Good morning, church family.
A brief apology for being a day late on the Weekly Update this week, but the Annual Conference has been posting a Covid response update of their own on the first week of each month, and I wanted to see their recommendations before I publish anything. That email arrived in my inbox this morning.
The Annual Conference recommendations are that our children’s program and youth programs NOT meet in person for the remainder of August. We do have permission from both the governor and the Annual Conference to have in-person worship. However, this relaxation of restrictions is based on the “flattening of the curve” we are witnessing on the state level. On the county level, though, curve really hasn’t flattened. In fact, new Covid cases in Madison County have quadrupled in the last month (since July 4 weekend.) We now have the dubious distinction of rating in the top ten counties in the state in in new Covid cases. We’re also getting ready to send our kids back to school in person, which I think presents a risk of an additional spike.
I hope I’m being a little paranoid, but based on these factors, I’m planning to postpone in-person worship until after Labor Day. If the Covid curve bends down between now and then, we can all laugh about how stupid I was, but I feel the risk/reward equation for us is just all wrong right now.
In the meantime, we’ll be doing all we can to provide meaningful worship and discipleship opportunities using online resources.
The other church news has to do with staff transitions. Jonathan is moving through his final week as our Youth Pastor. I don’t have to tell you how I’m going to miss having him on staff, but our new Youth Pastor is in town. Jamelle Jones was an active volunteer for our youth ministry while he was attending EKU up until about five years ago, when he moved to Brady Texas to take a position as Youth Pastor there. Here’s a video introduction from Jamelle:
In addition, Logan Zepp, our summer intern, is starting into the last week of his internship. Logan has preached for us a couple of times and led one of our Bible studies. He’s also been a tremendous asset around the church. He’s got a couple of words for you, today:
Hello everybody! Time has flown in these last few months, and it’s already my last week here at First UMC. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here, and I’ve learned a lot about ministry in a short amount of time. My only regret is that I didn’t get to know more of you all in person. I am praying that everyone is making it through the unique challenges of these times with faith, hope, and love. Thank you for having me as your Isaiah Project intern, and thank you for giving me this opportunity to discern my calling to ministry.