COVID-19 Response

Update on COVID-19 Response

March 19th, 2020

Grace and peace friends,

I hope you are doing well and experiencing peace during this time of disruption and upheaval. I wanted to update you all on the current situation with the coronavirus and our congregation. In line with the orders of the CDC, the MN Department of Health, and the recommendation from the Bishop and the MN Annual Conference, I am suspending worship at Gethsemane UMC until May 17th, 2020. This is my decision in light of their recommendation to suspend gatherings of 50+ people for 8 weeks. I hope and pray that we can have a momentous, glory-filled worship on Sunday, May 17th!

That being said, we are working on creative ways for us to stay connected and in relationship through this time of uncertainty. So please, stay tuned to our Facebook page and gum.church as we work on offering you new ways to worship from the comfort of your own home!

Another important point is to remain informed. There are so many stories and misinformation being spread to create fear in people, here are some resources that offer reliable information:

Friends, these are unprecedented times. I am doing my best to protect and support our community. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns; please reach out. I am here for you. I also ask that you be there for each other. Check in with your friends, ask them how they are feeling, give them the space to express their frustrations.

I’ve been asking three simple things in my conversations with people:

  • Share a high and a low (or ask, “Where have you seen God lately?”)
  • Share a prayer request
  • Tell me about your experience

Please continue to keep our country and our world in prayer as we live into trhe resurrection this Lenten season.

Shalom,
Pastor David Hodd


Update on COVID-19 Response

March 13th, 2020

Grace and peace friends,

On Friday, March 13th, Governor Tim Walz issued a peacetime state of emergency for Minnesota. The goal is to limit large gatherings over 250 people. It is also recommended to limit, “events with more than 10 people where the majority of participants are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” The majority of our church body falls under people who are a high risk for severe illness. So in the interest of everyone’s safety and helping contain the spread of the virus I have decided to suspend worship for two weeks.

So we will not have worship on March 15th and March 22nd.

I have been wrestling with the reality of the coronavirus this week as disruptions in our world come closer and closer to home. Finally, a friend told me to “accept it,” and so I have. The Management Team and I have been monitoring the situation, and will continue to make decisions in the interest of our community in regards to worshiping together. I strongly urge anyone who is at a higher risk for severe illness to stay home!

On that note, I also want to offer help. As this pandemic continues to get closer and closer to home, being quarantined is a reality we may all have to face soon. If you need help getting food, toiletries, etc., please reach out! Call the church, call Pastor David, email Francine, leave a message, send smoke signals, connect in any way you need! I am hoping to have a list of people who may need deliveries and am looking for volunteers to help make these deliveries if necessary. If you need assistance, or are willing to assist, please contact the church.

When I think about the coronavirus and our Lenten theme of incarnation, I think this moment is a time when Jesus’ call to love our neighbor as ourselves can be lived out. For some, loving your neighbor may be staying inside. For others, loving your neighbor may be helping deliver food to those who are more vulnerable to the illness.

There will also be several disruptions to our regular worship service/style for the foreseeable future. We are implementing the guidelines recommended by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health: 
– Keeping safe distances from people
– Covering coughs and sneezes
– Washing hands for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer when needed
– Encouraging people to remain home if they feel ill or have flu-like symptoms
– We will not offer communion or coffee/snacks after worship
– Passing of the Peace will not be practiced with shaking hands or hugs, but instead a wave or hand on the heart to convey the message of welcoming.
– We will not pass the offering plate through the worship service, but will instead have it set up so people can make an offering without touching the plates, or we encourage people to give online!

We are all entering a new space of ministry together! I leave you with words of a fellow pastor that helped me this week:

Dear Everybody,
Since I’ve not pastored people through a pandemic before, I don’t know all the answers. But I’m paying attention to science and praying for wisdom. Together, we’ll take courage, be patient, consider the least of these, and press onward while loving our neighbors.
– Your Pastor
P.S. Wash your hands!!!!

I hope we can continue to move forward together, please check our website or our Facebook for updated information, call your fellow members of Gethsemane to share the news, and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. Reach out. I am here as your pastor, we are all here as the church.

Shalom,
Pastor David Hodd
March 13th, 2020

Resources:
www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2020/covid031320.html
www.minnesotaumc.org/covid-19-preparedness
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html