Healthy Church Team Updates

In the spring of 2020, the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church elected to transition away from in-person worship and programming for a season to contribute to mitigation efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Governor began opening aspects of society back up, Bishop Sharma Lewis and the Virginia Conference issued mandatory guidance on re-opening. A crucial component of these guidelines is the creation of a Healthy Church Team to comprehensively implement these steps for the local congregation.

 At the May 2020 Church Council meeting, Josh Blakely (Worship Chair) was designated as the chair of the Healthy Church Team. The following members of the congregation/leadership are also serving on the team:

  • Rev. Michael Kendall – Senior Pastor
  • Rev. Lyndsie Blakely – Minister of Youth
  • Patti Wagner – Lay Leader
  • Mary Jane Cook – Chair, Staff-Parish Relations Committee
  • Kevin Callihan – Music Ministry
  • Kaitlin Callihan – Music Ministry
  • Gordon Ring – Music Ministry
  • Jo Smith – Worship Committee
  • Mary Ann Pruitt – Nurse Practitioner

The team has begun meeting weekly to plan a return to full operation of the church in in-person formats. In all likelihood, church will look different for a while as the team works to implement these mandatory guidelines while responding to the changing science behind the COVID-19 crisis. Updates from the team are below. Please note that these notes below are not meant to be an exhaustive list of the topics discussed in any meeting. All meetings are recorded and links posted below for viewing if desired. Italicized comments indicate business conducted at the meeting.

HCT Meeting – June 18, 2020, 4 pm (Via Zoom) – Link to recording

Agenda:

Opening Prayer

Reminder of Core Values

  • Do no harm
  • Do good
  • Stay in love with God

Updates

  • Team to do list
    1. Council report back
      1. Video editing funding reallocation – Funding was reallocated and SPRC identified an individual (Ian Jett). Josh is meeting with Ian to get him on-board after the HCT meeting.
      2. August 2 date – Council affirmed this date as our return to in-person worship
    2. List of people without electronic communications (Jo)
      1. Farmville Herald (Until further notice), WFLO – Jo Completed
      2. Announcement for mailer – Josh Completed
  • Telephone tree – Jo and Hedy
  • District/Conference updates
  • Congregational updates
    1. Susie’s arrival and transition

 New business

  • VBS Packing Party Logistics – Brandy Hogan attended the meeting to discuss the logistics of packing VBS supplies. The team decided that all volunteers should wear masks and gloves, remain 6 ft. apart, and pack complete sets of materials rather than by assembly line. The packing will happen on July 10 with deliver of items to occur 72 hours later. Further, if weather and circumstances permit, the packing will happen outside in the parking lot rather than inside the church.
  • Setting a timeline/due dates – The team began work on a timeline but will continue to refine this next meeting. Jo Smith is in charge of a sub-committee to clean out unnecessary items from the sanctuary per Conference guidelines.

 Closing in prayer

HCT Meeting – June 4, 2020, 4 pm (Via Zoom) – Link to recording

 Agenda:

Opening Prayer

Reminder of Core Values

  • Do no harm
  • Do good
  • Stay in love with God

Updates

  • Team to do list
    1. Video editing (Patti/Josh) – Patti reported that SPRC has approved the position and already begun looking to identify individuals who might fill it. Josh reported that a line in the budget for sound technician pay could be reallocated to cover the costs for this. The HCT concurred with this recommendation and Josh will request this from Church Council on Tuesday.
    2. Recorded message for worship – done, positive feedback (to Josh at least)
    3. Report back on conversation with Letterpress Communications (Josh) – Josh reported that the cost of this service would likely be more than we would be willing to invest at this time. We can consider this in the future but the on-boarding process initiated as a part of the transition to a new minister will likely help us to clarify our identity which will help with our marketing efforts.
    4. List of people without electronic communications (Jo) – Jo reported that she had identified as many as 35 people who are without electronic communication and who would need some sort of other reach out to get word about this process. The team decided to initiate outreaches in the following way (with the responsible team members assigned)
      1. Farmville Herald (Until further notice section), WFLO – Jo
      2. Announcement for mailer – Josh writing, Jo following up with Tracey to make happen
  • Telephone tree – Jo asked Hedy Thomas if she would assist in setting up a phone calling tree for those who do not have email. Hedy has agreed and Jo will report back at a future meeting about this progress.
  • District/Conference updates – The Conference announced that we will move into Stage 2 of the Conference plan on June 21. This allows all churches to operate as pioneer churches if they desire.
  • Congregational updates

New business

  • Central place for communications – Website sub-page? – Josh requested this as another way to get information to the congregation and community.
  • Request from Methodizers – goes to larger issue of wider church operations – The request from this group was to return to exercise next week now that Governor Northam has moved the Commonwealth to Phase 2. The HCT discussed and decided that all church operations would need to wait until we returned to in-person worship. The team set a tentative date for that (to be approved by Council at the next meeting) and felt that no small groups would be able to meet in the church prior to worship returning. Numerous issues were discussed including social distancing safety requirements, mask use, and outside options. See recording for more details.
  • Note: This discussion was shelved until Rev. Thomas begins – What is essential for our worship?
    1. Prelude
    2. Introit
    3. Call to Worship
    4. Opening Prayer
    5. Opening Hymn
    6. Children’s Moment
    7. Anthem
    8. Prayer for Illumination
    9. Scripture(s)
    10. Sermon
    11. Pastoral Prayer
    12. Hymn of Response
    13. Communion
    14. Offering/Offertory
    15. Lord’s Prayer
    16. Closing Hymn
    17. Benediction
    18. Choral Benediction

 

Closing in prayer

HCT Meeting – May 28, 2020, 4 pm (Via Zoom) – Link to recording

Agenda:

Opening Prayer

Reminder of Core Values

  • Do no harm
  • Do good
  • Stay in love with God

Updates

  • Team check-in
  • District/Conference updates
  • Congregational updates
  • Message to Council

New business

  • What milestones will we need to observe to feel comfortable returning to in-person worship?
  • Can/Should we facilitate one drive-in worship service in the new Conference year as an introduction to Susie?
  • How can we reframe the narrative? It isn’t “reopening” or “returning” in some ways it’s really starting all over again.
  • How do we continue to get the word out? We need someone specifically tasked with this role.
  • What technological support do we need for long-term online worship? If we move to a drive-in service, what resources would we need to make that happen?

 Closing in prayer

Healthy Church Team Meeting – May 22, 2020, 3 pm (Via Zoom) – Link to recording

For the opening meeting, Josh presented to the team an overview of the role the team will be playing in the coming months, the guidelines from the Conference, and the situation in the Commonwealth as it relates to COVID-19. The team decided that worship will not resume until the Fall – date TBD.