November 18, 2020
Brothers and Sisters in Christ at Santa Claus UMC:
When I talked to you last Sunday about our current efforts to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus here in Spencer County, this was based on the decision made by our Emergency Response Team (ERT) to limit in-person worship to no more than fifty (50) individuals.
Yesterday, we received an appeal from our Bishop, Julius Trimble (Indiana Conference), to temporarily return to online-only worship until Indiana is able to control the current spike in COVID-19.
In conversation with our medical professionals here at Santa Claus UMC and in Spencer county, here is what we know:
· The 7-day positivity rate in Spencer County is over 35% (11/4 – 11/10)
· This can be compared to the state average of 11.7%
· In September and October, Spencer Co. fluctuated from 9-20%
· We have had 4,521 people Tested in Spencer County with 706 Positive Cases (15.62%)
· 7 have died from COVID-19 in Spencer County (~1%)
· Research from I.U. Health Services has identified in-person religious gatherings as one of three major places this virus has been transmitted over the past several months
Our ERT talked again yesterday immediately following the Bishop’s appeal, and it was decided that Santa Claus UMC will temporarily return to an online-only worship format. We will continue to monitor conditions in our county and reassess this decision every two weeks.
Please know that these decisions are very difficult. We covet being in live worship with each of you. We will continue to try our best to represent Christ’s love and light in our community and our world. I pray we continue to remember the church is "we the people," and in a time when we may not worship in person together, we will still worship where we are.
We have three general rules in the United Methodist Church; they are really quite simple. Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay in Love with God. May we be the church in this time when we cannot be at church.
Worship will be live-streamed this Sunday at 9:00 am Central Time. We will only have one service where both Grounded and ROOTED will be represented. I will preach live each week, and we will have either a live ROOTED speaker or a prerecorded message from a ROOTED speaker. I look forward to meeting with you then.