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March 28: Update from Mark and Answers to Some Questions

posted on March 28


Dear clergy and laity of the Bluegrass District,

I continue to pray daily for you… for your health and for your ability to continue to be the body of Christ in the midst of these unusual times. Sunday morning worship, as important as it is for us, is not the only time, nor the only way, we are the body of Christ. It was good to be with most of our pastors through our three different opportunities to meet through Zoom video on Tuesday. I was blessed to hear the different ways our churches, all different sizes, are continuing to be the church, not just for one another but for your communities.

I continue to get questions from some folks around the following matters. So let me try and be as clear as possible.
 
  • Can we have worship if we follow the social distancing guidelines? There should no gatherings of any kind happening right now, worship or otherwise. I need to be made aware of any gatherings happening in or through our churches. I appreciate those offering online experiences and your following the guidelines in doing this. We are following and respecting the lead of our governor who has issued a be healthy at home order. The only exceptions include those who have to go to work, or going to the grocery, pharmacy, etc. We are encouraged to get outside, take walks, etc., but always following the social distancing guidelines. For example, my wife takes walks with a teacher colleague in our neighborhood, but they always maintain a safe distance. We are advised also to not have gatherings in our homes.
  • When will we be able to gather again? We do not know when we will be able to gather again. This is a day-to-day matter. Bishop Fairley’s latest counsel is that we should not have gatherings until further notice. We simply cannot predict a date at this time.
  • How shall we plan for Easter? You need to be planning alternatively for Easter and beyond.
  • Some have asked about parking lot services. Some churches have already done this and seems to be a viable alternative in some situations. To help us all in this, I anticipate that the cabinet will be offering on Monday some guidelines about how to do this.
  • Some have also asked about online Communion. I remind everyone that for us as United Methodists Holy Communion is a sacrament, not an ordinance. So it is significant and makes a difference how we offer and participate in Holy Communion. The cabinet is also working on a guideline for this. I anticipate this to be released on Monday as well.

In all of our deliberations about the different situations we are facing right now, one of the principles guiding us is to be careful about offering long-term solutions to short-term situations.

I ask your prayers for cities like New York and others who are being hit hard right now. And our prayers also are that our policies here over the last several weeks and continuing will indeed “flatten the curve.”

Continuing to be hopeful,
Mark