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Update on returning to in-person activities at WI UMC:
Life has been different for each person and each household. Life at your church has also looked different. I am grateful to our talented folk who enabled us to post worship online.  Playing, recording music, sermons, children sermons, and announcements has been a huge undertaking.  For the record, speaking to a camera is not fulfilling to me.  I need to see faces to truly engage each other.  I hope you have enjoyed these “almost being there” worship times.
Thank you also for continuing your financial gifts.  Your support is vital in these days. Andy Fulp, chair of Staff Parish Relations Committee, is also creating an email/letter to explain our upcoming staff restructuring.  Bishop Bryan and the South Georgia Conference staff have posted guidelines and hosted Zoom sessions to aid in our eventual return to in-person worship:


*Phase One:  
Church life was changed in March due to COVID-19.  We are currently still in Phase One – social distancing has been strict, those in the vulnerable adult population (65+ in age and those with existing health conditions) and individuals are asked to remain sheltered in their home, office staff have done most of their work from home, worship services have been online only, no small group
meetings, no committee meetings, no ministry events, no mission trips/events. No groups have met in these days.  


**Phase Two:
We hope to move to Phase Two in the coming days – social distancing is still a priority, vulnerable adults are still asked to remain sheltered at home, worship is limited to 50-100 in attendance, all staff will return to office hours beginning May 11, worship online will continue, and small groups are still online only (Zoom).   To achieve Phase Two, we will begin a

“Rolling Restart” for Wilmington Island UMC:

We each assume a risk just getting out of bed in the mornings.  Returning to participate in life at church you will also be assuming risk.  Face masks are encouraged, so bring yours to any church activity.  No hugging or hand shaking allowed.  Gloves are encouraged when opening doors or in turning on light switches. Hand sanitizer will be available (please assist us in finding more bottles of hand sanitizer for the church.  We are about out.).


Prayer is a key factor in moving to Phase Two.  It matters not where you choose to pray.  It matters not the flowery language you may choose.  It does matter that we come to God with a humble heart, seeking to follow as we are led.  The sanctuary will be open for prayer every day during the week from 9 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. beginning May 11.  Come and enjoy the solitude.  Space yourself away from others present.  Kneel at the altar or sit in your favorite pew. Share your heart with God.  Open your heart to hear God’s word.  Daily cleaning of the sanctuary will take place.  

May Meetings:  Phase Two will allow in-person meetings. We will have limitations on upcoming meetings.  Masks and gloves are needed.  Trustees are to meet Monday, May 11, 7:00 p.m.  They will meet in the Fellowship Hall with seating arrange for social distancing.  Finance team will meet Monday, May 18, 7:00 p.m.  They will also meet in the Fellowship Hall to have seating spaced out.
 Church Council will meet Tuesday, May 26, 7:00 p.m. They will meet in the Sanctuary for seating with social distancing in mind.  



With the Bishop’s guidelines stated, we will continue our online worship May 10, 17 and 24th .  Music will be recorded as well as children’s sermon and the sermon.  Again, we are grateful to Morgan and Nick for their talent in producing these worship times.  


***Phase Three:

Social Distancing will be modest, vulnerable adults be cautious in distancing themselves, no size limit to gatherings, office staff to have normal operation, and please bring you masks and gloves.
Worship: Phase Three will allow us to ease into in-person worship. On Sunday May 31, our first time back together will be an outside gathering, 10:00 a.m.  Bring your own lawn chairs.  Bring your own gloves and face masks since the church does not have a supply handy.  Spacing of the seats will need to be done to insure social distancing.  Again, those with health issues please remain home.  Also, our nursery will not be provided due to safe distancing being unable to maintain.  We will record the worship to be posted later that day for those unable to attend. Sunday June 7 and 14 will also be outside, weather permitting. All are invited but those with pre-existing health conditions are asked to view the worship online.  Music will be our priority.                          

On June 21 we will sponsor two worship services, 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Our praise band will assist with music at 11 a.m. to be a blended service. 9:45 a.m. worship in the fellowship hall is discontinued until further notice. We will determine if there are any restrictions or expectations as this date draws near.  As the “rolling restart” continues we will be learning as we go at times. Please bear with us as we receive guidance from our Bishop and Conference staff. Nursery care will return on this date. 
On a personal note, this will be my final Sunday as your pastor. We have been blessed to be your pastoral leaders for the past three years.  I know God will continue to lead you all as Rev. Doug and Lynn Walker come to lead you.  They are to arrive June 24 (305 Gloucester Rd). Please extend a warm welcome to them.  Doug’s first Sunday of preaching will be June 28.  


****Phase Four
We will see what a “new normal” looks like.  As we add more small groups and events help us by participating fully. 


Sunday School and Circles:  Please consider restarting in July.  Our focus for Phase Three gatherings is the restart of in-person worship.  Let us determine how this “rolling restart” is doing before gathering in your small groups.  

Thank you all for persevering in this pandemic.  Continue to pray for all who are ill or who have loved ones who are struggling health wise.  Pray for those experiencing economic hardships due to businesses being reduced.  Keep calling each other.  Reach out to those you miss seeing.  Be safe as
you participate in daily life outside of your shelter-in-place location.  God is with us.  You are the church.  Church can be anywhere and everywhere.  Please call the church office (897-2835) for any questions or to seek more information.  
Because of Christ,
Rob Grotheer

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