on you, as we look into the camera. But introducing a congregation back into the sanctuary means that our attention will naturally shift to those in the pews. If you can imagine with me, this means that the experience at home will shift from me being in your living room, to you watching through the back window as others worship. That’s a completely different experience.
Why not gather as a larger body if we are willing to gather in smaller groups?
Just like the government guidelines are different for local businesses and restaurants when compared to concerts and sporting events, we feel that smaller gatherings in “home churches” create a safer, less risky environment than a large group gathering in the sanctuary. Guidance on safe gatherings suggests that the risk to a few “known entities” is much lower than that of larger, less manageable gatherings.
Is there a projected date for returning to in-person worship?
With so much constantly changing, we are reluctant to name a target date. However, we are hopeful that about 60 days from now (August 2nd) we will be able to gather for in-person worship with lighter restrictions.
What would a “home church” gathering look like?
We aren’t exactly sure (which is why we are just in the exploring stage) but these gatherings would need to be small enough to provide participants enough room for practicing the recommended 6 foot distancing wearing masks and gloves. The goal would be to allow others to worship in community, reach new people (by focusing on our neighborhoods) and create some space for practicing Communion.
How can I keep giving?
You can keep giving in two primary ways:
Click on this link or visit fumcw.org/give to give through PayPal directly to our church.
Send a check to FUMCW at 301 S. Main St., Weatherford, TX 76086.
What is the best way to stay connected?
You can best stay connected by:
Joining us for Morning Watch every week day at 8:00am on Facebook Live through our church’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FUMCWeatherford/
Calling 3 people every day to check in and make sure they are doing okay.
Making “porch visits” by going to visit someone at their home and talking from the yard to the front door.
Having online interactions through web conferencing platforms like FaceTime and Zoom that can allow multiple people to meet at once.