As of Wednesday, August 12th, we will be resuming online only worship. Here are a couple of options for you to still participate in worship.
- Online worship: Either via facebook live or the church online tab on the church website. This will continue, even as in-person worship resumes. Through Church Online we have reached more people than ever, even when our sanctuary doors were shut.
- Micro-Church: Gather with a small group of friends at a home to stream the service (thus providing community, but in a more controlled fashion). I’m really excited about this option, as I believe it fosters deeper community, while also allowing the safety of smaller and more intimate groups.
Thank you for being the Church in these uncertain times! Since its inception in the book of Acts, the Church has been about a movement of a community – not a building. During this season when we cannot meet in our building, I’ve been so grateful for the way that you have reached out to one another, and to the broader community, to offer comfort and love.
As of Wednesday, August 12th, in the late evening, the decision to return to online-only worship effective immediately, was approved. Here is a brief message from our Senior Pastor, Rev. Bill Gepford.
Dear Church Family,
I hope this message finds you healthy – physically, and spiritually. I apologize for sending two emails in one day; however, the Risk Dial for Three Rivers Public Health Department updated late this afternoon, after the enote had already gone out. The dial has reached 2.0 – the previously established threshold that our Church Council had determined was the mark at which we would return to online-only worship. Therefore, we will not be able to worship in the church building this weekend. We will remain online-only until the risk dial drops back under 2.0, or ‘High Risk’.
I wish we could be together in person – not just those who are comfortable coming on Sunday during Covid-19, but all of us. And I know we will have that opportunity again some day; this too shall pass. Until that day comes, our Fremont First United Methodist Church leadership built a plan designed to keep you safe – a plan based on prayer, scripture, our United Methodist Theology, and consultation with denominational and civic authorities. Returning to online only is the best way we can accomplish our mission in the current situation.
I’m sure this decision might weigh heavy on some. I understand that, and I sympathize. You are in my prayers, and I hope that you will pray for me as well.
Friends, we knew this was a possibility in a pandemic. We are prepared for this, our plans are comprehensive, and we have the right leaders to make it happen. We will return to online-only, so that we may be wise as we Seek Jesus, Make Disciples, and Love Always. Worship changes this weekend, but God does not. We’ve got this, church! I’ll see you online at 9:00 and 11:00.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Bill
I know that there are different opinions as to how we ought to approach this virus. I respect each person’s autonomy. Here’s the theological underpinnings for why we chose to move forward this way:
Hebrews 10:25 – ‘Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.’ – We believe that powerful things happen when God moves in our midst. Scripture teaches us that meeting together is important (though I believe the witness of scripture makes it clear that we can be connected with one another in spirit, even if we are physically separated).
Romans 15 – ‘Those who are strong ought to bear with those who are weak’ – as Christians, we have an obligation, stated over and over again in scripture to care deeply for the most vulnerable amongst us. Even if we might feel comfortable taking certain risks, we are taught to show care for those who cannot risk as much as we might.
John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules:
- Do no Harm
- Do all the good you can
- Stay in love with God
How can you help?
- Pray for the Church, leadership, and community – especially the most vulnerable.
- Continue to wear a mask when out in public. Not only will you lower your chances of transmission to others, you just might make other people more comfortable with wearing one as well. The more we can lower the infection rate of our community, the more fully we can open up as a church…and we can save lives.
- Carefully consider which church venue you will join – will you stay with online-only? Do you feel called to gather a few friends for a micro-church (we can train you if so!)? Do you crave being back in the sanctuary for Sunday morning worship? Seek out wise advice, talk to your doctor, and prayerfully make the decision.
- Pray for those who don’t have a church and need a message of hope and comfort in their lives. I can’t remember a time in my life that was as scary or divisive. Invite at least one person to join you online or in a microchurch – the world could use more hope and love right now.
- Pray for me. I’ve never pastored in a global pandemic before.
- Watch your enote. We will resume, if the weekly positivity data stays in the single digits for our area. I’ll be monitoring those weekly, and will communicate the Sunday prior, as well as through the enote. If things spike, we will have to delay until we can resume safely. If they spike at some point in the future, we may have to return to online only for a period of time. We will continue to do our best to offer worship to the widest number of people in the face of a global pandemic, while displaying all wisdom in the process.
Friends, we are resuming in person worship. We are not reopening. We can’t reopen – we’ve never closed. In the past few weeks, our church has delivered more meals and made more care calls than this time last year; we’ve connected with more first time visitors and shared more discipleship opportunities than we would have otherwise. I’m proud of what we have accomplished. I’m grateful for our leaders who made it happen. I’m thankful for the prayers that sustained us, and for your love, generosity, and care in the middle of unique challenges. As we evolve into the next stage, I pray that we will continue to reach out in new and innovative ways, doing what is necessary to bring hope to a hurting world.