Policy for the Re-Opening of North Ridge and Ransomville UMCs

A Policy For the Re-Opening of North Ridge and Ransomville UMC’s

We must truly be thankful to the Lord our God for getting us to the point that we can again praise his Name in person together. As the people of the Risen Christ, let us rejoice in Him. Let us also continue to pray that he will bless our coming time together and hold all the forces of evil at bay, including the COVID-19 virus.

As the Governor of the State of New York has allowed that houses of worship can resume services at 25% capacity, we have now reached the point in which it is reasonable to begin having our worship together in person again. That being said, some changes in how we worship have to be made with consideration for maintaining a sense of community but balancing the needs to protect everyone from the Covid-19 virus. Upper New York Conference Guidelines as well as local, state, and federal guidelines were consulted in developing this policy for re-opening. We have tried to strike the best balance between the realistic and the ideal. I would ask everyone to review this policy before arriving to worship that there will be no surprises and no issues. We must all work together to make this happen safely and smoothly. This policy is a work-in-progress as it will be updated/revised as experience and new data show need.

First off, it should be emphasized that everyone will be welcome to worship with us.   Anyone who does not feel comfortable attending in person should continue to shelter in place and engage with online services. We will be continuing with online services for the foreseeable future and if you don’t have a computer, a transcript of the service will continue to be mailed to you as soon after the Sunday service as possible. It is recommended that people who are immunocompromised to continue to shelter in place and engage with online services. In addition, it is suggested that infants and children too young to wear a mask the entire time of worship be kept home as well.

Anyone who cannot wear a mask the entire time for any reason must also stay home.   This may seem harsh but, to quote Conference Guidelines, “The virus is spread through droplets that come into the air from breathing, sneezing, coughing, and singing. Religious ceremonies, as they take place in relatively enclosed spaces where many people are present for longer than 10 minutes, are at particular risk for spreading the virus to large groups of people.” The masks are important to reduce the volume of droplets entering the air. No one, including the pastor or worship leaders, is exempted from the use of masks. If for any reason, a worshiper does not have a mask, he or she will be provided one by the greeter at the door. Hand sanitizer will also be provided.

Before worship begins, the entire sanctuary, common areas, and bathrooms will be cleaned and sanitized. This includes the hymnals, pew Bibles, etc. All items not being used in worship will be removed ahead of time (pens, books, pamphlets, etc.) so as not to increase chance of virus transmission. In addition, in the hours before worship, all hymnals/Bibles will be sanitized as wells as the pews and any chairs in the sanctuary. Used hymnals and Bibles will be placed on the pews or seats so that they may be sanitized after worship as well. There will also need to be someone to make sure that elevator buttons/rails and stair rails are sanitized between uses. To maintain a constant airflow, the doors will be left open to create a draft, hopefully further reducing the concentration of the virus in the air.

As mentioned before, the greeter will now be responsible for ensuring that worshippers entering are wearing masks, hand sanitize and are aware of distancing and other requirements. They are also responsible for denying entry to anyone refusing to comply with the new policies. Remember: this is life and death and we must respect the rights of others to health and safety.

Upon entering, the worshipper will find the pews marked of with blue painters tape at six foot radius intervals. People living in the same house are exempted from the six foot radius requirement and may sit together and a six foot radius maintained from each family unit. There will be the necessary worship materials at each seat including a bulletin. We have decided to go with a bulletin produced using sanitary methods which prevents transmission of the virus from greeter to worshipper or worshipper to greeter.

A radius of six feet will be maintained at all times during worship. The passing of the peace will be from seats and no physical contact will take place. It was decided that hymns will be sung during our worship. While this is in contradiction with some guidelines, the logic behind the recommendation is flawed for three reasons: 1. We are using masks and the choir did not. 2. We are social distancing and the choir did not. 3. We are limiting the time exposure to approximately an hour, much less than the choir who practiced for two and a half hours. Here is the reference consulted in that decision. https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

Which brings up the issue of time. With the virus, time and our own bodies are our enemy. As mentioned in regard to hymn singing, it was too much time and not enough precautions that led to the spread of the COVID-19 to the above referenced choir. In order to cut back as much as possible the potential time of exposure, we will try to emphasize the need to hold off on fellowship before and after the worship service. The logic behind this is that we could be pushing dangerous exposure times if we add twenty minutes of fellowship onto our worship hours. Again, these are only temporary measures that hopefully will not be with us forever. We still have telephones, the internet, and the USPS to keep in contact.

At the end of the service, all worshippers will maintain six foot distancing while exiting. Hymnals and Bibles will be left on seats so that it is easier to sanitize after. Masks that are not reusable as well as the bulletins can be tossed into trash receptacles.

While this policy is not exhaustive, it is a good starting point to safely begin to worship in person. The key is to limit potential exposure by maintaining a six foot radius between worshippers and trying to keep the least amount of virus in the air as possible, hence the masks. We must not forget our most important weapon in this fight. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives us the power to defeat any an all evils we may face. Pray. Pray. Pray!

 

URGENT Covid-19 Announcement from Pastor Matt Worley

Good morning!

As you may have figured with all of the other prohibitions that have been mandated due to efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the United States, Bishop Mark J. Webb has recommended that we suspend all congregational activities until at least the end of March. Specifically, to quote Bishop Webb, “While I know it goes against the nature of many to cancel worship and other activities for any reason, I want to urge and encourage you to suspend in-person worship and other church gatherings for at least the remainder of March, if you have not already done so.”

As Bishop Webb mentioned, the idea of not worshipping together may go against what our hearts may be telling us but there is justification for such measures. This strain of virus seems to be far more dangerous to older adults. Because I have been called by God to serve North Ridge and Ransomville as their pastor, a good shepherd does what is most good for the flock. I cannot justify holding services when the potential to harm members of my flock exists, especially since both congregations are composed primarily of older people.

This will be a temporary (hopefully very temporary) until the people who track the epidemic are confident it is safe to return to normal practices. Until then, I am working on having an online worship experience via Facebook and YouTube. I am currently pondering how to reach those who have no internet access. If anyone has any idea how best to reach those who aren’t connected to the internet, I would appreciate it. I would also appreciate input from all of you regarding the online worship experience as well as prayer joys/concerns to share during our time online. To say this is a novel situation would be an understatement so we will have to work together to remain a church family in a time of “social distancing”.

I will leave you with a Biblical quote that Bishop Webb put in his official letter to the UNY Conference from Deuteronomy Chapter 31:6. In it, Moses is telling Israel that they will be crossing into the Promised Land without him. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Imagine losing the leader who had been your leader for decades. Indeed, many would have never known another one. Worse still, they are going to be facing some very strong enemies without Moses, who had always seen them through things. But Moses reminds everyone who the real leader is: God. God is not going anywhere. In fact, he tells them this twice as he repeats it in verse 8.

This is what we need to remember. God has not forgotten his children. We may not be worshipping in person together, but we can still spend sacred time together. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me via email, your respective church office phone, or my cell phone. See you Sunday; in Spirt and in truth if not actually in person!

Christ’s Peace,
Pastor Matt Worley

 

Announcements for March 15, 2020

  • EASTER FLOWER ORDERS: All orders due March 15 (today!). Please fill out order form and In Memory of sheet. For questions, please see Linda Lederhouse or Amy Olsen.
  • Bible Study on the Holy Spirit will be held immediately after church in the fellowship hall.
  • February 28-April 10- FISH FRY DINNERS 4-7 pm at the Pendleton Center United Methodist Church. For a full list of available dinners and prices, please see flyer in front foyer. 
  • Easter Sunrise Service: First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown has extended an invitation to attend the Easter Sunrise Service at Old Fort Niagara, on Easter Sunday, April 12, at 6:30 am outside the French Castle at Old Fort Niagara. For more information, please see flyer in front foyer.
  • Women’s Bible Study- Please join us every Tuesday here in the nursery, at 11:00 am. It is a wonderful time of study, discussion, prayer, and healing. Bring a friend!
  • January/February edition of the Church Newsletter is in the front foyer. PLEASE TAKE ONE. A digital copy is also available on the church website.
  • Have an announcement? Send announcements to Jan Johnpier at jjohnpier@gmail.com

Announcements for March 1, 2020

Upcoming events:

  • Happy Birthday to:

Bill McLaughlin TODAY!

  • EASTER FLOWER ORDERS: All orders due March 15. Please fill out order form and In Memory of sheet. For forms or questions, please see Linda Lederhouse.
  • Administration Board Meeting: March 10, at 7:00 pm. 
  • Bible Study on the Holy Spirit will be held immediately after church in the fellowship hall.
  • February 28-April 10- FISH FRY DINNERS 4-7 pm at the Pendleton Center United Methodist Church. For a full list of available dinners and prices, please see flyer in front foyer. 
  • Women’s Bible Study- Please join us every Tuesday here in the nursery, at 11:00 am. It is a wonderful time of study, discussion, prayer, and healing. Bring a friend!
  • January/February edition of the Church Newsletter is in the front foyer. PLEASE TAKE ONE. A digital copy is also available on the church website (On the Newsletter page)
  • Have an announcement? Send announcements to Jan Johnpier at jjohnpier@gmail.com

Announcements for February 16, 2020

-February 16th – TODAY- Bible study on the Holy Spirit using a study guide by Charles Stanley will be held immediately after church in the fellowship hall.

-January/February edition of the Church Newsletter is in the front foyer. PLEASE TAKE ONE. A digital copy is also available on the church website.

-February 19 (this Wednesday) the UMW will meet at Bev Jeffery’s house – arrival time 11:45 am. Please bring something to pass/share for a light luncheon.

-February 28-April 10- FISH FRY DINNERS 4-7 pm at the Pendleton Center United Methodist Church. For a full list of available dinners and prices, please see flyer in front foyer.

-Pastor Matt will be out of town to February 20.  (Matt and Jenny are in Bolivia) – Matt’s cell does work there – in the event of an emergency.

-Women’s Bible Study- Please join us every Tuesday here in the nursery, at 11:00 am. It is a wonderful time of study, discussion, prayer, and healing. Bring a friend!

Announcements for February 9, 2020

-February 9th TODAY – We will be starting a Bible study on the Holy Spirit using a study guide by Charles Stanley immediately after church in the fellowship hall.  We will plan to meet for about an hour. There are 10 lessons in the study.  We will plan to cover one to two lessons per week depending on how much discussion they generate.  It is the type of study that you can miss and complete on your own if you can’t be there every week.  Amy has some books and more can be ordered.  Please let Amy know if you would like to attend.

-Administrative Board Meeting will be Tuesday, February 11 here, at 7:00 pm.

-January/February edition of the Church Newsletter is in the front foyer. PLEASE TAKE ONE. A digital copy is also available on the church website.

-Pastor Matt will be going out of town from Wednesday morning February 12 to late Thursday February 20.  Matt and Jenny will be in Bolivia however, Matt’s cell will still work in the event of an emergency.

-Women’s Bible Study- Please join us every Tuesday here in the nursery, at 11:00 am. It is a wonderful time of study, discussion, prayer, and healing. Bring a friend!

-Have an announcement? Send announcements to Jan Johnpier

 

New Bible Study Starting February 9th

We will be starting a Bible study on the Holy Spirit using a study guide by Charles Stanley on February 9th immediately after church in the fellowship hall.  We will plan to meet for about an hour. There are 10 lessons in the study.  We will plan to cover one to two lessons per week depending on how much discussion they generate.  It is the type of study that you can miss and complete on your own if you can’t be there every week.  Amy has some books and more can be ordered.  Please let Amy know if you would like to attend.