January 2021 Update
November Update and Video
Watch the message from our Michigan Bishop and local ReOpen Team.
Here we are on the eve of the Holiday season. Who among us could have imagined that 8 months after closing our churches that we would be facing pandemic numbers that are unprecedented in our county, state, and in our nation?
The weekend before Thanksgiving we recorded 11,000 new cases in Michigan. In that same week we recorded 1,000,000 new case in the U.S. in just seven days. Clinton County cases are at an all time high and at an unprecedented rate of infection. Schools, restaurants, high school sports, traditional Holiday parades and yes, family celebrations, are all on hold.
Bishop Bard has very strongly recommended that churches holding in person worship cancel them until after the new year. I can’t begin to describe to you how frustrating this is for those of us who are charged with planning for a safe reopening of our churches. I know it must be frustrating for you also.
But in this most Holy of seasons we also have hope. There are three very promising vaccines on the horizon. There is at least one very promising therapy treatment showing positive results. And even though we are apart, we can still care for and support one another. We can take personal responsibility
by wearing masks, staying home and praying.
Please join me in praying for each other, for skilled scientists and inspired leadership to make 2021 a year of new beginnings and renewal.
For the United ReOpen Team
Contact us if we can help: bit.ly/ConnectUnited.
October Update – UnitedTown Hall
ReOpening Discussion & Survey Results
Click links below for Agenda & Video
We had a great turnout for the Town Hall meeting. At least 25 people joined us. We got a few suggestions for things we had not considered before and there was a fair amount of enthusiasm for reopening as well as an abundance of caution.
Twice since summer the local numbers for COVID improved. Both times we took steps to visit other churches and determine our reopening procedures in detail. If you check COVIDACTNOW.org you can see Clinton county numbers became alarming again at the time of the Town Hall. In fact at the time of this update they are again a step significantly worse.
Because of the dramatic uptick in infections, it was the consensus of the team members attending to pause any reopening until the numbers improve while still proceeding with planning.
Below you can see the agenda, survey results, and watch the video. At the bottom of this page you’ll see all the ReOpen Team members.
Thank you for your continued support of our church! We’re open to your comments as we help the church through the reopening process.
Reopen Update – October
Click for Letter and Survey
Reopen Team Update July 26, 2020
Note: Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-160 and Executive Order 2020-161, amending Michigan’s Safe Start Order and issuing revised workplace safeguards. Under the Safe Start Order, starting July 31, 2020, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and bars will be closed for indoor service across the state, including in Regions 6 and 8.
Reopen Team Video Update
We are all anxious to get back to our face to face worship, but the Covid-19 Pandemic has not passed, and It is not safe to gather inside in groups yet. Sadly, it may be quite a while until we can resume worship in the church buildings.
Every other week we have been meeting on zoom. We look at national, state, and local case numbers, the state recommendations and the Conference and insurance guidelines. We are also planning what we will need when we can safely reopen. Last week Ingham, Eaton, Clinton Gratiot and Shiawassee counties were elevated again to a HIGH risk of infection.
We are working hard to use best practices to figure out when we can meet in face to face worship again safely. But this is a long-term process.
We know it is hard when some churches, even United Methodist Churches, are reopening their doors while ours are still closed. This has nothing to do with our church’s faith and everything to do with our love and care for our brothers and sisters.
Meeting Inside in groups even with masks is risky. And when we go back to meeting in person it may need to be in smaller groups, and it will not be the same. We will need to socially distance, wear masks, use hand sanitizer and there can be no hugs, handshakes or group singing.
We have discussed many options, but our “new normal” will be quite different than before. This is an opportunity that God has given us to adapt. Know that we are working to protect the health and safety of all God’s people.
When you find it necessary to go in the church building we have a new protocol to keep us safe. The need for this became apparent when a person who was in the church learned they had been exposed to Covid 19. We realized we had no way of alerting anyone who had been in the church during or after that person’s visit that they may be at risk. So that we have the ability to do tracing we’re requiring those who enter the building to sign a log that is at the front door. Please also wipe down all the surfaces you touch before you leave.
God is good all the time…All the time God is Good!
FROM THE REOPEN TEAM May, 2020
I don’t know about you but I miss my church family. I miss the warm greetings on Sunday mornings, I miss watching the kids running around before the service, I miss welcoming back those that have been ill. I miss celebrating the praises and mourning the losses together.
So, just when can we get back to normal? Good question.
To help answer that question, Pastor Matt has organized a team that has members from both churches to review the mountains of suggestions, mandates and best practices in order to assure that reopening the churches will provide the very safest, low-risk environment possible.
We held our first meeting (virtual) last week and started looking through the best practices which will be necessary in order to provide a safe return. A sampling of these are:
Removing bibles, hymnals, pens, connect cards, bulletins and prayer request cards
Refusing entry to anyone who refuses to wear a mask
Thorough cleaning of the church before and after each use
No coffee hour
Restricted occupancy if only small groups are allowed – who gets in?
And believe me, this only scratches the surface.
Keep in mind these guidelines are for a general congregation with a good mix of families from all age groups. We all realize that our two congregations are probably considerably older than average and therefore have a higher potential for more serious consequences of contracting the virus.
We quickly came to the conclusion that we may be a long way from being able to provide a safe environment for our congregations.
One thing we all agreed on is that we are only comfortable with a scenario that provides the absolute minimal amount of risk to our church family’s health and welfare.
In recent days Governor Whitmer has relaxed some restrictions. As of this writing, the Conference still has a prohibition against person to person worship or even meetings at our churches. We have no idea what these relaxations will mean but in many parts of the country we are seeing reckless behavior as a result of fewer rules.
Remember: face-to-face church gatherings of any kind are prohibited until further notice.
The Reopen Team will continue to meet and review all the latest information in order to publish a plan to keep you all safe.
If you have input for our Team please feel free to contact Matt or me at .
For the Reopen Team,
Jim Jackson, chair, Gunnisonville
Janel Ingram, co-chair, Bath
THE REOPEN TEAM WELCOMES YOUR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Jim Jackson, Chair, Gunnisonville Security Team
Janel Ingram, Co-Chair, Bath Security Team
Jerry Boyer, Bath Trustee
Tom Cooley, Bath, Infectious Disease Specialist
Nancy Drolett, Gunnisonville Administrative Board
Linda Gehrls, Bath Worship & Lay Leader
Dave Hundt, Gunnisonville Trustee
Kathy Hundt, Gunnisonville Worship
Patrick Johnson, Gunnisonville Building Cleaning
Matt Kreh, Pastor
John Suppnick, Bath Administrative Board
Jerry Taylor, Gunnisonville Lay Leader
Katie Walker, Secretary
Anne Winkel, Bath Building Cleaning