COVID-19 Phase II Update

Posted on May 31, 2020.

Here is the transcript of Lay Leader Mark Kandel’s message regarding Phase II of Mt Tabor’s COVID-19 response that he presented during this morning’s virtual worship service.

“Good Morning Members and Friends of MTUMC!! The Church Board has been meeting weekly as we try to sort through all of the changes and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic to our congregation. As you have seen or heard, we are now fully capable of bringing you our worship as a streaming experience on line thanks in large part to Logan McGee. We are planning more enhancements there as well, and it will continue to be a permanent part of our weekly worship experience.

The UMC, EOC and the Bishop have published a lengthy set of guidelines for churches to follow to help with re-opening our buildings, our fellowship offerings, and our worship experiences. These recommendations are broken down into 4 phases. Phase 1 was quarantine and lockdown with only essential personnel allowed in the building, no in-building worship, small groups or gatherings of any kind permitted. We are now moving to Phase 2. 

Here is what that means:

Small groups of 10 or less adults will be permitted to gather in specific areas of the building provided the following rules are observed:

1. All meetings must be coordinated through Sandy in the church office. This is to ensure that no overlapping gatherings occur, and so that we know when there will be people here in case contact tracing is necessary.

2. 10 participants is the maximum number permitted.

3. Social distancing must be observed, including the mandatory wearing of masks. Tables and chairs in the fellowship hall will be set up to facilitate this kind of gathering and must be returned to this form when your meeting is completed.

4. Some areas of the church will be sanitized and cordoned off with yellow tape. No one is permitted to break through these “sealed” areas for any reason during Phase 2.

5. If you meet, all attendees are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces touched during the meeting. Sanitizing wipes and stations will be provided for this purpose. This includes, tables, chairs, counters, appliances, door handles, sinks, toilets, walls, light switches and any other touched surface.

Permitted groups during Phase 2 would include any Bible Study or Sunday School related group, Quilters, UMW, UMM, or other ad hoc / seasonal group of adults. No youth gatherings of any kind will be permitted during Phase 2, nor will outside groups who have used our building like TOPS or the Boy Scouts be permitted at this time.

Other than the church staff, board, and anyone cleared through the church office as outlined above, no one is to be in the building for any reason. It remains closed. We realize that this may cause some confusion or heartburn for some of you, and we understand it. However, this policy remains in effect for the protection of everyone. We have a responsibility to protect anyone entering our premises. The fact that the virus can live for up to 36 hours after being spread from an infected person into an environment mandates that we take precautionary and protective measures for the good of all those who venture inside our building. We MUST have a chain of custody for those entering in the event that contact tracing would be necessary. Please help us achieve this goal by policing both your attitudes and actions. Do not show up unannounced and expect entry.

The Church Council has been meeting weekly since March. Here are some of the issues that the we have had to wrestle with as we move through the uncharted territory of a Covid-19 world:

• Finances

• Re- opening time tables and guidelines

• PPE and sanitizing equipment have been investigated and ordered

• Custodian and all the new duties – retirement of old, search for new

• SD set up of the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall for later phases

• Worship forms and needed connectivity, hardware, software, and skills

• Keeping connections for our congregations and our pastors

• The welcoming of a new pastor – integration of her ministry, preparations at the parsonage

• Deep cleaning and sanitization of the sanctuary is being considered

• An altered church calendar – with all plans and programs on indefinite hold

These are just the broad categories, each with its own attendant detail. It has been challenging, but God is good and we are optimistic that regardless of what happens with vaccines, herd immunity, or other unforeseen virus outcomes, we are prepared to continue being the United Methodist Church here in East Canton.

The Church Council met for the first time in person this past Tuesday. It was great to see everyone, even though we were all masked up! We realized that we all have been missing our church family and are anxious to resume in person contact. So, MTUMC you have a new challenge before you. Now is the time to consider starting your own small groups in order to get together. These can be for any reason or common interest. They can be on-going or one- time gatherings. Are you missing someone specifically? Consider setting up a small group meeting and inviting that person and 8 others to attend! Leadership is needed for this! Everyone has a duty to do what we can to stay connected as a church family. Watching the service on Sunday morning in your jammies is cool for a while, but it cannot take the place of live, in person contact. You can and should do this! Sandy will help you invite and schedule your meeting. The use of the Fellowship Hall may sound complex, but it really is not. It is common sense. C’mon MTUMC, let’s get together again, slowly, and carefully.

Thank you for listening and for your patience and cooperation. You can post any questions you have on the FB live event screen, or by contacting the church office.”