March 27, 2021
Dear church family and friends,
One reason I love Bath United Methodist Church so much is because our church family cares so much for one another as well as the community around us. I believe this is inspired by our desire to follow the commandment of Jesus, to love God … and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40)
It has been a long year worshiping off campus but during this time I've heard absolutely no complaining, no criticizing, no second-guessing the leaders who have been making decisions. The re-launch team in conjunction with the Administrative Council met a few weeks ago and there was consensus that since most of our congregation have been fully vaccinated (one advantage of being an older church!!!) they felt it was now time to open up the church building again.
We decided together to take the process in steps. We drafted a procedure for any groups, our own as well as guest groups. Included are mandatory masks and social distancing, asking the standard covid-related questions, single-use bathrooms, following occupancy guidelines from the CDC, maximizing ventilation with open doors and exhaust fans, documenting building use for contact tracing, disinfecting surfaces, and for worship gatherings taking temperatures at the door.
Some, particularly those who have not yet been fully vaccinated, may not be ready to return to in-person worship and other gatherings at the church and that is perfectly fine. Worship will continue to be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook, although likely uploaded in the afternoon rather than live-streamed.
Our worship services are also being broadcast on local TV stations. Brunswick Channel 3 will air our service on Saturday at 7am, Sunday at 7am and Sunday at 5pm. Bath Channel 14 will air our service on Monday at 4pm.
We are also now able to make DVDs of the worship services. If you would like these delivered to you, just contact the church office.
But for those who do attend in-person, things won't feel quite the same and that's okay ... because things aren't the same. Our world has changed and we have each changed. So we are moving into the future together, trusting in the Lord our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Likewise, it's not that we are "opening the church again" because we never closed! In fact, the pandemic has doubled our worship attendance as we moved online, provided flexible meeting times through zoom, led to new mission in our community such as Drive-Thru Dinner Church and Warm Fuzzies, and brought us all closer together through our Care Groups formed last year.
I ask you to commit to attending in-person OR tuning in to our worship experiences with your loved ones, if possible. You can submit prayer requests by contacting the church during the week. And staying in touch with one another, and especially with those who are not yet ready to return to in-person worship.
Bible Study and Prayer
Our life together isn’t limited to our Sunday worship experiences and, to that end, we’ll offer online programming throughout the week so you can remain engaged with others in our church family. We’ll expand our opportunities every week (we’re learning as we go, after all), but here are a few programs that have moved online and all are welcome to join us. See Adult Ministries for more information.
Pastoral Care and Connection
Connecting with and caring for one another is one of our church’s highest priorities. Over these coming weeks, please reach out to each other via text, phone, email or social media.
We have established Care Groups for everyone in the church. There are ten Care Group Captains who are regularly contacting a group of parishioners in our church family to check on prayer requests, needs the church can help with and general updates. Please contact us if you would like to be added to a care group.
You can also reach out to me as pastor as well, and stay connected through facebook, webpage and youtube.
I also publish regular emails to the church with prayers and updates. You can sign up for these emails at the Contact link.
Drive-Thru Dinner Church
Although we aren't hosting our “sit down” Dinner Church until further notice, we are serving hot “to go” dinners for people who stop by or who request delivery. Drive up anytime Wednesdays between 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm - we offer a hot meal and a prayer to go! Delivery is also available upon request.
We are following all ServSafe guidelines as well as recommendations from the Maine CDC and other organizations. I hosted a webinar on Best Practices for Feeding Ministries last year that was quite helpful.
We also will try to provide specific food and personal care items to community members who have a loss of income during this time. If you or someone you know needs help accessing food or other items, please reach out to the church. If you or your neighbors, coworkers, or friends are able to provide funds to make sure our friends are healthy and cared for, please also let us know.
As you probably already know, our church is facing some challenging financial times. We ask that you prayerfully continue to support your church family with your weekly giving, and as God allows, to increase your giving. Any amount would be helpful, and can be sent by check to the church, donated online at the church website, or set up through your bank for auto-payment. BathUMC/give
How Long O Lord?
The pandemic is not yet over but we do see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. We ask you to continue to be vigilant in mask-wearing and social distancing and not grow weary of doing good.
Remember our exhortation from the letter to the church in Philippi: “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
These efforts we are making now are not made out of fear or anxiety. They are made with the full peace of God that guides our leadership and our community. Our core values remain the same: to follow the way of Jesus in ways that are creative, inclusive, sacrificial and authentic.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all in person and someday soon greeting you with a big hug —but until then, take care of yourselves, take care of one another, and take care of those who are on the margins.
Together in Ministry for Christ,