COVID-19 UPDATE

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OUR RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS

 

April 30, 2021

Beginning this Sunday, we are moving into the next phase of our social distancing/reopening plan. Several weeks ago, we opened up sections in the worship spaces so that folks could sit in closer proximity to each other. Beginning Sunday, if you choose to sit in these sections, masks will be optional. So again, only in these sections can you choose to take your mask off. The other sections of the room will remain masked at all times. We ask that you still come into the building with a mask on and then when you get to your seat in the designated areas, take your mask off if you feel comfortable. This phase will only include the worship services. We are evaluating each week to see how we proceed with our guidlelines in other ministries of the church. Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we continue to work through a reopening plan.

March 17, 2021

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

 

We have now passed one year of covid restrictions at the church. Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment in promoting safety and health at Mt. Horeb. We know there is no exact science to any of this and working in phases to re-open ministries has been a successful strategy.

The good news is, it appears covid numbers are trending downward. We also know that many more people have been vaccinated in South Carolina. The State is reporting today that 1 million people have had the first vaccination and 557K have had a second dose. If the current rate of vaccination continues, that number increases significantly. In a couple weeks, that number could be over 2 million. There have also been over 500,000 reported cases of covid, so many are carrying antibodies (they could still get sick without vaccination).

We also know the town of Lexington has lifted the mask ordinance and South Carolina never had a statewide mask mandate. Everyone is wanting to get back to normal as soon as possible. We are hearing from members who will not come back to church until we do not wear masks. We also have members who appreciate people continuing to wear masks. Whew!

Many people are starting to come back in person and our virtual attendance has declined significantly over the past two weeks. Last Sunday, we were within 10-20 people being completely (socially distanced) full at 10:45 Contemporary. We were past full at 10:45 Traditional by 10-20 people.

Our Administrative Council agrees it is time to enter a next phase, beginning March 21. Masks will still be required in this next phase, but for those who have been vaccinated or who feel safe, they will be invited to sit without social distancing on the right-side section of the Auditorium or Sanctuary. We would also create a wider aisle in the auditorium to create more space for those who will continue to socially distance. Roughly 2/3 of our capacity will continue to be seated with social distancing.

If we have an overwhelming number of people wanting to sit together, we will open another section of non-socially distanced seating but will maintain a socially distanced section as well. In a couple weeks, we should have a good idea of how our congregation feels about this next phase. As we assess the coming weeks, we will be looking to move toward lifting the mask requirement for people seated in the non-socially-distanced sections. The guidelines for this phase only pertain to Sunday mornings and Student programming. All other ministries will remain under the same protocol as they are now. We will look at other ministries once we see how this phase goes.

Our staff team will do a good job creating signage for directions of this next phase. We will assign staff to those areas to assist with any confusion. None of these phases have been easy or without struggle, but together, I believe we can make this work. See below for maps of the sections we are opening up.

We have talked to other large churches who are in similar states that have lifted mandatory mask requirements. They are implementing similar new phases with some beginning this weekend. All our steps to returning to normal have been done in gradual phases. We believe it is time for the next phase.

From the beginning, we have sought to be a church that has looked out for the needs of each other. Jesus declared He came to serve and not to be served. Your patience to serve others who are the most vulnerable and at risk has been sacrificial and honoring to God. Thank you! We have also been committed to living out “faith over fear.” As we take these next steps, please continue to pray that we will move forward in faith and with a servant’s heart.

Faith over fear,

Pastor Jeff

February 2, 2021

On January 31, our Kids Programming, for preschool ages, reopened at the 10:45 AM service time. Our Kids, K-5th, reopened in November. We currently have our middle school students meeting on Wednesday evening at 6:00 PM and high school students meeting on Sunday evenings at 6:30 PM. All of our social distancing protocols are in effect while our Kids and Students are meeting. As part of our Phase 3 opening, we also are allowing small groups and classes to meet back on campus with limited capacity. Other larger events are still on hold during this season. If you have questions about an event, contact communications@mthorebumc.com.

*For every Phase, we are not allowing food or refreshments in the building. All must wear masks.

August 23, 2020

Kids Programming is reopening November 8th for kids ages K-5th grade at 10:45 AM only. There are lots of important new details that go along with our reopening, please review the information below to know what is to come.

  • Registration: In order to social distance, we will be at a limited capacity. Registration will open each week on Monday and will close on Thursday at 12 PM. You can register your kid(s) at mthorebumc.com/kids. Keep in mind, registration will be needed for each week. At this time, there is no low-stim environment available.
  • Wellness Policy: Masks are required. A mask can be provided if your child does not have one. Temperatures will be checked for all children and parents prior to check-in. Temperatures must be below 100.4 to participate in-person. If you or someone in your family is not feeling well, please join us through our online resources.
  • Check-in: After clearing the temperature check, your preprinted security name tag can be picked up at the Preschool Check-in Desk.
  • Drop-off & Pick-up: After you have your child’s name tag, you will then drop of your child at the Zone glass doors. At the earliest, these doors will open at 10:30 AM. When service is over, one parent will enter the Zone glass doors to collect their kid(s) and will exit through the Zone playground.
  • At-Home Kits: If you’re not quite ready to come back yet, we will still have At-Home Material Kits available each month for registration and pick-up.

Thank you for your cooperation during this time and we can’t wait to see you!

August 7, 2020

As many of you know we have been in our Phase 1 of reopening for several weeks now. It’s been great to be back together again. We discussed early on that we would re-open ministries in a phased manner, considering several things that would guide our decisions. Our top priority is the safety and security of the staff and congregation. We also had to take into consideration the needs of each ministry as it fits in the life flow of the overall church. Along the way, we will continue to evaluate and reevaluate safety and effectiveness and will make necessary adjustments. It is your faithful service and joy that has fueled us during this time. It is God’s sovereign providence and protection that we work under. We have now decided to move to Phase 2 of re-opening to include Student Ministry, Men’s Prayer Gathering (no breakfast) and the 10:10 Bridge Afterschool program.

Should any challenges arise, unfolding in phases allows us to step back to the previous phase without wide scale impact and frustration. There will be further information and guidelines that will be delivered through each of these ministries. There is no timeline for the next phase. We are praying through the next set of ministries that we feel like should open in Phase 3. Our hope is to see how these ministries do and then move forward. If there is an outbreak of the virus in these three, then we back up and regroup.

*For every Phase, all groups of 10 or under, barring food, refreshments and children are free to meet outside at Mt. Horeb UMC or restaurants or parks. All must wear masks.

May 19, 2020

Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. I Peter 5:2-3 Message

Dear Mt. Horeb family,

Our staff, church and SC Annual Conference leadership have all been praying and working together with medical professionals and local officials in order to get ready for us to worship together in person. We want to share with you our current plan of action, knowing plans are subject to change. Join us in prayer over the coming weeks for the Lord’s guidance and protection.

Phase One:

Our Bishop has asked that all churches not have any in person gatherings until after June 10th. On June 14th, we will resume worship in the Sanctuary and Auditorium at our regular 9:00AM and 10:45AM service times. Things will look a bit different, of course. We will set up socially distant worship environments. Our cafe will not be open. There will not be any Sunday School classes, small group meetings, kids or student activities occurring during this phase. Hand sanitizing stations will be available at the entrances and we will have masks available if you need one. The worship areas, restrooms and high traffic areas will be sanitized between services for additional precautions. The church will be using newly purchased atomizers to purify these areas. The plan will be to keep the spaces at a 50% occupancy by spaced-out seating.

OTHER MEASURES WE WILL TAKE ARE AS FOLLOWS:

REGISTRATION PADS

We will not pass registration pads during the services, but first-time guests can still stop by the Guest Services desk for us to answer any questions you have and give you something special for being with us.

OFFERING

We will not pass offering plates/baskets during the service, but will have them available on the way out of the Sanctuary and Auditorium for you to give your offering. Now is a great time to take advantage of our online giving platform.

COMMUNION

We will not be serving Holy Communion until we believe it is safe, but when we observe the sacraments, we will provide prepacked, individually wrapped Communion elements that can be picked up from servers.

DOORS

To minimize your need to touch door handles, our Staff/Guest Services teams will hold exterior doors open to greet you.

GREETING

During our worship services when we welcome each other to church, let’s do so with a hearty “Good morning” or “Welcome,” but forgo the handshake for now.

During this phase, our staff will be returning to the offices. Staff will follow all social distancing guidelines. Please understand that while staff will be working in the offices, the campus will still be closed with no events, meetings or activities taking place during the week.

Phase Two: Reopening of additional ministries.

Our Student and Adult Ministry will begin to open during this phase. We anticipate this to be mid to end of July. These will be on a case by case basis. In order for these ministries to open, they must include appropriate social distancing and other virus-mitigating behaviors in line with federal and state authorities.

Phase Three: Additional ministries will be resumed.

Our prayer is to return to all of our normally scheduled ministries sooner rather than later. If and when that happens, we will modify our requirements as appropriate.

Phase Four: All ministries are open

While we place a high priority on gathering together as the church for worship and other activities, we fully understand that you may not feel comfortable coming back into the church buildings. If you need to stay home instead of coming to a worship gathering, you will still be able to watch our services live on our Facebook page or by visiting mthorebumc.com/live. We will keep you updated via email, social media and at mthorebumc.com as events unfold.

We will be sending out a short survey this week through Constant Contact. Please respond, as the information we gather will be vital in how we prepare for onsite worship resuming on June 14th.

Praying for the people of Mt. Horeb to be healthy and holy,

Pastor Jeff

Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 Living Bible (TLB)

April 23, 2020

Good afternoon Mt. Horeb families,

We are looking forward to the day that we will be able to be in the building worshipping with one another again. Included in this update will be a link to Bishop Holston’s statement that gives an update as to where we stand as a church as of today. We will continue to keep you updated and connected through our website and on our social media platforms. We want to be praying specifically for your needs. Let us know through email or click on the link above with your specific need or prayer request.

Bishop Holston’s statement

March 25, 2020

Good afternoon Mt. Horeb family,

While we are still not able to gather in a building as the church, we are increasing ways to create and keep connected as a community. In keeping with the CDC guidelines, we will not meet on our campus for worship or programming or any event until we are given the green light.

I know the uncertainty of this outbreak is creating anxiety in our workplaces and day-to-day activities. Yet we remain certain of God’s faithfulness. Please continue praying for those who are affected by this illness, as well as their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus. Pray for our schoolteachers who are doing an amazing job of keeping our kids engaged in online learning.

While you’ve been adjusting to your new normal at home, we’ve made a few adjustments as well.  Here are some ways we can stay connected during the week:

  • Worship with us online Sunday mornings at 9:00 and 10:45 through Facebook, Livetream.com or click here.
  • Student Worship on Sunday at 6:30PM on YouTube.
  • On Tuesdays at noon, join Pastor Trevor on Instagram Live for a time of encouragement and entertainment, @mthorebumc.
  • On Wednesday at 6:30PM, join Pastor Jeff for a word and prayer on Facebook Live or click here .
  • Women in prayer on Thursday mornings at 8:00AM, click here
  • Men’s prayer breakfast on Friday morning at 6:45AM, click here
  • Get our “Daily Word” each day on our social media accounts
  • Young Adults on Thursdays at 8:00PM on Instagram Live
  • Kids will be on Facebook daily with an encouraging word for our children.

I lift my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

In the strong name of Jesus be full of health and hope,

Reverend Jeff Kersey

Senior Pastor

March 16, 2020

In light of the recent announcement from our governor about the coronavirus (COVID-19), which requests limiting gatherings and encourages social distancing, we are making the following changes.

All church related meetings and events are cancelled until March 31. 

We will not be gathering for weekend services: Sunday, March 22 or Sunday, March 29.

We thank you for your grace and flexibility, as we comply with these measures to ensure the safety and health of the most vulnerable among us. We will be in contact with our most vulnerable adults to offer them any needed assistance and support. Pastors will be available to pray or talk with members who need pastoral care. As the church, please be in touch with your small group members, class members, neighbors and friends. This is a great opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community.

However, just because we can’t gather together doesn’t mean we still can’t have church! You’ll be able to access the live stream of our weekend services from home. Watch from your mobile device, computer, or smart TV, right where you are. We encourage you to join us online as we make it a priority to worship God together over these next two weeks. Last Sunday, we had over 2,000 people worship with us through Livestream.com, Facebook and our website. Continue to follow us on social media for online content delivered throughout the week.

As always, we want to support you through prayer and spiritual support. If you would like a pastor or staff member to reach out to you, please visit mthorebumc.com/care at any time. While our office hours will be limited, you can always reach us through email or the website. Our plans may change to reflect the advisement of our national, state and health officials during this on-going situation to better ensure public health and safety. We will keep you updated. In the meantime, let’s remember to be followers of Christ, abounding in God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control at all times.

March 11, 2020

Mt. Horeb family,

As you are well aware, we are in the midst of a new virus, COVID-19 or Coronavirus, that has created concern across our community and country. Experts tell us this virus is primarily spread through contact, so we want to take precautionary measures to create a safe and healthy environment for us all to gather and worship.  For many world-wide, this virus is a source of fear and anxiety. As followers of Jesus, we’re clear that God has given us a spirit of love and not fear (For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. –2 Timothy 1:7). We pray that you will continue to sense God’s peace in the midst of these circumstances. And while we won’t be operating from a position of fear, we intend to take the necessary precautions so that we can best serve our community in a way that demonstrates our trust in God.

As our staff monitors updates from the CDC, and partners with local officials and medical professionals, we wanted to share our preparedness measures with you, to explain what we’re already doing to limit the spread of germs. This is our current plan of action, as of today, 3/11/2020. As updates from our local officials and the CDC shift and new information is made known, our plans may have to shift as well.

REGISTRATION PADS
We will not pass the registration pads in the service but our first time guests can still stop by the Guest Services desk to answer any questions you have and give you something special for being with us.

OFFERING
We will not pass offering plates/baskets during the service but will have them available on the way out of the Sanctuary/Auditorium for you to give your offering . This would be a great time to take advantage of our online giving platform.

COMMUNION
When we observe the sacraments on April 5 th , we will provide prepacked, individually wrapped Communion elements that can be picked up from servers.

DOORS
To minimize your need to touch door handles, our Guest Services teams will hold exterior doors open to greet you.

GREETING
During our worship services when we welcome each other to church, let’s do so with a hearty “Good morning” or “Welcome” but forgo the handshake for now.

KIDS SPACES
We will continue to sanitize and sterilize all spaces and remain diligent in wiping down counters, door knobs, mats, phones, and toys as they are used.

We encourage you to take some time to understand proper prevention measures to avoid spreading the virus by reading through the CDC recommendations here .

While we place a high priority on gathering together as the church for worship and other activities, if you or your children are feeling sick or running a fever, the best way that you can love your neighbor is by staying home! As always, if you have any medical condition, please consult with your healthcare provider before attending church. If you need to stay home instead of coming to a worship gathering, you can go to our Facebook page or click here .We will keep you updated via email, social media and at at mthorebumc.com as events unfold.

Join me in praying for our world, our state & national leaders and our community, specifically for those who are directly impacted by this virus.

In the Peace and Power of Christ ,
Reverend Jeff Kersey
Senior Pastor