COVID 19 Communications
July 1, 2020
Dear friends of Port Huron FUMC,
When Solomon became king of Israel, the first thing he requested of God was wisdom—wisdom to lead his people well, wisdom in decision-making, wisdom to know right from wrong. If you know the story (see 1 Kings 3), then you know God was very pleased with this particular request.
Over the past four months, leaders all over the world have been grappling with how to best respond to the coronavirus outbreak. Through it all, it has become clear that there is not agreement on the best approach to addressing the issues created by this pandemic. The two major fronts are human health and geo-political economics, and most tactics for tacking the respective concerns are often at odds with each other.
For people of faith, there is another issue at play, which is our desire—and need—to be able to worship together in person again. Just as businesses and governments have been trying to figure out how to re-open the economy without disrupting our endeavors to “flatten the curve,” so churches and congregations have been trying to figure out how to best re-open our sanctuaries in a manner that does not contribute to the spreading of covid-19 among our church members.
As the church leaders tasked with addressing the re-opening of our own church, our desire and hope is to infuse our discussions and decision-making with the same wisdom Solomon was given. To this end, we covet your prayers. Please ask God to grant us heavenly wisdom, that as we move forward, we will make choices and decisions which glorify God, respect the hearts (concerns, hopes, desires, etc.) of all persons effected by our decisions, and pave a safe and effective pathway to being fully ‘open for business.’
Where Things Stand Right Now For Our Congregation
Originally, our hope was to begin in-person worship on July 12, albeit on a limited basis. However, on June 30, your Church Council unanimously decided to postpone this opening. To be clear, in-person worship will NOT begin July 12.
The Church Council came to that decision for two reasons. First, the number of positive covid-19 infections has been on the rise in Michigan. Last week, officials traced 100 new infections to a bar in East Lansing which had instituted all the mandated safeguards. And this week, Lenawee County, which has seen very few infections for four months, suddenly jumped to being regarded a medium-high risk; in one week, they experienced a 7% increase in infections. Because communities throughout Michigan are experiencing similar increases, the Church Council believes it is more prudent to not rush into re-opening our worship at this time.
Second, our discussion revealed the fact that we have more work to do in putting together our plan of opening. To that end, a team of five, including Pastor Drew, has agreed to take on the responsibility of putting together a well thought-through, clearly written, and overly-communicated plan of action for re-opening our in-person worship. As of this reading, the team has already met once, and will be diligently working to come up with a plan which can be shared with and understood by everyone in the church. They have also committed themselves to making sure communications with the congregation regarding this plan are many and varied.
As far as various groups meeting indoors, we will continue the protocols set in place at the start of the pandemic: no use of the inside of the facilities by outside groups, and no funeral lunches. Alcoholics Anonymous and Alanon may meet in the parking lot as desired. The one exception to this no-use of building protocol will be the August 4 Primary Election, as First United Methodist Church is an official polling site.
Where We Go From Here
For the time being, we have decided against setting a new goal-date for re-opening. For one, it is very difficult to choose a date when the fact remains that we have no way of knowing what the near future holds in regard to the state of positive coronavirus in our community. And secondly, we are aware that constantly setting and postponing dates of re-opening can be more discouraging than having to live into a period of open-endedness.
So instead of shooting for a particular date, we have decided to align our re-opening around meeting certain safety criteria. As one way of establishing these criteria, we would like to get your input. To that end, we have put together a brief, but very helpful, survey which will help us know what is important to you as it regards your decision to participate in in-person worship again. You may participate in this survey in one of two ways. Either:
Fill out the hard copy version of this survey (included with this letter) and return it to the church in the enclosed addressed envelope by WEDNESDAY, JULY 22. Or…
Fill out the electronic version that will be emailed on (or around) July 8. [If you are not on our email list and would like to complete the e-version, please contact the church office and give us your email address.]
Please note the following:
For the sake of getting good information, you should only complete one or the other; please do not share your feedback via both the hardcopy and the electronic version.
In both methods of feedback, your identity is 100% anonymous. In fact, you are not even asked to identify who you are!
All surveys must be completed (and hard copies returned) by Wednesday, July 22.
We know that our lack of in-person worship has resulted in many of you feeling more than a little disconnected from our church family. We know that as nice as it is to hear the worship service, and maybe even participate remotely, it is not the same as being in each other’s presence. And we know that a huge benefit of re-opening our worship service would be people reconnecting with one another. But until we can feel good about the manner in which we do this, and have a good sense that we will not inadvertently harm anyone in the process, we would like to ‘err’ on the side of caution and well-being for everyone’s sake – both for the worshipers (who have a choice of coming) and the worship leaders (who have no choice).
To up our game, in the next week or so we will be adding a visual element to our Sunday worship offering. In addition to listening to it live on WPHM 1380 AM at 9:30, it is our hope to also livestream it on Facebook at 9:30. Our Facebook address is
Once Pastor Drew is settled in, we will continue to offer our Facebook devotionals.
If you really want to lay eyes on a church friend on Sunday morning, we would encourage you to listen to the worship service or watch it on Facebook from the safety of your car while parked in the church parking lot! But please do remember to wear a face mask and keep a safe distance from one another if you decide to get out of your vehicles.
Finally, if you are not receiving our weekly electronic newsletter/email (which goes out each Friday), please call or email the church office and get on our mailing list. This is a great way to stay in the loop!!
Please pray for us as we endeavor to wisely plan for the reopening of our in-person worship.