What’s Happening With Worship at Boone UMC?
Happy Saturday, friends. I hope that you have a chance to enjoy the spectacular show God is putting on for us this Fall with the leaves this year. I wanted to update you on what is happening with worship at Boone UMC over the next couple of months. This is based on a recent Health and Safety Team meeting, as well as Worship Committee meeting.
As everyone is aware, our Boone community has experienced an alarming uptick in COVID positive cases the past 3-4 weeks. After watching the community numbers and receiving a notice from the Health Department asking churches to help mitigate the community spread because they are starting to see some clusters in churches in our community, the Health and Safety Team decided now is not the time to start indoor in-person worship. We will continue to offer two livestream worship services (9:00 alternating Traditional and Praise and Worship and 11:00 Crossroads) each Sunday morning until those numbers decrease. Here are the metrics we will be looking for in order to reconsider opening up for indoor worship.
1. 7-day percent positive average <5% in Watauga County for at least 14 days
2. Daily new cases rate for Watauga County less than 25 per 100,000 (orange level) for at least 14 days.
Here is a website that you can visit to find both of these metrics and much more. Once we hit and stay at these benchmarks, we can consider opening up for limited number indoor worship. High Country COVID19 Stats
In the meantime, we are going to offer a Sunday morning outdoor worship opportunity, weather permitting. Worship Committee has worked hard to discern in-person worship opportunities, and following are details for our next fall season offering:
October 25 at 11:00 AM, we will offer an outdoor worship experience at the Portico entrance (where we have been doing all of our outdoor services on the left side of the property). We will still livestream the Sanctuary service at 9:00 am, and the Crossroads service at 11:00am. The Outdoor Service: Grace — Amazing, will feature simple unplugged music and prayer. Join others from your church family for this worshipful Sunday morning service. You can stay in your car or bring a chair or blanket and sit socially distanced in the grass. Masks are required until you are settled in your space, and then they can be removed. Singing is allowed because of the outdoor setting. We will offer these on Sunday mornings for as long as the weather allows us.
WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS CHRISTMAS?
In anticipation of Christmas Eve, which is one of the most beautiful nights of worship our church hosts all year long, we are making plans. Even if we were to reach the above mentioned benchmarks, we have decided to plan on not hosting an in-person Christmas Eve service. There are a couple of reasons for this decision. Our Christmas Eve services tend to draw large numbers of people, often from outside the High Country, during a time when family gatherings occur with greater frequency. In-person Christmas Eve services present many risks during a pandemic. We want to create worship opportunities that are both meaningful and safe throughout the year and during the holiday season. We believe we can offer something special for Christmas Eve and minimize everyone’s risk.
On Christmas Eve, we will provide a livestream recorded worship service that will be amazing! Then you and your family can choose when during your busy Christmas Eve festivities you want to sit down and worship together.
We will also provide a creative and unique experience on Christmas Eve for those who really want to have a moment in the church. I am calling it “I Wonder as I Wander” [but it might change names before December 24!]. Participants will be able to sign up for staggered entry times, and we will invite you to wander from the FLC to the Sanctuary to outside visiting “no touch” reflection stations along the way as you wonder about what that first Christmas Eve was like. You will be able to walk through the Sanctuary and hear Christmas music, receive “walk-in” Communion (administered safely), and a blessing from one of our pastors. We will lead you outside for caroling of Silent Night and Joy to the World (one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service!). Movement will flow continuously through the building with everyone masked in order to create a safe experience. More details are to come. Also, if you would like to help out on Christmas Eve as a host, greeter, or musician, please let me know. Maybe your plans have been disrupted and your family is not gathering like you usually do. We would love to have your help.
Finally, we are also dreaming up one other special, festive Advent worship experience that will involve outdoor caroling and some kind of outdoor display or nativity with music and bring-your-own-hot chocolate.
Please be in prayer for our community as we head into the cooler months. We are continuing to plan for opportunities for you to worship and connect. We have heard how badly many of you want to worship God with one another. We have also heard that some of you, as badly as you want to worship with others, will probably not be present physically until a vaccine is widely dispersed. We will continue, as a staff, to honor both of those needs and everything in- between, as best we can. We pray there are some things in this email that bring you hope and joy as we approach the holiday season.
While I have your attention – here are three more things coming up that you won’t want to miss.
October Drive Thru Blessing and Candy Give Away – Saturday, October 31, from 4-6 PM, our church is hosting a drive thru candy give away and blessing. Decorate your cars and decorate yourselves and drive through for candy and a candle. We will be giving out candles to use the next morning for our All Saints Service where we remember our loved ones who have passed away in the past year. If you want to dress up and give out candy, please let me know. The more the merrier and plenty of room to create multiple candy stations!
November 3- Election Day Prayer Gathering– On an important day in the life of our country that brings with it a lot of anticipation and stress, we will offer a 15 minute outdoor prayer service at noon at the Portico entrance on the left side of our property. We will also offer prayer for our honored veterans during this special gathering anticipating November 11 Veteran’s Day.
November Drive Thru Blessing – Finally, on Sunday, November 22, we will offer a Drive-Thru Blessing. This will be an important opportunity for you to come and be prayed for and for your family to receive an Advent Box with supplies to help you worship during Advent. If you need an Advent Wreathe so you can light candles during worship, we will provide you with one. We are putting together an Advent devotional booklet with devotions from our very own Boone UMC members. Our Children’s Ministry is providing special devotional activities for families with children or grandchildren. We want to share with you some supplies that we will invite you to use throughout Advent and Christmas Eve.
As you can see, there are some fun and important opportunities for you to participate and connect with one another coming up. The Church has never stopped being the Church, even if we have to do it in different ways. Please mark your calendars for these events. I hope to see your beautiful faces for at least one of these opportunities. Know that I hold our church family in my prayers daily.
Grace and Peace,