Please see below on what is happening within our church in regards to COVID-19. We will update as things change.
Love God. Love People and Love Life.
Everyone is welcome to join us for any of our events!
Hello Church family of the La Porte First United Methodist Church.
Pastor Bob Vale here. I want to share with you more specific details about when the church may be able to open, as we continue to go through the Coronavirus pandemic together.
The Indiana governor has asked churches to be extremely cautious about opening up for Sunday morning worship
services. The governor has allowed Indiana churches to open up on the 10 th of May; using social distancing and sanitary hand washing measures. In fact, there is actually no limit to the number of people a church can have inside the building, as long as they keep social distancing and sanitary measures in place.
This may seem as if churches have a different standard from the rest of the businesses in our community. And it is. Public schools and colleges are still closed, restaurants can only serve up to 50% of capacity, Stores and malls can only have 50% capacity and the list goes on. Some non-essential business are still not able to be opened. We are still only at stage two of the five stages, with more coronavirus cases and unfortunate deaths.
Knowing how important the need to worship God in our local churches are to people, the Indiana governor has made churches the exception to meeting sooner. But with cautious guidelines. The Indiana Governor wants our churches to have the freedom to choose when to open and how to keep safe social distance and sanitary measures in place. At this time, I am a bit more cautious and so is Bishop Julius Tremble, our Indiana Bishop of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Tremble asked all United Methodist Churches to stop meeting back in March, when this all started. (March 15 th ) Bishop Tremble, is asking all United Methodist Churches across the state to NOT meet any sooner that the 14 th of June. This means that our first potential Sunday morning worship service will be on Father’s Day the 21 st of June.
I know there will be other churches in our community and across the state who will open up with in person worship services this Sunday. Our Bishop is working close with the I.U. Medical Health community in Indianapolis to make his decision. He knows this is not an easy decision. Bishop Tremble ask all
churches to continue to worship with online virtual services or outdoor worship services, as we did on Mother’s Day.
Knowing how contagious the corona virus is, and also knowing how the population over the age of 60 have more difficulty over coming this sickness, the United Methodist Churches in the State of Indiana will remain closed until the 14 th of June, 2020.
I miss you all dearly and I also know that all of you miss each other deeply as well. We look forward to the time when we will all be able to meet together again. Our beautiful sanctuary is able to easily hold over 250 people, using the balcony in the back. By having two worship services, we can easily have
around 100 people or less in each worship service, and maintain more than a 6 feet social distancing guideline.
We have special smiley face posters at the end of each pew and also skipping every other pew to keep people separated. There will be no ushers to pass out bulletins, because the bulletins will already be placed in the pews where each smiley face poster is taped on the pew. There will not be an offering plate passed from person to person. To receive the offering on Sunday morning, there will be offering plates placed at each entrance and exit. There are actually five different exit doors that go to the outside from the sanctuary, so we don’t all have to go out the same door as we exit the worship service.
There will be plenty of hand sanitizer as you enter the church and in the sanctuary to wash your hands. We ask that you please not shake hands or give each other hugs at this time. If we share in Holy Communion, there will be the individual plastic communion cups already placed at the seats, where the smiley
face is located. I do encourage you to wear a face mask if possible, although it is not mandatory. I will be wearing my face mask during most of the worship service; except when preaching.
When we get started meeting together in the large church sanctuary, more than likely there will not be a choir singing as we have had in the past. We may have a small praise team or ensemble choir depending on the leadership of the choir and praise team. Congregational singing will need to be sung in a softer voice than normal and with a face mask on as well. This will cause our air particles not going out as far as we sing our sacred songs. Until this is all over, I ask that you consider viewing our worship services as a more meditative, reflective and prayerful experience as you enter the sanctuary, since separation limitations are placed upon us all. Worship service may be more of a listening and reflecting than participating at first. I know this sounds very different than what we are used to, but until things open up and all of us are vaccinated, this more quiet and softer worship service may be our new normal for a while.
The worship services will be shorter to allow people to exit the building and time to place new bulletins or communion cups in the pews and to also wipe down the seating areas with disinfectant. We are also asking that families sit together with their children, because the nursery and Children’s Church will not be in operation.
As your pastor, I am also your shepherd. I care very much about both your spiritual and physical well being. Therefore, we will patiently wait for the 21 st of June to arrive so we can meet again for worship together in our beloved church.
Until then, I will still present to you, Sunday morning worship services on line through facebook and you tube. I will still present to you daily devotional videos by our staff each day. Our phone calling ministry team will still keep calling you each week to pray for you and stay connected as a church family. I will still mail out individual copies of my sermon each week to those who are not connected to the internet. As well as the monthly newsletter.
I also realize that when we do start meeting together on the 21 st of June, there will be those who are in the more vulnerable age and medical condition group, who do not yet feel comfortable coming to church for health safety reasons. I understand, appreciate and respect your caution, and ask that you please stay at home as we will try to livestream the worship services on Sunday mornings for your viewing. Knowing this, I will also continue to pre-record the worship services for quite a while into our future. We all realize that we will not totally be safe from this coronavirus, until there is a vaccine and all of America is inoculated. That does not seem to be projected until the first of the year in 2021, at the earliest.
I want to encourage us all to keep connecting to each other via personal phone calls, text, emails, facebook, and via other visits, keeping social distancing in place. Our church staff continues to serve you each day, whether working from home or working in the church office alone to continue serving you. During these difficult times, I want to especially thank you for mailing in your tithe check to the church, and also going on the church website to electronically give your tithe to the church ministry. Your donations to the church you love is greatly appreciated. Each week Nancy and I give our tithe offering on-line, which has become pretty easy to do each week on the church website.
I pray daily for you and for those across our nation who struggle with the coronavirus disease, or those who have died from this sickness. I ask God’s blessing upon all of us as we go through the coronavirus pandemic quarantine, isolation and measures to keep each other safe and healthy over the days, weeks, months and possible years ahead. Please keep a smile on your face, a joy in your heart and a love in your spirit towards one another!
I finish this letter and video with one of the most beautiful prayers of Christendom. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Thank you and may God bless us all until we meet again.
Pastor Bob Vale